Frank Randle was born in Standish in Wigan
in 1901. He was a childhood friend of George
Formby, (also a Wigan man), who later became his main rival.
Randle was probably one of the best music-hall comedians of
his day. Curiously, he always appeared on stage without teeth.
His career began in 1916, when he appeared as an acrobatic with
the stage name of Arthur Twist. His stage acts were distinguished
by his wild, extravagant, cheeky dialogues, frequently filled
with risqu� topics and bad language. Of course, none of this
was permitted in his movies, where he appeared as an honest
comic cheeky chappie. However, it was to be much later, in the
1930s, before he would achieve notoriety as a comedian and popular
entertainer with his own touring company known as “Randle’s
Scandals” . He was also a popular movie actor/comedian
and starred as top of the bill regularly in summer season shows
at Blackpool. During the early fifties his health declined and
he died in Blackpool in 1957.
(1915-1982) Arthur Lowe was born in Hayfield, Derbyshire on 22 September
1915. He originally intended to join the Merchant Navy but his
application was rejected because of poor eyesight. It was reported
in his son’s memoirs that he worked for a time as a stagehand
at the Manchester Palace of Varieties, though other authorities
claim this to be without foundation. However, poor eyesight
apart, he joined the army at the outbreak of the Second World
War and served in the Middle East. It was here that he began
to take part in shows for the troops.
After the war, he became known for his character roles, making
his debut at Manchester Repertory Theatre in 1946. He appeared
on stage in many roles as well as in more than fifty films.
By the 1960’s had begun to appear on television. Early roles
included Leonard Swindley in “Coronation
Street” . In 1968 he appeared in perhaps his best
known role as the pompous and snobbishly incompetent Captain
Mainwaring in the BBC’s “Dad’s Army” .
followed, including “No Sex Please We’re British” and
“O Lucky Man” . In 1977 he went on to such programmes as
“Bless Me Father” and “Potter” . He
also carried on working on the stage and films. He enjoyed sailing
and lead a very active life until he died of a stroke in his
dressing room in 1982 aged 66.
1924) Born Dora Broadbent on 7th February 1924 in Southport, Lancashire,
(now Merseyside) Dora Bryan became a much loved, veteran character
player, often in eccentric or lower-class roles. Her early stage
appearances, many at the Oldham
Coliseum, include “Stage Door, “No Room at the Inn”,
“Peace in Our Time”, “Accolade”, “The Lyric Revue”, as Lorelei
Lee in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” and as the leading
role in “Hello, Dolly!”.
movies followed and she became a well known character and comic
actress in British films, including the film of Shelagh
Delaney‘s book “A Taste of Honey” (1961), “The
Great St Trinian’s Train Robbery” (1966), and “Apartment
Zero” (1989). She
won a British Academy Award for her performance in the film
“A Taste of Honey” and for her part in “She Stoops to
Conquer” she won the Variety Club of Great Britain Best
Actress of the Year Award. Many
successful roles have followed, including “Pygmalion”
with Peter O’Toole. She also won the Olivier Award for her performance
in the National Theatre’s production of Harold Pinter’s “The
Birthday Party” . She has been awarded an OBE and a Master
of Arts degree from Manchester
recently she has appeared frequently in the BBC classic comedy
series “Last of the Summer Wine” and in cameo appearances
in “Absolutely Fabulous” , as well as continuing
live theatre performances, pantomimes and plays. In September
2006, she was due to tour in the comedy “There’s No
Place Like a Home” but had to withdraw because of her
husband’s continued ill health.
Terry Christian is probably best known (in the UK at least)
as the presenter of Channel 4 Television’s “The Word” .
This controversial late night live show ran from 1990 – 1995
and attracted a young cult following. Terry
was born and grew up in Old Trafford just south of Manchester
It was in 1981,shortly after the Moss Side riots, that Granada
TV decided to make a discussion programme entitled “Devil’s
Advocate” involving 100 unemployed young people from
inner city Manchester. He had already come to the attention
of television companies, who had been impressed with the outspoken
candour of his personal style, and they offered him the job
of presenter. He had already been the BBC’s youngest presenter
on Radio with the “Barbed Wireless” show and
had won the Sony Award for it twice, in 1985 and 1986. Meantime
he had also written a weekly column for the Derby Evening
Telegraph and managed a couple of local bands.
he worked as a disk jockey and presenter on Key 103 Radio and
Piccadilly Radio, where he was at the forefront of what came
to be known as the “Madchester” scene. Terry was also
writing in the Manchester
Evening News on new music. He moved to Sunset 102
and also presented a weekday evening show on KFM , Britain’s
first official independent music station. Other
broadcasting roles have included “The Big City”
for Carlton Television, “The Football Show ”
for Tyne Tees and Yorkshire Television, documentaries for Granada
TV and BBC North, “The Hothouse” and “G
Spot” for Granada’s “Men & Motors”
and S ky One Television’s “Backchat” ,
as well as presenting radio shows for Key 103, Red Rose, Signal,
Metro and TFM. He is a regular contributor to the BBC’s “Heaven
and Earth” . He
has published two books to date, “Brothers – from Childhood
to Oasis” (an account of the lives of Liam
and Noel Gallagher of Oasis) and “Reds In The Hood” ,
a semi-autobiographical account of growing up in Old Trafford,
where Terry has had a lifelong following of Manchester
United Football Club (hence “the Reds”) and he
frequently appears on the Manchester United channel MUTV and
has his own “Terry Christian’s Sunday Worship”
and regularly hosts the “Live From The Red Cafe Show”.
1971) Johnny Vegas was born Michael Pennington, the son of a carpenter
from Thatto Heath, St Helens in Lancashire on the 11th September
1971. From a position of relative obscurity, Johnny Vegas came
to public attention at the Fringe Edinburgh Festival in 1997,
and he has subsequently become a major force in the contemporary
comedy world. At Edinburgh he was given a Perrier Award nomination
and won a contract with Channel 4 TV.
His family were devout Roman Catholics, and initially Vegas
had decided to train for the priesthood at Upholland School
in Skelmersdale. But the harsh r�gime soon got the better of
him and within 18 months he dropped out and went back to West
Park School, St. Helens. Here he was to discover a lifelong
passion for pottery, and went on to study Ceramics at Middlesex
Polytechnic, though he graduated with disappointing grades and
did not follow it as a career.
Various mundane jobs followed, including waiting in a local
pub for six months, and spending some time on unemployment benefit.
In 1995 he entered the Channel 4 ” So You Think You’re Funny ”
Contest and was markedly unsuccessful, though he was now convinced
that he wanted to be an entertainer, and went on to work in
northern clubs for two years, including the Citadel Arts Theatre
in St. Helens, before making a public debut Edinburgh. His
career has blossomed in live and television performance, and
he has appeared on shows such as “The Comedy Store” ,
Reeve’s & Mortimer’s “Shooting Stars” and recently as
a guest on Paul Merton’s “Room 101” and a regular panellist
on the “8 Out of 10 Cats” quiz show. More recently
he has appeared in “Bleak House” (2005), as
Bottom in “ShakespeaRe-told” (2005), “Benidorm”
(20072009), “Massive” (2008) as well
as “Dave’s One Night Stand” in 2010 and “Celebrity
Juice” in 2011.
1942) Ian McShane was born 29th September 1942 in Blackburn, Lancashire,
though his family moved to live in Stretford (now in Trafford)
in his early childhood. His father, Harry McShane, had been
a professional football (soccer) player for Manchester
United. When it became clear that Ian would never be as
good a footballer as his father, he turned his attention to
acting. After school he studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic
Arts, alongside other “unknown” would-be actors like (Sir) Anthony
Hopkins and John Hurt. By the time he graduated from RADA in
1962, he had secured his first film role in “The Wild and
the Willing” . His stage debut also came in that year, as
Charley in “Infanticide in the House of Fred Ginger” .
Other roles quickly followed, including “How Are You, Johnnie?”,
“The Easter Man”, “Loot”, and “The Promise” which
took him to Broadway, where he appeared in “The Glass Menagerie” .
His first starring film role, playing opposite Hayley Mills,
came in 1966 in “The Gypsy Girl” . Later followed the
great World War II epic, “The Battle of Britain” .
In the 1970s and 1980s he played the title role in the BBC production
of “Disraeli – Portrait of a Romantic” , as Heathcliff
in “Wuthering Heights” (also for the BBC) and as Judas
in Franco Zeffirelli’s “Jesus of Nazareth” . Other television
performances, on both sides of the Atlantic, included: “War
and Remembrance”, “Roots”, “Bare Essence”, “Perry Mason”, “Columbo”,
“Miami Vice”, “Magnum PI”, and “Dallas” .
In 1986 he was offered the leading role in “Lovejoy” ,
probably his most notable recent success, which became one of
the most popular television series in Britain and by American
fans when it was on a USA cable network. In November 1999 he
appeared in the American TV movie “Babylon 5: River of Souls” .
He has been married to American actress, Gwen Humble since 1981.
has two children, Kate (born in 1971) and Morgan (born in 1975),
from a former marriage to Ruth Post. For several years he commuted
between properties in Los Angeles and England, but now lives
in London, beside the River Thames. In
September 2004 he made his first appearance in the western series,
“Deadwood” on Sky Television.
In 2010 he played a major role in the television adaptation
of Ken Follett’s best-selling epic historical novel “The
Pillars of Earth” for Channel 4.
Born David Allan Kelly on 9 May 1950, Matthew Kelly’s first
job after leaving school was as a bingo caller. Soon after he
worked as an actor for many years in a large range of roles,
from traditional variety shows to Shakespearean plays. After
being seen in an ITV situation comedy, he was asked to appear
in one of the “boxes” on “Punchlines “, a television
panel game show, which led on to getting the job for “Game
for a Laugh” along with Henry Kelly (LWT for ITV, 1981-5),
followed by “The Sensible Show” (ITV early
1980s). He soon acquired a reputation as the take-over king
of television, replacing Bruce Forsyth and Leslie Crowther as
the host of “You Bet!” (LWT, 1988-96), “Hotel
Getaway” (ITV 2000), and “Stars in their Eyes” .
Other TV shows have included “You Bet”, “Holding
the Fort” and “Relative Strangers”.
He is currently also appearing in the BBC1 soap opera “Hollyoaks” .
Recent theatrical roles have included “Mice and Men”
at Birmingham Repertory Theatre, where he had previously played
in “Twelfth Night” as well as playing Petrouchio
in “The Taming of the Shrew” at the Stafford
Festival. Many other live roles at Oxford, Watford and the York
Theatre Royal. Late 2002 saw a dramatic downturn in Matthew’s
fortunes when he was arrested on charges of alledged indecency,
though happily he has been completely exhonorated and been able
to continue working. Happily, his TV career is gradually beginning
to recover from the unfortunate episode, and in 2007-2008 he
took a leading serious role as sinister murderer Brian Wicklow
in ITV1’s “Cold Blood” to both critical and
More recent performances have included Howard Barker’s “Victory:
Choices in Reaction” , in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia
Woolf ” at the Lichfield Garrick and at London’s Trafalgar
Studios, as Pandarus in Shakespeare’s “Troilus and Cressida”
at The Globe in London as well as in “Comedians”
at the Hammersmith Lyric in 2009.
In January 2010 he appeared as Pozzo in Becket’s “Waiting
for Godot” at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, and later
in the same role at the Comedy Theatre in Melbourne, Australia.
In 2012 he appeared in a Jimmy McGovern play “The Shrine”
as part of the Moving On television drama series.
1941) David Dickinson is the flamboyant presenter of “Bargain
Hunt” , the most successful daytime BBC1 Television antiques
programme with a regular audience of 2� million. He was born
in Manchester in August 1941, and comes from a Franco-American
background, with some Armenian ancestry in his family. He has
become well respected for his broad expertise, his snappy dress
sense, exuberant personality, wit and friendly charm. He began
working in the antiques trade during travels with his wife,
Lorne Lesley, a cabaret singer. While his wife entertained,
Dickinson occupied himself with looking around local antique
In the mid-70s, Dickinson, with a partner, opened his first
antique shop; while the partner served in the shop, Dickinson
travelled around auctions and bric-a-brac shops looking for
likely bargains. His shop has been successfully trading in Cheshire
for well over twenty years. However, his television career only
took off in the very late 1990s, when his qualities came to
the fore in a documentary programme, “Modern Times” .
This two episode documentary followed him as he went about his
daily business as an antiques dealer, and as he prepared for
a show at Olympia in London. He
quickly established a name for himself as a charismatic television
presenter and antiques expert on “The Antiques Hunter”
show, followed briefly by appearances on Channel 5, before being
invited to present “Bargain Hunt” on BBC1. His latest
programme is “Dickinson’s Real Deal”.
lives in Cheshire and admits to having a deep passion for driving
cars. The Dickinsons also have two grown-up children, Robert
Manchester born on 23 June 1955, Maggie Philbin attended Manchester
University to study drama with fellow classmates who included
Rik Mayall, Ade Edmondson (of “The Young Ones” and “Bottom”
fame) and Ben Elton. Her
television career took off when she replied to an advertisement
in The Stage for a place on the hit “Saturday Morning
Swap Shop” show which was hosted by Noel Edmonds – she was,
in fact, the show’s first female presenter. While on this show
she met her future husband, Keith Chegwin (“Cheggers”). From
here she went on to co-presenting “Hospital Watch” , the
first live television show of its kind reporting on the first
ever ‘live’ caesarean birth. She worked on BBC 1’s “Tomorrow’s
World” from 1982-1989.
her marriage to Chegwin in 1982 they briefly shared a roadshow
called “Swaparama” , but when, in the early 1990s,Keith’s
depression turned to alcoholism, the marriage ended and the
pair divorced. She appears fairly infrequently nowadays on television
from time to time in various guest roles, including “Call
My Bluff” . Maggie enjoys riding and dining out. She also
ran the London Marathon in 1994. She
is still best remembered as a co-presenter of “Tomorrow’s
World” , whose scientific style still makes her a popular
celebrity speaker at technology awards and science fairs. In
2008 she created TeenTech an interactive science and
engineering event for teenagers which in 2010 was awarded Best
Engineering Event by the British Science Association.
From 2007 she has been BBC News ‘face of technology on television,
radio and online’. From December 2011 she launched the ‘Helping
Hand Campaign’, encouraging digital switchover help for the
elderly. She regularly reports on “Inside Out”