Look-In Magazine, 12th April 1980

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A super new series starts this Friday at 7.30 pm. It’s very funny, and it’s very fiery, because it’s…


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The two former workmates from a Lancashire engineering factory have really hit the big time, and it all came about in rather a strange fashion, as Tommy Cannon – the “straight” half of the duo – told Look-in’s Richard Tippett recently.

“We did some sketches for Bruce Forsyth’s Big Night a couple of years ago, but, because of the trouble that the show went through critically, they were dropped and we thought ‘oh, well, that’s the end of that then.’ But London Weekend TV’s director of programmes, Michael Grade, saw the bits we’d done and liked what he saw. So he invited us back to do our own show. “

But that wasn’t the only up-and-down time, TV-wise, for Cannon and Ball. Explained Bobby Ball, the man who supplies the comedy ammunition: “We’ve had a fair hit of bad luck, you know. Our first series which went out last year, was hit by the ITV strike. Mind you, it got shown later on in the winter schedule, so in the end we had more viewers!”

Cannon and Ball shot to fame pretty rapidly. How long had they been learning their trade? “Fifteen years,” replied Bobby. “We’d been all over the place building up our act. Australia, South Africa, Europe, all over England.” Not bad for two comics who started life with laughter furthest from their minds. “Yes,” said Tommy. “We were originally singers, but I knew that there was more to us than that.” Continued Bobby: “It was Tommy who pushed me into comedy, really. And the two of us continued to build up our rapport from there.”

Part of that rapport is the now famous catch-phrase, “Rock On, Tommy”. How did it come about? Bobby explained: “It was about six years ago, when David Essex’s hit. Rock On, was doing so well. I just said it in our act, and from there it stuck. It used to be only people in clubs who’d shout it at us, but now we find that it’s being said all over the place.”

The duo have quite an affiliation with rock ‘n’ roll. “That’s how our name came about,” said Bobby. “We’re really Robert Harper and Tommy Derbyshire, but we knew that they weren’t good showbiz names. In those days, there was a rock singer around named Tommy Cannon, and we thought it was a good name. So, having got that half cleared up, it wasn’t long before ‘Ball’ made up the combination.

“Before that, we’d looked at names like Rogers and Hammerstein, but that had already been done.

There’s a lot of fun on the set of a Cannon and Ball show, as both the lads explained. “At the end of the last show of the last series,” said Tommy, “the studio audience were told that it was my birthday, which it was. The producer turned round and told them, we’ve got a present for Tommy’. Having got mv hopes up, they really did have a present – a load of custard pies, which they threw all over me. It hasn’t been shown on the TV, but it might be a good cutting-room floor insert in a few years time.”

“I had trouble with Liza Goddard,” said Bobby. “Every time I looked at her, she’d just break up with laughter, and we had to repeat the sketch we were doing time after time after time.”

Oh well, as they say in the trade, that’s showbiz…


Bobby Ball’s Braces Must Be Won

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Here’s the chance for you to really bring Spring into your life – plus a little support, and a couple of autographs for good measure.

Bobby Ball – comic half of the Cannon and Ball duo – is renowned not only for his ‘Rock On, Tommy’ catch-phrase, but also for the braces he consistently twangs on TV.

Well, Bobby is now prepared to stop his twanging and let his trousers fall to good purpose – because he’s giving the winner of our competition the actual braces that keep him in strapping good form on Cannon and Ball’s TV series.

Not only that, but they are also being specially autographed for Look-in by the fiery twosome!

To enter our competition, just take a look at the questions below and when you think you’ve found the answers, write them onto a postcard, please, and send it to; Look-in Cannon And Ball Comp., P.O. Box 141, London SE6 3HR, not forgetting to include your name, address and age, The sender of the first correct entry drawn from the postbag after the closing date, Monday, April 28th, 1980, will receive Bobby Ball’s braces.

1. What are the real names of Cannon and Ball?
2. Cannon and Ball worked in an engineering factory in which English county?
3. The catchphrase “Rock On, Tommy” is based on whose hit record?
4. Which comedy actress did Bobby Ball cause to “break up with laughter” on their first TV series?
5. Upon whose show were Cannon And Ball spotted by London Weekend TV director of programmes, Michael Grade?