Blackpool Big Night Out

Blackpool Big Night Out screenshot

First shown on Boxing Day 2012, the programme featured a mix of archive footage and celebrities talking about the different aspects to live entertainment in Blackpool – including the different theatres, the piers, illuminations, Tower and circus, and the many big names who had played there over the years.

Tommy and Bobby contributed throughout the programme, but in particular towards the end of the show when they spoke about their summer seasons in Blackpool during the 1980s

At the start of the programme

Bobby: Blackpool

Tommy: There’s that many stars played Blackpool, you couldn’t count them. There’s that many played Blackpool.

On Blackpool

Bobby: It was a brilliant, absolutely brilliant, brilliant place. There was nothing you couldn’t do or see here, that’s why we love Blackpool, it’s alive. If you come into the town, even now, you can feel a vibe. It’s just alive. A lot of seaside places, you can’t feel that. You can feel it in Blackpool.

On the illuminations

Tommy: To switch the illuminations on is mega. It’s mega and we were asked to do it. And it’s the first time ever that the North Pier allowed a car down, to get us off, because we couldn’t get off cause the pier were rammed with people. We couldn’t get off there pier. We were stuck on the pier, so they had to get a car and the car drove through the people otherwise would have never been able to…

Bobby: Not over them

Tommy: Well, no. But drove, drove towards them, yeah.

On theatres

Bobby: There was the ABC. There was the Winter Garden. There were two theatres within the Winter Gardens. There was the Grand. There was the three piers. Every theatre had a 10 piece band, ten or twelve dancers, a speciality act, singers, comedians. Everywhere, packed. You couldn’t get in. It was amazing, weren’t it, the atmosphere was amazing.

Tommy: Unreal, unreal.

On landlady’s night

Tommy: You used to have a landlady’s night when you came into summer season…

Bobby: Aye, they did, didn’t they

Tommy: …and it was called landladies night, right. And all the landladies from all the guest house hotels all took up the first ten, fifteen rows and you knew, most important night of all because them ladies then would go back and they’d sell your show to the people who were coming into the town, who stayed at the guest house. So if you didn’t do a good show you knew about it, cause the place would be half empty, yeah.

Bobby: And it didn’t matter about what the critics said, really, it’s what the landladies said, because they used to go in their houses so they would talk to them, you see.

On their own appearances

Tommy: It’s a shock, really, when it happens because, we only ever saw as kids, if you like, these big stars on posters and stuff, and then to think that we came and travelled that same journey, if you like. And then when we hit Blackpool, what were it, 1979/80 season the town was just splattered with Cannon and Ball. Over the busses. Up North Pier, the biggest sign we’ve ever seen of us in lights. And you know, it was just we, to be honest, we couldn’t take it in and then of course, to switch the lights on the same year as well was like, what else can happen, you know?

On summer seasons

Bobby: Me and him had been going 18 years when we got on telly. And the first time we topped a bill was at the pier, the North Pier. And we came over from Oldham and we parked our cars and we walking to the North Pier and we see this queue going out of the North Pier from the box office. Halfway up the front, big queue, 3 or 4 deep, like that. I said to him. Look at that. I wonder who’s on besides us.

Tommy: And I looked up, what do you mean, besides us, I said it’s me and you they’ve come to see

Bobby: I think it’s for us. I can’t tell you the kick we got out of that,

Tommy: Oh, it was unreal

Bobby: Because to make it in your own territory. It’s like fantastic, isn’t it, really?

(Clip from Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club)

Bobby: We did 18 weeks 6 nights a week.

Tommy: Two shows a day

Bobby: Two shows a day and we’ve sold out every one of them.

Laurie Mansfield: Bobby Ball, we knew before Blackpool, but Blackpool proved that he was a comic genius and Tommy Cannon is perhaps the great underrated straight man of modern comedy. Together they were dynamite.

Bobby: And Lord Delfont, we’re doing the North Pier and it was full, and he owned the piers and it was full. And he came up to the little stage door and they said, I’ll tell you what, Mr Delfont, you. can’t come in. He said why is that? He said cos, it’s full. Lord Delfont said that’s fantastic. I’ll stand at the back. He said. No, you’re not allowed to stand at the back. He said, but I own the theatre. He said, I don’t care, you’re not coming in here, spoiling this show. And he wouldn’t let Delfont in and he never forgot it.

(Clip from Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club)

Laurie Mansfield: The most amazing season that I was ever associated with in Blackpool was when Cannon and Ball returned two years later to play at the Opera House

Tony Jo, theatre producer: Cannon and Ball at the Opera House, 3000 seats, twice nightly, 630 and 8:30, six nights a week for 22 weeks. Sold out. That’s 36,000 people a week, watching one show repeated 6 nights a week. Twice nightly. That is awesome.

(Clip from Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club)

Bobby: When we walked on here, we walked on here and we walk on and you gotta think who else has walked on this stage? Who else has done this?


The show featured a whole host of other celebrities, including Keith Harris and Orville, Roy Chubby Brown, Ken Dodd, Jimmy Crickett, Bernie Clifton, Syd Little, Eddie Large, Su Pollard, Mooky and Mr Boo