Bringing Sunshine All the way

We’ve been honoured to host some of our country’s funniest and most famous entertainers. In fact we’ve been well and truly tickled pink.

Ken Dodd brought his Diddy Men to Blackpool for many shows, including his famous Laughter Spectacular, and described the Opera House as the best theatre he’d ever worked in.

Diddy was one of the headline comics for a series of summer shows featuring the best acts in the business, from Little and Large and Mike Yarwood, to Les Dawson and the Roly Polys.

Looking further back in time, it always turned out nice for George Formby, who launched the re-opening of the Opera House in 1939.

Other national classics to grace our stage include Arthur Askey, who greeted us with his catchphrase “Hello Playmates!”

Then there was the fabulous female impersonator Danny La Rue, whose inimitable, flamboyant style and charm will never be forgotten.

Our best-loved British sitcoms also made their way to the Winter Gardens for the stage versions of their hit comedy shows. 

In the 80s, the cast of Hi-de-Hi! came to say “Morning campers!”

In the 70s, the department store sales staff from Are You Being Served? checked out our venue to say “That’ll do!”

During lockdown, our guests have enjoyed sharing comic memories on Facebook. Lyn Gaskell recalls working with Ken Dodd and meeting him backstage after the show. Simon Bashford told us how he loved playing one of the Ugly Sisters alongside Dave Lee in Jim Davidson’s Sinderella.

Lisa Roylance, who used to work in the box office, remembers having to dog sit Bernie Winter’s dog Schnorbitz. “That was hilarious,” she said. She and her friend were also called up on stage for a card trick by Freddie Starr. who was filming his Armed and Dangerous video. Lisa commented: “So many fantastic memories. Happy days.”

Happy Days indeed.

Paul Daniels left many magic memories, The Crankies were indisputably fan-dabi-dozi, and local legends Roy Walker and late greats Keith Harris and Bobby Ball, with his comedy other half Tommy as Cannon & Ball, have helped us chuckle our way through the decades.

We’ve welcomed so many comedy heroes, if they’re not mentioned here, we thank them too for bringing us laughter.

Which leads us to the loveable, legendary double-act Morecambe Wise, whose statue graces our Church Street entrance.

The duo appeared in the 1955 Royal Variety Performance here, and they were the much-loved stars of many summer shows. Their statue sees them forever side by side in Blackpool – the place they called their “spiritual home.”

Let’s finish by taking a bow to Morecambe and Wise and their fellow comedy greats for bringing us fun, sunshine and love, come what may.

Throughout the pandemic we’ve been sharing stories of happy days at the Winter Gardens. As we took a joyful trip down memory lane, one thing became very clear – no matter what storms we’ve been through we could always rely on our comedy greats to bring us sunshine.

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