John Binnie chaYs the
comedy highs of national institution Dora Bryan.
I Making her stage debut aged 12 in a Manchester pantomime for which she was paid 13p a week.
I lntroduerng the anthem 'Dramonds are a Grrl's Best Frrend' at London's Strand theatre rn Anrta loos' musrcal Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
I Winning the 1961 BAFTA best actress award in Tony Richardson’s touching movie of Shelagh Delaney’s A Taste of Honey. ‘I didn’t realise what a ground-breaking film it was, with its interracial love story and sympathetic gay best friend.’
I Starrrng rn the mega mUSrcal Hello Dolly at the lheatre Royal. Drury Lane for two years before takrng rt on national tour. 'I came back to the same role 25) years later. The book's wrrter Mrchael Stewart gave me a ten slirrlrng note on ope-rung night and the brggest basket of flowers for sayrng hrs lrnes Just as he wrote them.’
I Being a dubious headmistress in 1966’s The Great St Trinian’s Train Robbery.
I llrgh krekrng rn Kander and Ebb‘s OAP muszcal /'(). Orr/s, /'(). 'I can strll krek above my herght. I don't know how. I never exer(:rse. | Just walk my dog every mornrng along the seafront rn Brrghton.’
I Stealing scenes with her inimitable voice and quirky mannerisms in TV classics like Absolutely Fabulous and Last of the Summer Wine.
I Starrrng rh her one-woman show I lello [)ora. 'I've been dOrng rt oil and on for about ten years. When I do rt. I thoroughly (ENJOY myself. but I feel nervous beforehand. The show rs a trawl through my irfe. the funny thrngs that have happeoed to me. full of showbr/ gossrp and the songs I've been assoerated wrth. l'n‘. exerted about playing Glasgow agarn. I played rr‘. panto at the old Alhambra as a chrld.‘
I Dora Bryan rs a! the Crtr/ens llreatre. Glasgow, Wed l / Mar;
Spirit of Madchester: Frank Sidebottom, the elusive man from Timperley
Mark Fisher tries to track down the mercurial Mancunian.
ow listen up. you young tykes. Let this be a lesson to you. Dressing tip in strange costumes didn‘t start with the Flaming Lips. you know. Oh no. In that mysterious netherworld that's half comedy. half pop music. they‘ve been at it for years.
Wind back to the late 70s. for example. and we find. emerging from the creative primordial ooze that was 'l‘imperley. near Altrincham in Cheshire. one Frank Sidebottom. a man known above all else for his enormous papier-mache head. His antecedents are uncertain: all that is known is that Sidebottom arrived fully formed with his nasal Mancunian whine. his hair side—parted and slicked flat. his lips large and feminine and his doll—like eyes perfectly round. With him came his miniature look—alike companion. Little l‘rank. And together they deconstructed the music business with an output that was as prolific as it was low-f1.
For in another life. Frank Sidebottom was (‘hris Sievey. the leading light of the l‘reshies. the post- ptrnk Manchester band best remembered for the single ‘l'm in Love with the (iirl on the Manchester Virgin Megastore (‘heckout Desk‘ — a song recorded in 75 minutes at a cost of £75. [I went on to sell 4().()()() copies (though many an indie fan still carries a torch for the follow-up single. ‘I (‘an‘t (iet
Bouncing Babies by the 'l‘eardrop lixplodes' ).
A master publicist. Sievey created Sidebottom as the lireshies‘ number one fan. the irony being that the fan became more famous than the hand. For a spell. he was a character in the W: wannabe comic ()ink.’ and. in l992. he got his own show on Yorkshire Television. I’mnk .S'I'rlv/mr‘lom's I'imraslir‘ Slim] .S'lrorr'. which is where Caroline Aheme’s Mrs Merton made her 'l‘V debut as his next-door neighbour.
What did he do to deserve such fame and adulation'.’ Well. primarily rehashed versions of well—known songs that inserted the words "l‘imperley‘ and ‘l‘rank' at every opportune moment. Try these for size: 'Anarchy in 'l‘imperley'. "l’imperley Sunset'. ‘Mull of 'l‘imperley’ and ‘l‘rank (‘rordon‘ -- part of an extensive Queen repertoire that included 'liverybody Loves Queen’ and ‘I Am the Champion”.
Little has been heard of Sidebottom since the mid-90s —- and he wasn‘t answering the phone when we called him — so his appearance in Glasgow to reminisce about the good old days in a show called Happy :‘Wrmdrrvs. Harlem/u. lru Ira liu will be a rare treat indeed.
I Frank Srdeboltonr rs at the Vault, Glasgow. Sun 2/ Mar
‘8 Ma' ROS-1 THE LIST 25