Memoirs ...... the 1980s & 1990s .........


THE ZOO A Granada film for tv about a football team, of which I was a member. All the soccer playing was filmed at Preston North End's ground. We had to attend some training sessions with the official team coach, which left us slightly fatigued - I can remember opening the car door at the end of a particularly strenuous session and I couldn't lift my leg over the door sill!

FUN FACTORY - Granada's follow up to "Mersey Pirate" and broadcast live from the ex-warehouse nearby that was "Albion Market." I mimed to a prerecorded version of "Saturday Cowboys"which was a single release on DJM at the time, and also interviewed a girl who was the champion UK bubble gum blower. Elvis Costello was another guest on this episode, and it was Jeremy Beadle's first TV programme.

Here I am, talking to Billy Butler & performing the song:


CROWN COURT - I played a dodgy electrician called Rex Meredith who rewired a disco before it burnt down. I remember Elizabeth Spriggs playing the defendant and Pamela Salem as a barrister.

GLAMOUR GIRLS - This was a Granada series starring Bridget Forsyth. I played a bloke in a restaurant complaining bitterly about the service.


BOTTLE OF GUINNESS SUPPORTERS' CLUB - This was a £2m advertising campaign which included two 10 sec and two 45 sec tv adverts. I played and sang the title role of the foreman on the building site who bought all the construction workers a round of drinks in the pub at night. In an effort not to waste freshly poured Guinness from each take, we ended up slightly the worse for wear at the end of a three day shoot. The song was a parody of a Gilbert and Sullivan song from HMS Pinafore.

Here's the advert:

STRANGERS - A Granada series which was the forerunner of "Taggart." I played one of the detectives at a weekend conference on urban guerrilla tactics. The mansion house where it was filmed (near Macclesfield) is now a restaurant.


CORONATION STREET - I did three episodes as Harry the Breadman who fancied Bet Lynch when she lived over Alf Roberts' corner shop. Harry also flirted with Deirdre, who worked in the shop at the time. Link to: Who's who in Coronation Street

INSURANCE MAN - Another Alan Bennett film, this one about Franz Kafka as a young man. My scenes were filmed in a tannery in Keighley which, without any tampering, passed for Czechoslovakia in 1912! I shall never forget my immortal script direction-"Workman B is pissing"


EMMERDALE - I played a customer who entered the Woolpack pub, but after looking round and after having a few words with Amos, the landlord, decided to take my custom elsewhere.

BONNY BRID - A 3 part BBC NW series about the effect of the cotton famine on the working folk of Lancashire. I played the local singer and concertina player, both at the pub and at a wedding.

PRIVATE FUNCTION - In this film I was the painter who was renovating the chiropodist's shop that Michael Palin's character had taken over. My speaking part ended up on the cutting room floor. However, that particular scene was also recorded by BBC2 for FILM 84 with Barry Norman. So, in between interviews with Alan Bennett (writer) and Malcolm Mowbray (writer and director) the tv broadcast that very scene-before the film was released without it!


HIDEAWAY- This was a series about an alleged criminal hiding in the depths of Derbyshire. I played a champion darts player. It took nearly two hours to to do a cutaway shot of a dart hitting the bull!

LADA TRAINING FILM - I played a rather thick counter assistant called Wally who worked behind the sales counter in a garage. Needless to say, he did everything wrong. Because I was involved in every scene the time during the three day shoot seemed to fly by.


RITA SUE AND BOB TOO - Directed by Alan Clarke. My part was the schoolteacher, which involved a scene in the classroom and another walking up the steep hill in Haworth (ten times)

Here is the classroom scene, and then a part of the Haworth scene.


BBC2 NEWSNIGHT - This was an election special, and because Bolton town is judged to be a barometer of national voting opinion, I was asked to write a song which included certain relevant issues in each verse. For instance, I sang the verse about hospitals outside the hospital gates, and the education verse outside a school. Very unusual to have a singer on Newsnight.

The eighties were filled with live performances including a return trip to Cyprus, three visits to Hong Kong, the Shetlands Festival, and radio programmes, such as "Folk On 2" "Unglamorous Nights" (Radio 3) "You and Yours" (Radio 4) and quite a few on local networks. It wasn't until '89 that I did another live theatre production. This was back at the Octagon and gave me a strong sense of deja-vu. It was exactly twenty years since the "Bolton Massacre" and here I was doing a play about the civil war again in the same building. This was "Lass From The Man and Scythe." I wrote the songs and played a philosophical character called Dust who was like a time traveller, narrating and linking scenes together.


WEBSTERS BITTER - advert. I played in two of these ads, firstly as a bloke who had a ferret down his trousers, and in the other I played the voice of a police horse conversing with the two equine stars.


KILROY - This was a discussion about North versus South. Usual chat stuff where nothing ever gets resolved. Complete waste of time.

CORONATION STREET - The story was that Mavis had been feeding Derek nutmeg to spice up their love life. Turned out he pinched a lady's bottom in the supermarket (she was played by Jane Cox). I played the husband, Harry Shaw, who eventually threw Derek out of his house. Six years later, Jane and I are husband and wife again in Emmerdale (Lisa and Barry Clegg) Link to: Who's who in Coronation Street

WAITING FOR GODOT - In '91, again at the Octagon we did Andy Hay's production of this Samuel Becket classic. I played Estragon and Mike Harding played Vladimir, with Richard Hayes as Pozzo and John Lloyd-Fillingham as Lucky. Mike and I were nominated for the Northern Drama Awards after this. We didn't win, but it's flattering to be nominated.
This excerpt is a trailer for the production by BBC NW:


PACKING THEM IN - A C4 production shot before an invited audience at Wakefield Playhouse with Frank Skinner and Jenny Eclair (amongst others). I played a sketch in which I was covered in blood and gore, staggered in the pub, and uttered the line "Who left that sodding Jaguar in the car park".

ALADDIN BOLTON - Back again at the Octagon for Christmas '92 I played Abanazer in pantomime there. This version takes its name from wherever it's being performed, and is full of songs from the 1960's. All the actors were the musicians as well - great fun to perform, and just as well, for we did fifty two performances.


LAST OF THE SUMMER WINE - Played a gypsy called Duane whose wife (played by Kate Robbins) bought a load of patio furniture from ace salesperson Ma Wainwright (played by Jean Alexander). Duane was so annoyed that he took the lot back and went in Wainwright's shop saying "This is how to deal with salespeople." Next time we see them they've bought twice as much furniture and Duane is trying to convince his wife what a bargain it was.


CHILDREN'S WARD - This was the series before it changed its name to THE WARD. I played a heavy called Bernard?! who worked for a moneylender (played by Lesley Claire O'Neill) and drove a 7 litre Chevy convertible around - great fun!

EMMERDALE - I played a c&w singer called Hank Johnstone who sang in the bar of the Woolpack. His accent kept slipping from pseudo-American to broad Northern. After he'd introduced each song, the dialogue took over with music underneath. It was the episode where Zoe told her dad she was gay.

MANCHESTER SHIP CANAL - 100 YEARS - In '94 I wrote songs and performed them (with Wilf Darlington) for a Radio 2 Arts programme which celebrated the centenary of the Manchester Ship Canal. Produced by Pete Johnson who then went to be a presenter on Jazz FM. Here are a couple of items from it, which show both sides of the raging argument for and against. The "Lords Of The Loom" we found as a speech, and set it to a four part harmony. The "Venice Of The North", with Wilf on piano, imagines the prosperity that the canal will bring to the area.

"Lords Of The Loom”   "Venice Of The North”


GRIMM - This was one of a series of plays in the NEW VOICES series featuring new writers and new directors. This was directed by Noreen Kershaw (who then went on to do CORONATION STREET.) I played a bingo caller obsessed with death e.g. "Number ten.... Rillington Place"

ROAD -In '95 I had to rearrange my solo dates yet again when I played the part of Scullery in Jim Cartwright's "Road." This was at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester and was especially memorable because Jim directed it himself - the first time he had done so. Just in time too - the year after, the theatre was extensively damaged by the bomb blast.


SOUL MUSIC - This is a cartoon version of Terry Pratchett's book from the hugely successful DISCWORLD series. I played the voice of Asphalt, a squashed troll. It's a Cosgrove-Hall production and only available on video.

COOGAN'S RUN - Steve Coogan did a series of six where he played a different character each week. I was in the "Gareth Cheeseman" episode, playing Tony the hotel receptionist who chose to be hard of hearing when it suited him - which was most of the time when faced with individuals like Cheeseman. Tony also had a scam going with the hotel prostitute (played by Gaynor Faye) where he set her up with clients, she would rob them whilst they were asleep, and the two of them would split the profits. Filmed in Surrey during the hot June of '95, and produced by Geoff Posner.
All the episodes are still available from BBC Worldwide.

CORONATION STREET - One of Don Brennan's card-playing taxi driver friends was Stan Whaller, the part I played for one episode. Together they decided to fleece young Ashley at cards, but he ended up beating both of us!

BRASSED OFF - I played Chapman,the union official, in this cinema film. The scenes I was involved in were shot in October and November of '95 at the colliery near Hatfield Woodhouse, a few miles from Doncaster. Reading the complete script is one thing, but it wasn't until I saw the premiere at Leeds International Film Festival that I realised what a powerful production this is. It has humour, pathos, tragedy, and a strong integrity - I felt proud to have been involved in it. As a special treat at the premiere the Grimethorpe Colliery Band, who feature throughout the film, played a short concert in front of the screen.

EBC - This was a corporate video shot specifically for staff training. It involved playing around twelve different parts with corresponding costume changes. An actor's dream.

POLICE TRAINING VIDEO - This was shot in and around Harrogate, where the Police training unit is. It was to do with the change in the law regarding cautioning of suspects. I played a cafe owner helping police with their enquiries. Also memorable for me because when driving home the day after I hit a traffic island refuge and wrecked a wheel and tyre!


EMMERDALE - In December '96 I started recording the part of Barry Clegg, a rather odd inventor who lived in a barn on the Clegg's pig farm. He and Lisa had an agreement that despite their not wanting to be married anymore, it would be very convenient if he could stay at the farm and pursue his life's quest-building a manned rocket. One influential factor was that Barry's rocket ran on pig muck-a "pig poo powered projectile." The story's based on there actually being a reward of $6 million for the first home-made manned rocket to reach the ceiling of 72 miles. The trouble began when Lisa started dating Zak Dingle. He and Barry did not get on.
After the whole business ended with the farm and rocket blowing up (a rather spectacular scene which is included in the "25 years of" section at the end of the "Dingles Down Under" video) Barry returned in July to wreck Lisa's wedding to Albert Dingle. November. December and Jan' 98 saw Barry back, carol singing with Zak, and with a new invention: a treadle-powered microwave oven! This proved to be a dismal failure with the Dingle's Christmas dinner, but not to be outdone Barry altered the power source to an exercise bike with much more success.
When I finally got round to digitising the scenes I did, there turned out to be so many (from nearly 40 episodes) that I started a seperate link. See *EMMERDALE in the LINKS on the left.

THE LOWER DEPTHS - In summer of '97 I realized one of my ambitions - to take part in a drama production on Radio 4. This was Alan Plater's adaptation of Gorky's "Lower Depths" : a tragi- comic play about a group of people in a Russian doss house at the turn of the century. I was a character called Kletzch, and also played concertina - a tune for the theme, and as accompaniment to the song which all the characters sang. It was recorded in Cardiff and produced by Alison Hindell.

MY SON THE FANATIC - A film directed by Udayan Prasad of Hanif Kureishi's short story (screenplay also by Kureishi). I played a drunken bloke who picks up the starlet (Rachel Griffiths) in a bar (called "Manningham's"- a reference to the racist nature of the comedian performing there). Then he humps her in the back of a taxi. This section filmed in a car on a trailer driving around Halifax. The director remembered me from when he was an editor working on Alan Bennett's "Afternoon Off" and asked for me specifically to play the part. What a memory!

Sadly, the scene had been edited to remove the shot of Charlie against the the wall with clouds of steam rising as he widdled. This was achieved by using a condom full of warm tea. On the command "Action" the props man punctured the condom I was holding, and the result was a very realistic clouds of steam! Very clever props man.

KNIGHT SCHOOL - This is a children's series shot at Granada. I did a cameo role in one episode as a highwayman called Stan Dandeliver!

SNOW WHITE - More rearranging of gigs, for Christmas '97 saw me playing the part of Muddles, the original pillock, in "Snow White" at Southport Theatre. I sang Buggerlugs Loves Sugarbutty in duet with Snow White (played by Ann Nolan), and sketches with Sarah the Cook (Duggie Brown - my old mate from "Mersey Pirate)"


- A production of this startling play was done by Barrie Rutter's "Northern Broadsides" company over Easter. We rehearsed Monday and Tuesday, and the first performance was Wednesday! The first four were at the Viaduct theatre in Halifax. For Easter Sunday and Monday we transferred to the Saltaire complex near Bradford. I played Cayphas the High Priest.

- I played a taxi driver in the first series of this ITV production, taking Adam (James Nesbitt) to the hospital. Directed by Declan Lowney (of Father Ted fame).
Here are the scenes stitched together:

- After three improvisational auditions for a particular part, I ended up playing a completely different one - that of an irate householder whose fish had been stolen. It was filmed three roads away from our house!
Here are the clips from it:

- I was billed as "Man in queue" for this, the first episode of Victoria Wood's very funny sitcom. I only uttered the one (immortal) line "Is there no gravy?" It was great fun. Here's the scene:

- It was a great pleasure to do this play in Coventry at the Belgrade Theatre during August and September. Written by Bob Eaton (the artistic director at the Belgrade) and Sayan Kent, it's the story of George and Grace Burke (played by myself and Eithne Browne) and how they inherit a farm on the Derbyshire hillside. They're huge country and western fans (in fact George tried to make it big in Nashville twenty years previously but only lasted two weeks) and he thinks he's got his own Ponderosa. As the plot develops it looks like they'll lose it all, resulting in some great argument scenes. Coupled with some excellent songs and musicians, and local linedancers for good measure, it was a delight to perform.

- I did the tour with the lads in 1988 & 1989, and it's a pleasure to be asked to do the 1998 one. It encompasses twenty one dates throughout December from Rhyl to Ulverston and all stations in between.


CORONATION STREET - I played the part of the very odd Rev. Marvin Winstanley. Roy contacted the Rev with a view to conducting his wedding ceremony with Hayley. After showing him round the little meeting place and the upstairs chapel of the John Doe Reformed Resurrectionist Ministerial Church, Roy tells Hayley. She is not impressed because Marvin implied she would be the first trans-sexual he would have married.
Here's the visit, with an introductory scene from Roy & Gail:

NORWEGIAN LOTTERY ADVERT - In April I was asked to go to Norway to take part in a commercial for the Norwegian Lottery. This involved playing the part of a slightly camp hairdresser who goes into a dream whilst noticing the lottery results on the salon TV. The lady's hair he is cutting suffers as a result - she ends up looking like a trimmed poodle. It will be fascinating to see the finished version. Luckily, no-one speaks in the ad (it will be a voice-over) or I'd still be there. Lovely countryside around Oslo (but the beer is so dear!)

RADIO LANCASHIRE - I've been standing in for Jim Bowen on the morning show with Sally during the summer, and I've been doing a series of programmes about anecdotes for broadcast in September.

ERIC MORECAMBE PLAQUE CEREMONY - In July I had the great honour to be asked to unveil a plaque outside the house where Eric Morecambe grew up. This was the week before the Queen unveiled the bronze statue of Eric on the promenade there in Morecambe. The "Wrigley's Wrandom Jottings" programme on Radio Lancs began in August. Sixteen weeks of me rambling on about a particular topic and interspersed with my favourite records. Lots of the Beach Boys and Steely Dan were included - broadcast Sat at noon repeated Sun at 3pm.

HARBOUR LIGHTS - For ten days in September I did an episode of "Harbour Lights" for BBC TV where I play an unsavoury character called Martin Blade. He gets murdered, and I was pleased that the weather was still warmish when I had to spend an afternoon in the harbour, fully clothed, being washed up as a dead body. Great fun - beaten up as well.
It was shown in 2000 - here are some of the scenes:

OLDHAM TINKERS WORLD TOUR -In October, apart from my usual solo gigs, I did another world tour with the Oldham Tinkers, reaching far flung resorts like Wigan, Blackburn and Morecambe.

DINNERLADIES - In late October and throughout November, I recorded episodes 5 and 6 of Victoria Wood's "DinnerLadies," broadcast set for 23 and 25 December. Not only was it an absolute hoot to rehearse and record, but the scripts have added depths of drama and pathos. Very clever lady.
Here I am pleading for bacon, liver, underwear, and gasping for a cup of tea:

This is the scene where I sing and dance with the brilliant Sue Devaney:

XMAS TOUR WITH THE HOUGHTON WEAVERS - It's a Christmas of dressing up in women's clothes again, because I'm Fairy Snowdrop in the Christmas tour with the Houghton Weavers. It's a great blend of seasonal songs and silliness. Check their website

Click on MEMOIRS 2000 on for the last thrilling instalment!


Whereas I handle the singing side myself, all enquiries regarding the world of professional acting should be directed to Emma Ashcroft at:

Sharron Ashcroft Management  (click to see the website)

Tel 01422 883090