James Robinson ‘Jimmy’ Clitheroe died on 6 June 1973 (the day of his mother’s funeral). A coronial inquest found that his death was due to an accidental overdose of sleeping pills. He was 51 – but still looked 11.
Clitheroe was born on Christmas Eve 1921 on Wilkin Street, Clitheroe, in Lancashire. A glandular problem at the age of 12 ensured that Jimmy never grew taller than 4′ 3″ and never weighed more than about five stone.
He began in the entertainment industry via the old variety circuit, where he built an impressive reputation as “Little Jimmie”, particularly in Blackpool, where between 1944 and 1971 he set a record for the number of appearances in Summer Season shows.
He always appeared in a schoolboy cap and blazer and almost always played a schoolboy.
In the mid-1950s, Jimmy moved into radio and soon had his own series, Call Boy. But his biggest hit was The Clitheroe Kid which ran for 15 years, from 1957 to 1972, and became the BBCs longest-running situation comedy.
Most episodes revolved around Jimmy’s interactions with his sister Susan, her daft boyfriend Alfie Hall, and his arch-enemy, Mt Higginbottom.
His most famous catchphrase was “Don’t some mothers ‘ave ’em”, although he was often heard to exclaim “Ooh, flippin’ ‘eck” whenever he found himself in a scrape (ie: weekly).