1 9 7 4 – 1 9 7 7 (UK)
46 x 45 minute episodes
“As regards the sign in the gents which says “Wet Paint”. This is not an instruction! “
“Furthermore, with regard to £300 missing from club funds . . . We will have a word with the Treasurer as soon as he gets back from Tenerife”
This raucous Granada comedy/variety show featured performers and audiences in a fictional northern working men’s club setting with Bernard Manning as the compere and Colin Crompton as the Chairman of the club committee, who kept order in the club with a fire bell.
Those who remember the series can still hear the bell and the gormless drawl of ‘Mr Chairman’: “we’ve had a meeting of the committee . . . The first prize in the raffle is a diving suit . . . oh no, it’s a divan suite”.
Bernard Manning’s tuxedo-clad compere and master of ceremonies had a fine line in insults. When introducing Ronnie Hilton (singer of No Other Love), Manning said: “If there’s ever a nuclear war, go to this man’s house because he hasn’t had a hit in years”.
Wheeltappers and Shunters got the mood absolutely right in an artificial setting. Granada provided an authentic reconstruction in their studios of a typical North country working men’s club.
The atmosphere was almost palpable, the illusion was perfect.
The cameras were well hidden, and the studio audience was lulled into forgetting they were on television by an absence of the procedures usual with television recordings.
The audience – usually made up of coach loads from local clubs around Lancashire – were all in the mood, as well they might be, with twelve acts per show and unlimited free beer on offer.
Each show had a big-name top-of-the-bill artist such as Matt Munro, Tessie O’Shea, The Bachelors, Julie Rogers, Terry Scott, Lonnie Donegan and Mrs Mills, with supporting acts ranging from vocalists to magicians, knife throwers to instrumentalists, contortionists to comedians, fire-eaters to “exotic dancers”.
One of the waitresses serving real beer to the studio audience was Liz Dawn – Our Vera from Coronation Street.
Bernard Manning passed away in June 2007.