The first meeting of 2017 and the start of the second half of our Ruby Season was opened under the auspices of Chairman Peter Staples who welcomed back members and wished all a healthy and prosperous New Year. Four apologies had been offered prior to the meeting and a “welcome back” was made to Peter Weatherill who had been absent for a spell following an operation.
John Taylor Programme Secretary thanked members for his Honorary Life Membership awarded at the Christmas Lunch and he made it clear it was something he much appreciated. He added thanks to Malcolm Wood for arranging flowers for his wife Margaret.
A letter had been received from Yorkshire Air Ambulance acknowledging and thanking The Forum for our Christmas Lunch Charitable Donation of £135.
Today’s Speaker was the Forum’s own Frank Ellis, a long-standing member, whose topic was “The Knut From Knotty Ash”. It seemed an appropriate choice of subject to start the New Year given the announcement of Ken Dodd’s knighthood in the New Year’s Honours List and a recent two-hour Channel Five documentary on January 2nd 2017. Frank shared with us some of Dodd’s life details having been born in Knotty Ash in November 1927 and even though in his 90th year still scheduled for 3/4 live appearances each month up to August this year!! His performing career started at the age of eight when given a Punch & Judy outfit; two years later he took up ventriloquism and developed his singing voice as a choir boy. His professional debut was at the Empire Theatre Nottingham in 1954 and four mid fifties seasons followed at Blackpool with him reaching top of the bill at the Central Pier in 1958. In the 1960’s/70’s he had seasons at Blackpool Opera House, two record-breaking seasons at the London Palladium and two show stopping Royal Variety performances. In tandem he also had a successful recording career with some chart topping singles.
The Dodd style of humour was discussed from its speed, surrealism/nonsense standpoint with the performer alternating between clown and stand up comedian but always conscious of and developing his relationship with the audience. Comment was made regarding his physical appearance and his trademark protruding teeth were the result of a bicycle accident as a youngster. Frank flavoured his talk with some of the material used by the artiste which gained audience approval!! A number of recollections and comments were shared by audience members at the conclusion of the talk.
Malcolm Wood gave the Vote Of Thanks on behalf of the 38 attendees.
NEIL RAMSHAW SECRETARY