The Story of Light Entertainment

Aired 22nd July 2006, BBC2. Cannon and Ball were guests on the show, speaking about their career while a number of clips of their shows were featured.

Narrator: Cannon and Ball were another nightclub act which made the leap into big-time television stardom. In the act Tommy Cannon bullied little Bobby Ball. As a result the audience loved Bobby but hated Tommy.

Bobby: Certainly when we first started doing all this stuff, people really believed it, the general public really believed what’s happening – I mean he used to go outside some clubs and got hit by women with umbrellas; they used to hit him, because they believed he was really picking on me.

Narrator: The formula worked. Tommy hit Bobby, and Cannon and Ball hit the big time.

Bobby: We had a Rolls Royce, we had a lot of money, we had a boat, we just….listen, we’re two lads from Oldham. You’ve got to think about it, if we’ve got a grand in our pocket, blimey, you spend it.

Tommy: We lost a little control as well, through it because of it all been, all of a sudden, whoosh, all this sort of success is on top of you, and, you know, really to be honest about it, we weren’t young kids when it happenned, so…

Bobby: Well, I were a lot younger than you

Tommy: Well you were, yes, you were younger than me. So consequently we lost the plot a little bit with it.

Narrator: Bobby Ball became a comedy superstar. Women loved him and the money was pouring in. But the lifelong friendship with Tommy began to fall apart.

Bobby: Me and this lad here had come from a welding floor and worked all the way through, and we ended up falling out. Now no fame’s worth that.

Tommy: Bournemouth was one of the worst summer seasons that we could have possibly had. As I remember, Bournemouth backstage was a long corridor, Bobby had one dressing room at the bottom end and I had it at the top end. We passed in the corridor, and we literally had to turn side by side to pass one another, if you like, and we wouldn’t even speak to one another. And I’d go home and night, and I’ll be honest, I used to cry. It was one of the worst periods of my life, it really was. I couldn’t understand why it was there. We’re right in the heart of the success, we couldn’t want for anything else at that particular time in our lives and for some reason we’re not getting on. What’s brought all this on?

Bobby: I think it was egos took over. I mean, your ego’s continually being stroked while you’re on television, always being stroked. You see I thought I was the main one of the act and he thought he was the main one of the act, and he should have realised it was me.

Narrator: After four years of not spekaing, Cannon and Ball were on the brink of collapse. But a fateful meeting would change everything.

Bobby: I met a fellow called Max Wigley who was a vicar, he started talking about God, I found it very interesting and it gave me a bit of peace. And I started looking at Tom, and I looked at him in a different light, because I started seeing the good in him and not the bad.

Narrator: Tommy Cannon also became a Christian, and they now regularly tour with their gospel shows.

Bobby: We know double acts who didn’t get on, and went their full career not getting on, and the public never knew. We’ve been honest about ours, and said ‘Look, we didn’t get on for four years,’ and it’s fantastic now. We went on I’m a Celebrity together, we do shows together, we’re here together – not as young men any more, but we’ve been through all that, and it’s great at the end of your career to say ‘we went there, and we came out of it’, and we did, for whatever reason. We hated one another, now we love each other.

In the papers…

The TV show was featured and reviewed in a number of papers – pictures shown are from the Times’ weekend supplement.