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Barry Cryer

Barry Cryer was born in Leeds. Educated at Leeds Grammar School and Leeds University, he is B. A. Eng. Lit. (Failed).  Of the latter, this was due to the outbreak of World War II, he says, which was sixteen years before, but upset him very deeply.  While appearing in a University revue, he was offered a week’s work at the famous City Varieties Theatre, home of the Good Old Days, the longest running television light entertainment show in the World.  In later years, he was to appear on the show many times.  While appearing there, he was seen by a London agent and offered work in variety.

He appeared all over the Country in what were known as the “Number Three’s” and then auditioned for the Windmill Theatre in London, a legendary school for comedians, whose graduates included Harry Secombe, Peter Sellers, Jimmy Edwards, Alfred Marks and many more.  He passed the audition and started work at the theatre an hour and a half later.  Top of the bill was Bruce Forsyth, who became a friend and colleague to this day.

After seven months of six shows a day, six days a week, he left to appear in “Expresso Bongo”, a musical savaging the pop music scene of the day, starring Paul Schofield, Millicent Martin and Susan Hampshire.  It was during this period he started making records and had the rare distinction of being Number One in Finland.  He believes that this may have had something to do with the fact that they gave away a car with each record.  After this, he commenced writing for revues at the Fortune Theatre, home of “Beyond the Fringe”.  This led to writing and appearing in nightclub shows for Danny La Rue, an association that was to last for thirteen years.

While still working with Danny, he met David Frost who invited him to join the writing roster on the BBC programme, “The Frost Report” – an amazing group of writers who included what was to become the whole of Monty Python, Marty Feldman, David Nobbs, (Author of Reginald Perrin series and a future writing partner) and many more.  One show – “Frost Over England” won the Golden Rose at that year’s Montreux Festival.  Barry has also been associated with Silver and Bronze award winning shows at the Festival.

He moved with Frost to ITV and wrote and appeared in the “Frost Programme”, “Frost on Sunday” etc etc, until he returned to the BBC as one of the original “Two Ronnies” writers.  His association with Ronnie Corbett had begun in the Danny La Rue shows and still continues.  Also around this time, he had become one of the Chairmen at the famous Players’ Theatre Old Tyme Music Hall at Charing Cross, where he still appears in their Annual Charity shows.  In 1984 he appeared as the Dame in Sleeping Beauty at the Shaw Theatre and in 1988 he appeared as the King in Jack and the Beanstalk in Leicester.

Following his Frost years, he went on to write for practically every top comedian in the Country, including Morecambe and Wise, Bruce Forsyth (on the number one ratings show, “The Generation Game”), Tommy Cooper, Stanley Baxter, Dick Emery, Dave Allen, Frankie Howerd, Les Dawson (with David Nobbs), the Carry On team on television, Ronnie Barker, Mike Yarwood, Billy Connolly and many more.  Also during a long association with ATV, he wrote for Bob Hope, Jack Benny, Phil Silvers, Phyllis Diller, Richard Pryor and other visiting stars.  He also wrote shows for singers such as Tom Jones and Petula Clark (a Silver Rose winner) and advised and wrote a musical show for Dennis Waterman of “The Sweeney” and “Minder”.  A Harry Secombe show which he co-wrote with Spike Mullins and Peter Vincent (both writing partners for many shows) won the Pye Light Entertainment awards of its year.  For eight years, he wrote (with Ray Cameron) the Kenny Everett shows for ITV and BBC, which to date have won several awards, including BAFTA, the Royal Society, The Press Guild and two special mentions at Montreux.  The Everett connection has yielded nine series, Christmas and New Year shows, two independently made videos and a feature film.  The same team produced “Assaulted Nuts” – a series for HBC cable TV in America and on Channel 4.

As a performer, he moved into TV and radio from the theatre and nightclubs and has appeared in practically every panel game on British TV, including “Blankety Blank”, “Punch Lines”, “Give us a Clue” (and on radio) “I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue”, “Just a Minute” etc etc.  For five years he was the Chairman of “Jokers Wild” on ITV.  He wrote and appeared in “Hello Cheeky” with Tim Brooke-Taylor and John Junkin on both radio and television.  He wrote and appeared in “What’s On Next” and “The Steam Video Company” for Thames TV and also appeared in “All Star Secrets” for LWT and “I’ve Got a Secret” for BBC.  He Hosted a series of “Cross-Wits” for Tyne Tees Television and was the Host for the BBC’s “Music Match”.

He has become on of the Country’s most popular after dinner speakers much in demand to pay tribute to such stars as Gene Kelly, Tommy Steele, Frankie Howerd and Harry Secombe.  He appeared regularly on Granada TV’s “Milord Ladies and Gentlemen”, a programme which featured the Country’s leading after dinner speakers.  He has addressed and entertained British Leyland in London and Vienna, British Caledonian, the Coal Board, Dalgety, Avon Cosmetics, British Telecom, Smiths Foods, the Timber Trade Federation, ITV Advertisers, the Institute of Bankers (three times), Fiat (three night conference), Websters Brewery (three night conference), EMI, Microdata and many more.  He has presided over the Sony Video Awards and speaks regularly at the Cambridge Union.  He has spoken before the Prince and Princess of Wales at both Guildhall and the Mansion House, entertained Princess Anne in music hall and shared speaking duties with the Duke of Edinburgh at the Savoy Hotel.  He has spoken many times at Wembley Stadium at Cup Finals and International celebrations and for the Lords Taverners and the Variety Club regularly addresses large audiences in London and the provinces.

In 1990 Barry teamed up with old friend Willie Rushton in their own show “Two Old Farts in the Night” which they performed to full houses at the Edinburgh Festival (1992 and 1993), the Brighton Comedy Festival (1992) and at various corporate events around the country including the Barbican Centre (to two thousand employees of the architects Ove Arup), The Albert Hall (for The Institute of Directors) and The Festival Hall (entertaining the might of the Metropolitan Police Force). In 1994, Barry and Willie toured with the show playing at over 50 theatres around the UK. The summer of 1994 saw Barry and Willie returning to the Edinburgh festival with the new show “Farts 2 – The Musical”.

In 1993 Barry started touring his one man show around the UK and the show continues to delight audiences under the new 1998 title “The First Farewell Tour”. This show led to a guest appearance on Vive Cabaret, the stand up comedy show transmitted on Channel 4. 1993 also saw Barry playing Louis Blore/ King of France in the Cole Porter Musical Du Barry Was a Lady at the Barbican.

At the beginning of 1994 Barry hosted 8 shows of Cryers Crackers – a panel game for Yorkshire Television. This was re-commissioned and the second series was transmitted in 1994 and a third in 1995.

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