Pantomime: Jack and The Beanstalk: St Albans Arena, St Albans, 2008

Comedy legends Tommy Cannon and Bobby Ball (real names Thomas Derbyshire and Robert Harper) starred in the Christmas pantomime Jack and The Beanstalk and the whole family saw them live on stage in St Albans in 2008. Most of the famous catchphrases and routines from their very successful Saturday night TV eighties TV series were adapted for the pantomime. Every time Bobby Ball twanged his comedy braces and yelled ‘Rock on Tommy!’, my one-year nephew, also called Tom kept bouncing up and down with excitement and the whole family enjoyed watching the comedy stars cause commotion.  Bobby Ball had a genuinely funny face and could get audience on his side at the drop of a hat while Tommy is the brilliant steadfast feeder for Bobby’s reactions to the comedy situation.

After the pantomime, we went to the pub next door to the theatre and waited for a lift home.  My Aunt sat down and as I walked in, the two stars were sitting at the bar so I went over to them and praised them.  I told them what a big fan I was.  They warmly shook my hand and Ball said, ‘Still in work Cocker!’ before giving me a wink and one of his cheeky grins which made my day.  It was a photo opportunity so missed but an unforgettable memory.

Like many, I was so sorry to hear about Ball’s passing from coronavirus related symptoms in October 2020.  Reliable and unforgettable comic entertainers for all the family, Cannon and Ball had been a successful double act for over fifty years.   They are remembered fondly and will be greatly missed.

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