Brochure


Tour Dates and Places

Weds 30th Sept - Thurs 1st OctAshton-under-Lyne Tameside Theatre6pm and 8:45pm
Fri 2nd OctPreston Guild Hall7:30pm
Sat 3rd OctNew Brighton Pavilion6pm and 8:45pm
Sun 4th OctWinsford Civic Hall6pm and 8:45pm
Tues 6th OctDerby Assembly Rooms6:15pm and 8:45pm
Wed 7th - Thurs 8th OctStockport Davenport Theatre6:30pm and 9:15pm
Fri 9th OctSunderland Empire6:15pm and 8:45pm
Sat 10th OctMiddlesbrough Town Hall6pm and 8:45pm
Sun 11th OctOldham Queen Elizabeth Hall5:45pm and 8:30pm
Tues 13th - Weds 14th OctCardiff New Theatre6pm and 8:45pm
Fri 16th - Sat 17th OctOxford Apollo6:15pm and 9pm (16th)
6pm and 8:45pm (17th)
Sun 18th OctCroyden Fairfield Hall6pm and 8:30pm
Mon 19th OctBrighton Dome6:15pm and 8:45pm
Tues 20th OctPortsmouth Guildhall7:30pm
Sat 24th OctWolverhampton Civic Hall5:45pm and 8:30pm
Sun 25th - Mon 26th OctHull New Theatre5:45pm and 8:30pm (25th)
5:00pm and 7:30pm (26th)
Weds 28th - Sat 31st OctBradford Alhambra6pm and 8:30pm

Souvenir Programme Article

The rise of Cannon and Ball to becoming one of the most consistently 'in demand' double act in the country is one of real success. Success that can be measured in the respect and admiration of their fellow artistes, and the loyalty of their ever growing audiences.

The Cannon and Ball story is one of talent, hard work, and continual striving for perfection. This dedication is amply demonstrated nightly when they 'top the bill' at the country's leading theatres and cabaret clubs.

There cannot be many artistes today who are kept as busy as Cannon and Ball. But their success is no accident. It has been hard won. Indeed, Cannon and Ball have been regarded as one of clubland's funniest double acts for well over a decade, and remain the only entertainers to have won the prestigious Club Mirror 'Comedy Act of The Year' award on three seperate occasions.

It was in 1961 that Cannon and Ball first worked together, not as entertainers but as welders for a North West engineering company. It was here that their stage relationship developed. "Tommy used to look after me when I got into trouble. We were always fooling about for the lads at work." (Bobby Ball)

Encouraged by an enthusiastic response at work, they would often be found in the evenings entertaining a wider audience. This part of homely Lancashire is still the guardian of the music hall tradition. Talent shows and social clubs still play an active part in the community. It was to these that Cannon and Ball turned.

Initially they performed as a singing duo. "I used to sing" recalls Bobby Ball, "and Tommy would accompany me on the drums, then we would swap over and Tommy would sing to my accompaniment - all for �3.00 a night."

However, their talent for comedy soon began to enter the act. Comedy entirely original and unique; comedy loosely based on their working relationships as welders. As the act began to develop through appearances in the pubs and social clubs of South East Lancashire, they began to look out for opportunity to enter showbusiness.

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Working mainly in social clubs in the north of England, Cannon and Ball can look back at overcoming some of the toughest audiences in the country. Lesser artistes have not survived these most demanding and discriminating audiences. Sometimes they were "paid off" after only one appearance. One night in Newcastle they went on stage to complete silence. During their act there was not a flicker of response from the audience and, at the end they came off to the same silence. They were sitting afterwards in a state of mild shock when the manager came into their dressing room to congratulate them. "You did well lads" he said, "You kept 'em quiet."

Cannon and Ball not only survived this experience, but learned how to build a following that is now the envy of many top artistes. At this time they were known as 'The Harper Brothers'. In 1970 they teamed up with their present manager, Stuart Littlewood, who persuaded them that a change of name would be for the better. Over lunch one day the three came up with the name "Cannon and Ball" and from that point they have never looked back.

After two years, Cannon and Ball started to attract attention outside the north of England. In 1965 they began to appear throughout the country. It was now that their earlier tough apprenticeship proved invaluable. They were quickly able to overcome many of the problems that some northern comedians experience when appearing outside their region.

Never having to rely on dialect or stories, their zany style needed only subtle changes.

In 1972 Cannon and Ball undertook tours to Australia and South Africa for cabaret and radio.

However, their early television experiences have been less kind to the pair. Cannon and Ball still look back in anguish to the night opportunity knocked for them on Hughie Green's talent programme. "We were terrible", says Bobby Ball. "We were the proverbial 'Opportunity flops'". At the end of their act the clapometer, which registers the audience's applause "scarcely flickered", he says.

They were learning. There was another TV chance with 'The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club'. Then came what appeared to be their big chance with a projected series of appearances on Bruce Forsyth's 'Big Night', but before they had reached the screen the programme had run into ratings trouble and in the subsequent revamping their contributions had ended up on the cutting room floor.

In 1978 they undertook a nationwide tour with the American singer, Gene Pitney, appearing at the London Palladium and other major theatres.

Another TV mis-fire for Cannon and Ball came in July 1979, when technicians pulled the plugs on ITV after two shows of their first series. The couple became known among their colleagues as 'Cannon and Blackout', and it was October before the series returned. However, this series established Cannon and Ball as firm favourites with millions.

Their record-breaking panto at Bradford ran into March 1981, when they began work on the Saturday night TV series, followed by a highly successful summer season at Great Yarmouth.

All in all it has been a hectic past 12 months for Cannon and Ball. It was a year ago that their second TV series took off and they reached the number 10 spot in the ratings, and between May and September they filled the 1,500 seats of Blackpool's North Pier twice nightly and six times a week. There were occasions when enthusiastic audiences stormed the stage and two elderly holidaymakers actually died laughing at them.

All 7,000 tickets for a week at a Birmingham theatre recently were sold out eight months in advance. Even such international stars as Jack Jones, The Three Degrees, and Dionne Warwick, had not attracted such interest, said the manager, who added: "With these bookings we could play them 52 weeks in the year."

But for a couple of proud north countrymen the final accolade came in the autumn when they were invited to switch on the Blackpool illuminations: an honour which compares roughly with having a rose named after you at the Chelsea Flower Show. Their immediate predecessors in this role were Kermit and Red Rum. "They ran out of animals", jokes Bobby Ball.

Their LP 'Rock On Tommy' gained them a silver disc and their two singles have been selling well.

A few years ago, Eric Morecambe named them as "the next double act", and has since gone on to say: "I like them because they emanate a lot of warmth. Bobby Ball has a lot of heart and Tommy Cannon isn't just a straight man. Another five years will establish them in a big way".

They are certainly repaying their early confidence for it is easy to see why Cannon and Ball are so much sought after as top stars in Britain's theatres and cabarets.

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Support Acts

Diane Lee (of Peters and Lee)Singer
Bobby PattinsonComedian
Chris North and JillIllusionist
Wild AffairDancers
Mike Ryal OrchestraOrchestra