View Full Version : 'A Brush With Fame'

Roger Dyer
6th July 2015, 10:20 AM
The Lord's Taverners is a registered charity whose aim it is to support recreational cricket and it is the U.K.'s leading 'youth cricket' and disability sports charity. Founded in 1950, the organisation's founding president was John Mills (later Sir John). Usually, the presidency only lasts for one or two years, but several celebrities have held the position on more than one occasion. Previously, persons voted into this prestigious position have included Tommy Trinder (1956), the Duke of Edinburgh (1960-62), Sir Harry Secombe (1967-68), Victor Sylvester (1972), Eric Morecombe (1977-79), Sir David Frost(1985-86) and Mike Gatting (2005-07). The Lord's Taverner's Ball is an event held each year. It's purpose is to gather together the glitterati from the worlds of sport, theatre, films, television and radio, with other prominent people. They are encouraged to make generous donations to the charity and, without fail, never disappoint.

In 1955, I was a 15 year old trainee boy on the four-masted steel barque, 'Arethusa' (formerly the 'Peking' of the famous flying 'P' line, Pamir, Passat, etc, etc.). That year, boys from the 'Arethusa' were chosen to provide a guard of honour for the guest-of-honour, Princess Alexandra of Kent at the event which was held in London. The Princess, was the nation's favourite young Royal at that time, a delightful young woman whose bearing, charm and attitude in the public arena probably set the bar for Princess Diana and Princess Kate who came after. Just a naturally vivacious young lady, indeed guarding her was a privilege and an honour. In full R.N. winter uniform(black cap in those days) we formed up and did the business. Later, we were given the opportunity to mingle with the celebrities thus providing an autograph hunter's dream come true. Rather than treat us with mild disdain or make us feel that we were an inconvenience to be endured, they indulged our starstruck awe with a friendly tolerance. Looking at my autograph book now, sixty years later, some of the names I find difficult to put a face to whereas others come back like it was only yesterday. My own particular 'bag' contained the following to which I have added some comment that might help to jog the memory of older members.

BRUCE SETON - British Actor and Soldier. During the 1950's he played the part of 'Fabian of the Yard', a popular T.V. series at that time. From a military family, Seton's career was interrupted by the war in which he served with the 'Cameronians' attaining the rank of Major before wars end. He was also a baronet, having inherited his brother's baronetcy when he died without heirs. His full title was Major Sir Bruce Lovat Seton of Abercorn, 11th Baronet. Perhaps a bit too long for a cinema billboard or the T.V.Times.:rolleyes:

JACK TRAIN - A popular Radio and Film actor during the war years. He created the character of Colonel Chinstrap in Tommy Handley's radio show 'ITMA'

MACDONALD HOBLEY- Headed the team of early BBC Continuity Announcers that included Peter Haigh and the charming, delightful Sylvia Peters and also with, Peters, compered the 'Come Dancing' programme on T.V. Also appeared as compere on many other T.V. shows and on radio was Chairman of 'Does the Team Think'.

JIM LAKER - Legendary English bowler who at Old trafford in 1956, destroyed the Australians single-handedly when he took 19 wickets of the 20 on offer. Played 46 tests between 1948-1959, taking 193 with an average of 21.24. In all first class matches he took 1,944 wickets at an average of 18.41 - bluddy phenomenal.

STIRLING MOSS - Needs no introduction from me. Still considered by many to be the greatest F1 Driver never to win a Driver's World Championship.

FREDDIE MILLS - Former English Boxer and World Light Heavyweight Champion from 1948-1950. Was Britain's biggest boxing idol during the post-war period. In retirement he managed to remain in the public eye with various walk-on parts in films and at one time was the presenter of the weekly Pop-Show 'Six-Five Special'. Later failed in a night-club venture and was a friend of the Kray twins. In 1965 he was found shot dead in his car, the weapon lying beside him. Subsequently a Coroner found his death was consistent with suicide. It has also been said that at the time of his death he was heavily in debt to a crime syndicate and that he feared for his life. In 2002 a book about Mills suggested that during his life he had murdered up to eight women and that he had a homosexual relationship with singer, Michael Holliday, and Ronnie Kray.

DICK BENTLEY - Australian, Bentley, was a co-star of Jimmy Edward's 'Take it From Here', a popular radio show of the time.. He appeared in several films and in the 1978 season of the T.V. show, 'Some Mothers do 'ave 'em' he played the part of Frank Spencer's grandad. He died in 1995 from complications relating to Alzheimer's Disease.

BRIAN HEWSON - a well known track and field athlete of that era. He represented Great Britain at two consecutive summer Olympics (1956 in the men's 1500m and in 1960 in the mens 800m). He won a gold medal in the 1500m race at the 1958 European Championships in Stockholm.

PETER DIMMOCK - Pioneering Sports broadcaster and senior executive of British television during the formative years of the 50's. Was the first host of the BBC's long-running 'Grandstand' and the 'Sports Personality of the Year'Awards.

UFFA FOX - Famous English boat designer, sailing enthusiast and friend of the Duke of Edinburgh. His achievements in the design of boats are far too many to mention here, however, one that did provide great service during the war was his design of airborne lifeboats for carriage in Lancasters and U.S.A.A.F. bombers. A native of the Isle of Wight, he was raised in East Cowes (little wonder that sailing and boats were his passion). I imagine our shipmate, Keith Tindell, would know a bit about him.

GODFREY EVANS - Another English cricket legend, who played for Kent. Described by Wisden as 'arguably the best wicket-keeper the game has seen'. He collected 219 dismissals in 91 Test appearances between 1946-1959 and a total of 1066 an all first class matches. He was the first Englishman to reach 2000 runs and 200 dismissals in test cricket.

DONALD SINDEN - An English Actor in theatre, film, Television and radio, he was an author to boot. His voice resonated on stage and screen for more than sixty years. He won great critical acclaim for his first screen leading role when he shared top-billing with Jack Hawkins in 'The Cruel Sea'. He made many films after that and later in his career became well known for his comedy roles. He received a CBE in 1979 and was knighted in 1997. During the course of his long career he won many awards. He died in September, 2014, aged 90.

DIANE LEATHER - The first woman to run a mile in under 5 minutes, having already run in another 800m event that same afternoon. For women it was indeed a great achievement, but almost went unnoticed in the shadow of Bannister's sub-4 minute mile for men just three weeks earlier. During a nine month period in 1953-54 she broke three world records, twice in the 3x 880 yards relay and also in the 880 yards.

THELMA HOPKINS - Another British female athlete, born in Hull, Yorks, she represented N.Ireland. In May, 1956, she broke the world record for the high-jump in Belfast with a jump of 1.74m. She competed for Great Britain in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics winning a silver medal. Earlier, in 1954, she won a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games. As well as athletics she excelled at Hockey playing for Ireland Women's team and won 40 caps Furthermore, she represented Ireland as a squash player. A true athlete.

JACK HAWKINS - English Actor of theatre and film from 1935 until the 1970's. Recently he was the subject of some discussion on the 'Memorable Movie, etc' thread so I'll not elaborate here except to say how much he impressed me with his kindly manner towards this young 15 year old who was pestering him for his autograph (and a nice neat signature he had as well). Sometimes it seems as if he appeared in every second British war film made in the 50's and early 60's, but, in truth, he only ever appeared in five. Not including 'Bridge Over the River Kwai' which was basically an American made film anyway. In 1954 he was voted Britain's biggest box-office draw for that year. He died in 1973, aged just 62, following complications from throat cancer and surgery to insert a voice-box.

JOAN REGAN - Singer and lovely lady (particularly when dealing with young lads). Popular in the 50's to early 60's, she signed her first recording contract with Decca in 1953, following her making of a demo disc for impressario, Bernard Delfont. In the 50's she went on to make a number of top 40 hits for that label. In the late 50's she made several appearances at the London Palladium including a Royal Command Performance. Later, after leaving Decca, she recorded with HMV and Pye. In 1984, she slipped in the shower and suffered a brain haemorrhage. The subsequent operation left her paralysed and speechless. It took many months before she could sing again but with encouragement from pianist and friend, Russ Conway,she was able to resume her career and went on to record for Nectar Records. Joan continued singing, entertaining and supporting charities until aged 82. She died in September, 2013, aged 85.

PETER HAIGH- Another of the early continuity announcers during the formative years of British Television. A colleague of MacDonald Hobley (see above) his face was seen regularly on television during the 1950's.

I would be interested to know whether some of our older members recall any of those named above, or better still have a personal memory of their own to share.


P.S. Apart from my own comments, much of the information added above came courtesy of Wikipedia.

Captain Kong
6th July 2015, 11:49 AM
I remember all those celebs, all quite famous in those days.
On Sunday, yesterday Stirling Moss drove his Vintage Racing Car around the circuit at Silverstone.
Not Racing just showing off his old car for the fans. Before the big Race.

I have met many movie Stars, I had Jayne Mansfield sat on my knee singing to me, I was top salesman for the Gas Board and they had Jayne as entertainer at a club they hired for me. Six weeks later she was killed in the car crash and lost her head.
On the QE2 I met many movie stars at the Captain`s private Cocktail parties, BUT in those circumstances you do not mention their celebrity status or ask for autographs or photos of them. Bad form to do that. I spent the after noon with Richard Dreyfus in a hotel swim pool in Montego Bay, interesting to talk to, I told him many of my yarns, we had a few drinks, me on rum and Coke, he just on coke, he does have a drink prob.
Interesting people who just live in a fantasy world.

Keith Tindell
6th July 2015, 01:07 PM
I remember most of the names you mention,only ever met Geodfrey Evans, very briefly , he served me a pint, in a pub in New Milton Hampshire, he had also been landlord at another pub in Petersfield Hampshire. With regard to Uffa Fox, stories abound here on the Island of him, one goes that a holiday maker from Birmingham was watching Uffa on his boat, got chatting, and Uffa offered him a sail, the guy took up the offer, and Uffa promptly sailed across the channel to Cherbourg with him, poor guys family had no idea where he was, and had the police looking for him. One of the firemen that I worked with had worked as a boatbuilder for Uffa, and Uffa instructed this guy to teach Prince Charles to sail,which he did over several visits, Kt

happy daze john in oz
7th July 2015, 06:28 AM
Roger, names I had long forgotten but now recall with relish, they were all great at their various attributes.

Captain Kong
7th July 2015, 08:14 AM
I was with Errol Flynn in 1954 on the TILAPA skin boat in Port Antonio, he came on board to see if he could buy a case of whisky, the Captain a Bible thumper , dry ship, sent him down the gangway, So he invited the crowd to go to the ZACCA his yacht at Naval Island across the bay
we had a great time with him drinking Rum
Good Whisky was very hard to get in 1954, then in 1957 on The Valdivia in Palma Majorca I went ashore to post a letter and saw him sat a table outside a bar reading the paper, I went to him and he recognised me,. W e started drinking and I was legless, I could hear the ship blowing and we got a taxi back, She was just moving off the quay and I had to jump across to the rails and the crowd pulled me over, The Captain was screaming abuse at me to come on the bridge. I went and told him that I had been led astray by Flynn, he wouldn't believe me so I showed him over the wing of the bridge and Flynn was Waving a bottle and shouting good bye, The Skipper let me off with a logging.

Ron Kendall
7th July 2015, 08:47 AM
Errol Flynn, born in Tasmania, was reputedly the Great, Great,Great, Great Grandson of Fletcher Christian, of the Bounty.

John Arton
7th July 2015, 08:59 AM
My brush with fame came with having a G and T with Lizzie and Phil. Well not exactly on a one to one basis but in a room full of stable hands and grooms.
This happened after a carriage driving event that used to be held at Lowther Castle near Penrith. Phil was (and is still) a carriage driving nut and was very near the top of the world in the 4 in hand class.
My pal was very friendly with a wealthy lady whose passion was pony and trap driving and who attended all those events. We were up at Lowther to watch the events and Phil came 2nd in is class. At the end of thee event (spread over a number of days) there was a "grooms ball" held for all the stable hands and we got an invite through my mates friend.
I was happily supping free G and T when a hush fell over the room as Liz and Phil entered. They were soon circulating and putting all at ease chatting to all and sundry. Liz came past me and my pal and asked us what class we were in (carriage driving that is) and we explained that we were there as guests of one of the competitors in the pony and trap class. She asked us how our friend had got on in the competition and we had to guess her result as we had spent most of the time in the beer tent.
Another year at the same event, Phil lost control of his carriage and the horses bolted, running amok towards the crowd with phil and his crew yelling at all to get the f*ck out of the way. He was saved by a young stable hand who managed to grab the reins of the leading carriage horse and bring the team under contrl. Verrrry scary.
Also shared a carriage with Roger Moore once when going down to Southampton to catch the ferry across to Le Havre to join a bulk carrier as Mate. He was most pleasant and chatted to us all in the compartment and seemed very interested in life at sea when he learnt that I was a seafarer.

john sutton
7th July 2015, 09:59 AM
many years ago I was on the Manchester committee of the Variety club of Great Britain where we raised money for kids with a variety of fund raising events.The big one was sportsman of the year where we invited business people to share a table with a high profile sportsman or entertainer.We sometimes raised as much as 50k in an evening and some of the higher profile celebrities where generous with their time and money.Bernard manning was favourite and if he was the entertainment I could sell as many as 50 tickets to my clients.I once bought a pair of Geoff Capes trainers at the auction.Size 14.I was drunk at the time and trying to "trot" the auction up and got caught holding the parcel.
In those days I used to do lunch at the Film Exchange in Manchester city centre with clients who were in coronation street. Johnie Briggs,Liz Dawn who tried to fix me up with her single sister.

Ron Kendall
7th July 2015, 10:26 AM
The National Carriage Driving event is a Lowtherthis year on August 14th 15th and 16th. Prince Philip does not take part now, he is after all, in his nineties. His main rival was a Penrith carpet dealer,called George Bowman, who was a Romany Gypsy so knew a bit about horses

Louis the fly
7th July 2015, 11:34 AM
As a young teenager I met a few people who went on to be famous. A young good looking shy lad named Billy Ashton who became Billy J. Kramer. Keith Chegwin or Cheggers. Ringo Starr when he played for Rory Storm. A few of my mates formed a band and we went for an audition in Manchester with Hughie Green, the most obnoxious two faced person I ever came across.

john sutton
7th July 2015, 03:47 PM
As a young teenager I met a few people who went on to be famous. A young good looking shy lad named Billy Ashton who became Billy J. Kramer. Keith Chegwin or Cheggers. Ringo Starr when he played for Rory Storm. A few of my mates formed a band and we went for an audition in Manchester with Hughie Green, the most obnoxious two faced person I ever came across.the drummer from the Dakotas(billy j kramers band) tony bookbinder sold insurance for me in the 80,s.He was a better drummer than insurance salesman.His cousin was elkie brooks

happy daze john in oz
8th July 2015, 05:51 AM
Back in the mid 60's I spent some time in Guilford Surrey at the theatre there, Sir M. Redgrave, his wife ad a number of other actors where there, Every afternoon prior to the evening performance I had to deliver the drinks to the Green room for them. From memory Gin and Brandy were the favourites.

John Arton
8th July 2015, 08:02 AM
The National Carriage Driving event is a Lowtherthis year on August 14th 15th and 16th. Prince Philip does not take part now, he is after all, in his nineties. His main rival was a Penrith carpet dealer,called George Bowman, who was a Romany Gypsy so knew a bit about horses
This thread has stirred my grey matter. Met George Bowman a number of times but outside of carriage driving. Met Hughie Green on Lancaster railway station, he was a rail fanatic and had wrangled a trip in the cab of British Rail Delta class diesel loco. I was in a night club in St. Helens with my brother in law and his brother. Marti Wilde was the headline act and after giving it all on stage was accosted by my brother in laws brother. Thinking that we wanted his autograph he was a bit miffed when brother in laws brother said to him, "Don't you think you are getting a bit old for this sort of thing".
Bernard Manning would always stop and talk to you if you met him anywhere.
Stewart Hall, I helped a friend toss him out into my friends garden after he had drunkenly propositioned my friends wife. He was a toe rag, always trying to feel up the ladies and thought that just because he was on the roger melly they should all swoon at his feet.
Also met a few musicians, John Miles, who still lives a few miles from me to this day, smashing fellow. Roger Daltry before the Who became famous. There are a few more that would mean stirring the old grey matter a bit but its too early in the AM.

Dennis McGuckin
8th July 2015, 03:18 PM
Had a pint with Benny Hill after his show.
Just the same off stage.

happy daze john in oz
9th July 2015, 05:40 AM
Had a pint with Benny Hill after his show.
Just the same off stage.

Still as gay as a row of tents?????

john gill
9th July 2015, 07:44 AM
Sailed with Benny Hill's cousin on the Mary, plate house man. He was the image of his cousin, albeit a bit thinner and of similar persuasion:th_thth5952deef:

john sutton
9th July 2015, 09:39 AM
18429from my days as a member of Manchester committee of variety club.I,m the one with the mustache

Dennis McGuckin
9th July 2015, 03:20 PM
Also had dinner with Dusty Springfield.
Well actually she was about six tables away.
In my mind, it still counts!