Little and Large

August 7, 2009

Little-and-Large

When I was a kid my mum and dad would get free tickets to go to the The Talk of the North in Eccles. Free because my mum worked for Salford City Council and a friend of hers new someone who knew Joe Pullen, the owner of the club. And off they’d go, with the rector and his wife and they’d see Little and Large, Cannon and Ball, Matt Monro, Bob Monkhouse. Bob Monkhouse was apparently “a bit blue” but that wouldn’t stop the rector from laughing. Once my dad went with my Uncle Jack, and there was a belly dancer on. My Uncle Jack tells me my dad was quite intrigued by such exotica. He whispered to Jack “what will you do if she comes over here?” Uncle Jack said, “she’s coming”. And with that my dad ran off to the toilets. It’s an inherited trait that to this day, with regret, I follow.

As a result of these trips I ended up with a fine collection of signed photos. I have one that was signed to my mum by Matt Monro. It says “To Pat, thanks, Matt Monro.” Thanks? I’ve never dared ask.

Yesterday we had a casting for something we won’t get, but that’s that. Also there, was Syd Little. We’d met Syd and Eddie years ago on a comedy panel show on ITV2 (it was in the early days, 1998-ish and I can’t remember its title). The rough idea was that it pitched older style comedians against the upstart young ones. We met a fair few, including Syd and Eddie, Stan Boardman, Tim Brooke-Taylor. I loved it. Standing at the bar afterwards, listening to their tales; sometimes tolerating their rants and their bitterness; other times openly disagreeing (oh, we were such upstarts of the alternative circuit!); and I got to meet one of The Goodies!

But here’s the thing. A lot of the old school comedians were despised by the young upstarts. And whilst some of them were openly spewing forth bile and hatred (yes, you Manning) most were just trying to make a living by making people laugh. There are worse things you can do.

It’s easy to forget now, but Little and Large were on BBC1 for 13 years in a row. I can’t remember much of their comedy, and I was at an age where I was starting to develop my own ideas about what was funny and what wasn’t, so I most likely didn’t watch them that much. But when I met them, they were lovely. They weren’t bitter and twisted, they weren’t ranting and raving about not being on TV anymore. They’d had a good run and I think they could understand that the comedy times they were a-changing.

They’re both in their sixties now and speaking to Syd yesterday we heard that Eddie had a heart transplant a few years ago. All the best, Eddie. I imagine he is quite looking forward to Manchester City’s forthcoming season, being a celebrity fan of the club from a time before Liam and Noel were even eyebrow-less babies.

Syd’s still working. Mainly on his own. He’s done a few years on cruise ships. I was moved by how he talked of going solo. He clearly had been nervous about such a venture; and then relieved and possibly surprised when he found he could do it.

I like meeting comedians. I like meeting the older comedians. I like realising that people who have been defined by their act, for good or bad, aren’t actually their act.

Cyril Mead is 67 years old and lives in Fleetwood.

(Come on! You didn’t really think he was called Syd Little?)

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3 Responses to “Little and Large”

  1. Sammy said

    Hi Simon! Lovely to hear your comments about Little and Large, Eddie Large is my father and it is nice to read your views. Hope you are doing well, I was a pant swinger and reside in Bury, I think you were from Prestwich or I may be completely off the mark!! Anyway all the best and I will direct my dad to your site too. Sammy

  2. Simon Hickson said

    Hi Sammy,

    Thank you for leaving a comment. My mum lives in Prestwich now. Originally, all the family were in Salford. Give my best wishes to your dad. I hope he is keenly watching City’s season- a good start yesterday!

    All the best, Simon x

  3. Sharon said

    I enjoyed a good laugh reading/thinking about mum and dad at the Talk of the North.
    Do you remember Cleo Laine and Johnny Dankworth? They are giving a free concert in San Jose next week.
    Might go.
    Love Sharon

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