Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Ken Dodd

I was saddened to hear of the death of Ken Dodd, who contributed an introduction to Funny Bones and can be seen, above, with Freddie in a photograph taken for the book at one of his Good Turns charity functions in his beloved (the attraction was mutual) Liverpool.

In the chapter entitled Surviving in the Clubs Freddie talks of the inspiration which Ken's act provided when the younger comedian was still trying to find his way:
I looked up to people like Ken Dodd, as most young comics did: Ken was always very kind and helpful with young comics. I used to go backstage to see him and he always welcomed me: ‘Young man,’ he called me. At one time I could even feel myself working in his flowpath, but I thought: ‘Well, you can’t do better than emulate the master.’ Ken is very much a theatre comic. He started in clubs but really is a theatre man: larger, more fantastical, with a presence you can feel way up in the gods.
I myself was fortunate enough to experience his generosity after a performance at the Liverpool Phil when Ken chatted with me for about forty five minutes. Mention of a particular comedy book made him spin a mental rolodex: after a second or two before he delivered a definitive pronouncement about the writer - though when I made a passing reference to a well-known story about Laurel and Hardy's arrival in Ireland he was gracious enough to react as though he had never heard the tale before. When I left by the stage door at around half past one, despite the five and half  hours they'd already spent in his company a long line of the faithful were still there, patiently awaiting one final glimpse of him.

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Freddie returning to Leeds City Varieties in March

For those within reach of Leeds, Freddie Davies will be returning to the City Varieties to take part in The Good Old Days shows on 9th March (Friday evening) and 10th March (Saturday matinee) 2018. 

This time Freddie will be assuming the role of chairman as his pal Bernie Clifton is topping the bill; Jan Hunt, who worked with Bernie on Crackerjack, is also appearing. 

The City Varieties is a place redolent with memories for Freddie, who has played there over the years; his grandad, Jack Herbert, a comedian who once had Sid Field as his straight man, also appeared there. If you haven't been there before, even from the back of the stalls it feels extraordinarily intimate: ideal for comedy as well as song. 

You can book via the theatre's website here.

Funny Bones: My Life in Comedy by Freddie Davies with Anthony Teague is available from amazon (paperback) or direct from Scratching Shed Publishing (paperback or limited edition hardback).

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Freddie at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry last Friday

"That's silly!" 

Such was the half-aggrieved, half-delighted protest from an elderly lady siting near me at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry during Freddie Davies's act on Friday. 

Unable to offer much in the way of a counterargument, I sat back to enjoy the howls and squeals of suprise around me as jokes and quips hit their targets, and I was reminded that Freddie's performance alternates apparent relaxation with sudden, unexpected twists of the knife - hence those high-pitched utterances. He was in full control, a master manipulator, and, as with his appearance at the City Varieties, Leeds, this felt like a theatre, and an audience, ideally suited to his brand of psittacine zaniness. 

Freddie and Anita Harris were topping a variety bill which included harmonica virtuoso David Conway of the Three Monarchs and comedian/impressionist Adam Daye, an unbilled bonus whose Kenneth Williams was not to be sniffed at. At the end Freddie and Anita did a spot together which included some hilarious improv around a bunch of flowers unexpectedly presented by an admirer - of Anita's, as Freddie seemed slow to grasp - in addition to their planned reminiscing. It made for a delightful end to an afternoon which really seemed to revive the spirit of variety.

As Freddie's Boswell I make no claim to be a disinterested observer of such matters but what I say is: long may such silliness continue. 

And in the interests of balance allow me to quote the parting words of a gentleman sitting near me in Row E. He had been a tenor in his day, playing the clubs, and recalled the warning of a concert chairman: "I hope you're better than that Freddie Davies - he died the death here last Saturday!"

You can read more about Freddie's ups and downs, in clubland and elsewhere, in his autobiography Funny Bones - an ideal Christmas present to yourself or a loved one (also suitable for other occasions). 

Funny Bones: My Life in Comedy by Freddie Davies with Anthony Teague is available from amazon (paperback) or direct from Scratching Shed Publishing (paperback or limited edition hardback). You can get a signed copy from Freddie here. Read an extract here.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

New portrait of Freddie by Andy Hollingworth

The photographer Andy Hollingworth, who specialises in portraits of comedians, had Freddie as his subject on Tuesday. The remarkable result can be seen above. 

Andy Hollingworth writes:
Our childhood comedy heroes sit deep in our consciousness.

For years I've been tracking down mine and trying my best to represent them with fondness, given them a gentle hug back for the joy that they showed me... the daftness, the playground belly laughs, spluttering Ben Shaws pop out your nose on a brown cord settee.

Today I met one of the last of these folk, a man that Ive been trying to photograph on and off for the best part of ten years. To sit in the Spring sunshine supping tea and munching on a ham sandwich listening to stories going back to Music Hall itself - was the most precious of treats.

Ladies and gentlemen, almost 80 years young, and the same smiling clown in a squashed Homburg hat he always was,

The gentlest of comedy giants ... Mr Freddie Davies.

Freddie is approaching his eightieth birthday but, as that photograph suggests, the essence of his comic persona is ageless. He once said in a radio interview that when they perform comedians magically revert to the age they were when they first did the material.

As cowriter of Freddie's autobiography, the aptly-named Funny Bones, I have seen Freddie in action many times and can testify to this truth of this - and if you want to see for yourself he is appearing on a variety bill at the Winter Gardens, Margate, on May 7th - details here.

Andy Hollingworth's site is here

Buy Freddie's autobiography Funny Bones here or here. John Fisher (producer of Channel Four's Heroes of Comedy series)  calls it "one of the most honest and illuminating books I have read about the practice of comedy ... a cornerstone of its genre."

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Audio of Freddie on 1968 Hughie Green show

I was delighted to learn that the audio for the programme Goodbye to Didsbury, broadcast on 30th July 1968 as ABC Television was preparing to merge with Rediffusion and become Thames Television, has been made available on the Transdiffusion website here.

Deprived of the visuals (the screengrab is actually from Hughie's final Opportunity Knocks in 1978) you have to use a certain amount of imagination, but Freddie's appearance certainly sounds anarchic, and the audience is in an uproar throughout. Freddie appears at around 23'10".

And it's wonderful to hear, if not see, that the memory which I have carried around for almost fifty years of a touching moment of sobriety and sincerity which followed the clowning as Freddie came out of character proves to have been correct. I think he and Hughie finally sat down and Freddie removed his hat, as though to signify he was no longer in Tweet mode, as he talked about the special atmosphere of the Didsbury studios - where he had rocketed to fame at the end of the very first series of Opportunity Knocks on 1st August 1964.

For those who haven't yet read it, I originally described that moment of Freddie coming out of character in a blog post here. I sent a link to Freddie, not realising that it was, in effect, a calling card: he needed someone to help him with his autobiography. The book was eventually published on the fiftieth anniversary of his first appearance on Opportunity Knocks. Click on the "About" page for more details.

Monday, 1 August 2016

It was 52 years ago today ...

To mark the fifty-second anniversary of Freddie's debut on Opportunity Knocks, here's an interview which begins with a short clip from that legendary 1964 performance. 

Freddie's appearance came at the end of an extraordinary week which had begun with the young comic at his lowest ebb, struggling through an audience participation show in Dunoon. An article in The Stage had claimed he was leading his own troupe, but in fact it was just Freddie and a pianist called Tom, dying twice daily (except Sunday) in an open air theatre near where the ferries docked. "It was called Fun With Freddie," he recalls. "And if a few lost souls – kids, dripping wet dogs and some well known local drunks – did happen along to see what all the noise was about, they would be confronted at the end of the show by council operatives from the bin department taking up a collection in tins."

So how did he get from this ignominy to stardom? The full story of the amazing week which turned Freddie's fortunes around, taking him from Dunoon to Didsbury, can be found in his autobiography Funny Bones. 

You can buy it from amazon (paperback) or direct from Scratching Shed Publishing (paperback or limited edition hardback).

Read an extract here.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Another letter in The Guardian ...

The corner of a recent Guardian masthead seemed to promise great things: a belated review of Freddie's autobiography? 

Turned out it was only a piece about a Ghostbusters star. But Freddie's name did crop up on the letters page a few days later:

The article which prompted the letter says that a study claims  comedy actors live on average 1.8 years longer than stand-ups. I'm not quite sure where that leaves Freddie, who has been both in his time as well as agent, producer and director etc. The lead writer admits that "the phenomenon is complex" but as it would cost a huge amount of money to access the study online (in the International Journal of Cardiology) I think I'll pass.

Many statistically improbable happy returns of the day for tomorrow, Fred.

Funny Bones: My Life in Comedy by Freddie Davies with Anthony Teague is available from Northern publishers Scratching Shed here or amazon here. And if you need further encouragement here is a genuine punter review - what need we the Guardian? 

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Article about Freddie's Masterclass in today's Blackpool Gazette

Here is an article about Freddie's forthcoming Masterclass in today's Blackpool Gazette; click on the image to enlarge or read the online version here. If you are a performer of any sort and can get to Blackpool it takes place on June 30th and booking and further information can be found on the Stage One Productions website here.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Next Freddie Davies Masterclass in Blackpool June 30th

After the success of the masterclass at the Hippodrome in Leicester Square Freddie has scheduled another at the Grand Theatre, Blackpool, on June 30th. You are advised to book quickly as there is already a lot of interest; seats are limited as it's in a studio space.

Attendees at the London event included Mat Ricardo, David Benson (read his comments here) and new comedian Matthew Truesmith, who described the evening as "inspirational".

You can find out more and book for Freddie's Blackpool masterclass here.

Freddie and Blackpool go back a long way. He was brought up in Salford, which had many theatres, but Blackpool also helped give him the taste for performing: as a teenager he would travel there for the day to see the shows, waiting outside the stage door for a glimpse of a star and the chance of an autograph.

Freddie started his career as a Butlins Redcoat in Skegness, becoming entertainment manager at the Butlins Metropole Hotel in Blackpool in the early sixties. "Blackpool was a great place to go if you wanted to have a look at most of the premier acts of the age," he says. "On a good day, there was nowhere nicer: a walk along the prom then a star-studded show in the evening." And when he left Butlins in 1963 to try his luck as a full time comic Blackpool was the obvious choice for a base: "There were about ten major summer shows there plus big nightclubs and pubs, all needing acts."

Samuel Tweet spluttered his first in a Manchester club, but the homburg hat which started it all was bought in a nearly new shop in South Shore for two and sixpence (12½p). "It was for an impersonation of Arthur Lowe, who was in Coronation Street at the time, but when someone shouted out for a joke about a budgie I put it on and the voice somehow just came out."

And thus began a career which still shows no signs of stopping. Freddie appeared in many summer shows in Blackpool over the years, and there is footage of his 1966 appearance at the ABC Theatre, introduced by Tony Hancock: "I was playing on the same stage I was working on every night," recalls Freddie, "so it was easy - a home crowd."

Freddie lived in Blackpool until the early seventies and returned to produce pantos there in the early eighties. The Disney film Funny Bones (French title: Les Droles de Blackpool) was shot there in 1994, featuring Freddie and George Carl as double act the Parker Brothers, along with Jerry Lewis and Lee Evans, so presenting his masterclass at the Grand Theatre is a bit of a homecoming.

More information and booking for Freddie's Blackpool masterclass here

More about Freddie's autobiography Funny Bones here.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Freddie Davies Masterclass in London on May 31st!

After his recent success in Manchester veteran comedian Freddie Davies is about to present his performing masterclass in London - at the Hippodrome, Leicester Square, on Tuesday May 31st. Full details are available at the Stage One Productions website here. (Scroll down to the bottom of the page for paypal buttons.)

The masterclass is not simply for comedians but all acts - magicians, singers, speciality acts of all kinds - who have to talk directly to an audience. It's a rare chance to learn the stagecraft required to present yourself effectively from a man who has been doing it all his life. 

The Masterclass in Manchester was oversubscribed so you are advised to book early. Magician Quentin Reynolds said of a talk Freddie gave at a magic convention in Liverpool: "I implemented one thing Freddie said that got me a standing ovation at The Magic Circle in London. And that was simply using one of the many techniques he taught and demonstrated."

Book for the London Freddie Davies Masterclass here.
You can buy Freddie's autobiography here.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Freddie at the City Varieties

As cowriter of Funny Bones I cannot pretend to be impartial, but for those who couldn't make it here are some notes on Freddie's performance, topping the bill, in The Good Old Days at the City Varieties, Leeds on Saturday the 10th of October. I was at the matinee.

I have now seen his "turn" (as opposed to his one man show or other presentations) several times but it was something extra special to observe him, as it were, under laboratory conditions, in a theatre expressly designed for music hall. He has played there many times over the years since his first appearance after the entree provided by Opportunity Knocks in 1964, and his grandfather also played there.

I had never been inside the theatre before, but even from the back of the stalls it felt extraordinarily intimate: ideal for comedy as well as song. Performers were miked up, which didn't seem necessary - although maybe that can be excused as a concession to the average age of the audience.

Afterwards Freddie said how much he felt at home on that stage, and I was reminded of a comment he made in a radio interview about a performer magically reverting to whatever age he was when he first did a routine. He exhuded a fearless relaxation onstage, reminding me of seeing Ken Dodd on his home ground at the Liverpool Phil a  couple of years ago.

But the relaxation was balanced by a kind of capering mischief, a sense that anything might happen, even mid-song. At one point his eyes darted this way and that as though anticipating, or reacting to, imagined slights. "You smell nice," he suddenly said, a propos of nothing, to someone in one of the boxes. "Have you been hiking?"

One of the things we touched on when working on Freddie's autobiography was that television, for him, was a means to an end. It ensured bigger theatre audiences but theatre was the thing; Ken Dodd would doubtless say the same. 

Partial or not, way of conclusion all I can say is that on Saturday the 10th of October I had the privilege of watching a performer of long experience doing what he does best, thoroughly at home in the best possible place, before an audience who knew his worth. 

Funny Bones: My Life in Comedy by Freddie Davies with Anthony Teague is available from amazon (paperback) or direct from Scratching Shed Publishing (paperback or limited edition hardback). Read an extract here.

Friday, 4 September 2015

"Fascinating and important": Judge delivers verdict on Funny Bones

After the presentation for the 2014 Theatre Book Prize one of the judges, Professor Viv Gardner, was very complimentary about Funny Bones, telling me that Freddie's autobiography was "important to our understanding of the whole period he worked in." She has now sent the following:

 This is one of those stories that just have to be told. It is unique – there has never been quite such a long and varied a career as Freddie Davies’s - but it is also the story of popular entertainment over the past 70 plus years: the hey day and decline of variety, clubs, cabarets and cruise entertainment, the rise of television comedy and subsequent changes in fashion, and the shifting relationship between popular and ‘high brow’ performance. Freddie Davies has played every type of theatre in the country, from working men’s clubs and Butlins to the Royal Shakespeare Company, television and film, though his earliest memories are of the halls and variety theatres of the forties where his grandparents worked. His autobiography is replete with names and places, many long since forgotten, details of acts – his own and others’ – and whole bills. It is also a ‘back-stage’ story. Davies has worked not just as a performer, but also as a producer, so the autobiography charts not just his own stage career but also the challenges of working with and supporting other artists – the ups and downs, the nuts and bolts of the entertainment business.  A researcher’s dream.  It is a fascinating and important story, not just a personal but also a social and performance history.

Viv Gardner
Professor Emerita, University of Manchester
Judge, Society for Theatre Research 2014-15

Funny Bones: My Life in Comedy by Freddie Davies with Anthony Teague is available from amazon (paperback) or direct from Scratching Shed Publishing (paperback or limited edition hardback). You can read an extract here.

More reviews:

John Fisher
Alwyn Turner 

Monday, 31 August 2015

Five minute clip from Radio Tees interview on iplayer

[Update: this clip is no longer available on iplayer but I will put it up on soundcloud shortly. The full interview is still available via the link below.]

This is a five minute clip from Bob Fischer's interview with Freddie on Radio Tees, available on iplayer for four more days. And if that whets your appetite for more you can hear the full interview here.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Freddie interviewed by Radio Tees

Freddie was interviewed live today by Bob Fischer of Radio Tees - it will be available on iplayer here at some point but in the meantime you can listen to an edited version (musical inserts shortened) below. 

In the event the scheduled hour ran over by about twenty minutes, thanks partly to questions people had texted in, but mostly because of Fischer's obvious enthusiasm for both Funny Bones the film and Funny Bones the book. 

Freddie's autobiography was, he said, "Not just the story of a fascinating life but one of the most detailed accounts of that club and variety scene of the 1960s that I've ever read ... A fabulous read - I can't recommend it highly enough." 

At the end, Bob told Freddie the interview had been "one of the most enjoyable things I've ever done on the radio," and there is certainly a lot of laughter in the studio. Even I, his battle-hardened Boswell, was not above the odd chuckle as I listened several hundred miles away. But why not try it for yourself?

Find links to other radio interviews, and articles and reviews, on the Press/Publicity page here. And many thanks to Bob Fischer for reminding me of something which has been both frustrating and gratifying about the book. Making people aware of its existence has been uphill work - but without exception those who have come across it have been highly enthusiastic.

Incidentally, another recent attempt at promotion yielded unexpected results. On 1st August, the 51st anniversary of Freddie's Opp Knocks appearance (and a year since the publication of Funny Bones), I tweeted a videocap which has been retweeted and favourited (forgive the jive jargon) umpteen times. 

Unfortunately the character limit meant I couldn't actually mention Funny Bones by name nor provide a link, which isn't exactly the best business practice; I tried to rectify that with later missives but that first tweet, more than any other, seems to have caught the twitterati's imagination. 

Who knows why, but feel free to retweet re Tweet if you too feel minded to thpread the word:

Oh, and let's not forget the obligatory hard sell: if the Radio Tees interview has made you eager to purchase a copy of Funny Bones for yourself so that you can read the full story of Freddie's grandad Jack Herbert and the ups and downs of Freddie's own career as comedian, producer and actor, the book is available from amazon (paperback) or direct from Scratching Shed Publishing (paperback or limited edition hardback).  I believe there is a single copy on display in Foyles in London, but I haven't checked.

Freddie will be doing his one man show, also called Funny Bones, at the Princess Theatre, Hunstanton in September - details in Live Show News here. You can buy a copy of the book there, but why wait? 

Read an extract from Funny Bones here.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

51st anniversary of Freddie on Opportunity Knocks

To mark the fifty first anniversary of Freddie's appearance on Opportunity Knocks, here's an interview which includes a short clip of his legendary 1964 appearance along with footage of Freddie clowning with Hughie Green from Hughie's final show.

Freddie was invited to appear on Opportunity Knocks after the show's producer, Peter Dulay, was impressed by his act at the Candlelight Club in Oldham on the evening of July 31st - another comedian was dropped and Opportunity Knocks was recorded and transmitted the following day.

The full story of the amazing week which turned Freddie's fortunes around, taking him from twice-daily death in Dunoon to Didsbury, can be found in his autobiography Funny Bones. 

You can buy it from amazon (paperback) or direct from Scratching Shed Publishing (paperback or limited edition hardback).

Read an extract here.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Breathing space

In Funny Bones I quoted an advertisement which Freddie's grandad Jack Herbert placed in The Stage. But I didn't provide the context. So here, first of all, is part of page 8 of The Stage for January 13th, 1927:

And here is a blow up of that all but empty rectangle in the middle - if you still can't read it, you're not darned close enough ...

Friday, 22 May 2015

Theatre Book Prize ceremony

To the Palladium today for the Society for Theatre Research's Theatre Book Prize presentation. Those in attendance included STR president Timothy West, and I found myself sitting behind Oliver Ford Davies and Fenella Fielding, which may give an idea of the diversity of the audience. 

Funny Bones got a mention in the introduction by chairman Howard Loxton, who described it as "a real up and down showbusiness story":

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Freddie at the Hippodrome, Eastbourne

For those who couldn't make it, Freddie was on fine form at the British Music Hall Society's Day By the Sea at the Hippodrome, Eastbourne yesterday. 

His spot centred around his comedian grandad Jack Herbert - in effect, the talk which illness had prevented Freddie giving at Wilton's as part of the BMHS 50th anniversary celebrations.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Theatre Book Prize presentation next Friday

As Freddie's cowriter I will be attending the award ceremony for this year's Theatre Book Prize on Friday week. Even though Funny Bones didn't make the shortlist the record of earlier presentations on the STR website suggests that the chairman and judges may mention some of the other books they enjoyed.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Spoiler alert: David Aaronovitch is NOT reviewing Funny Bones in The Times today

Pretty much what it says above. For a moment I thought that this piece by David Aaronovitch in today's Times might be a belated review of Funny Bones ...

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Freddie at British Music Society's Day By the Sea next Saturday (May 16th)

A reminder that Freddie will be appearing at the British Music Hall Society's Day By the Sea next Saturday, so if you are within reach of Eastbourne it will be a fantastic chance to meet him as he will be signing copies of Funny Bones after his spot. The day starts at 10.00 and he will be onstage at 12.15. Tickets (for the whole day) can now be purchased directly from the theatre, as detailed above.

Can't make it to Eastbourne or can't bear to wait till Saturday? You can buy Freddie's autobiography Funny Bones from amazon (paperback) or direct from Scratching Shed Publishing (paperback or limited edition hardback) right now ... Not sure? Read an extract here.

Update: There is a short report about Freddie's spot at Eastbourne here.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Second searing parrotless shortlist shock

Yesterday the Society for Theatre Research announced the five titles shortlisted for the 2014 Theatre Book Prize.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Polly Toynbee article about Freddie

Not, perhaps, the most obvious chronicler of his doings, but after meeting Freddie on a cruise in 1978 Polly Toynbee came to Hastings to write a piece for The Guardian about rehearsals for his summer show at the White Rock. Many thanks to Ms Toynbee for allowing me to reproduce this article, which originally appeared in The Guardian on July 3rd of that year. 

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

"Marvellous portrait of a working comedian": review by Alwyn Turner

Many thanks to Alwyn Turner for this amazon review of Funny Bones, posted today:
A Classic

With the exception of the really big stars (Tony Hancock, Spike Milligan, Peter Cook), British comedians of the pre-alternative era haven't been very well served by the publishing industry. The best that most can hope for is to have their memoirs written up by a showbiz hack from a local paper.

So congratulations to Freddie 'Parrot-Face' Davies for having enlisted the services of Anthony Teague to create this magnificent book. Beautifully written and endlessly enthusiastic about its subject, it's a marvellous portrait of a working comedian, complete with all the proper ingredients: the years of struggle, the overnight sensation, the slow decline, the career revivals.

Even if you've never thought of yourself as much of a fan, you're still going to love one of the few great biographies of British comedy. 

Read Alwyn's overview of older comedians' biographies - including Sid Field, once feed to Freddie's grandad - here

The amazon page for Funny Bones, with many other reviews, is here. Read an extract from the book here.

Parrotless shortlist shock

Sadly, Funny Bones did not make the Sheridan Morley Prize shortlist. You can read details about the books which did here. I have read John Lahr's biography of Tennessee Williams - a great achievement, even if it has next to no discussion about the Northern clubs of the 1950s.

I relayed the sad news to Freddie, who says he has only had great feedback from our readers: "I had one on Monday who said it was the best biog he had ever read and promised to pass it on to the other inmates in the home with glasses."

Friday, 13 February 2015

Date of Sheridan Morley Prize ceremony announced

For those of you who cannot bear the suspense much longer comes the happy news that the ceremony for the Sheridan Morley Prize for Theatre Biography is to be held on 19th March at the Garrick Club.

Monday, 26 January 2015

1968 Radio Times article

Recently for sale on ebay, here is the text of a 1968 Radio Times article by Brian Finch publicising Freddie's radio series The Golden Parrot Club. Click on above image to enlarge or read the full text below:

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Letter to the Oldie

Emboldened by the publication of my recent letter to The Times (writes Freddie's cowriter Anthony Teague) I have seized another opportunity to spread the word about Freddie's autobiography.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Freddie at Foyles!

According to the Foyles website, Funny Bones is now in stock at their new flagship store at 107 Charing Cross Road (above), just to the side of the old one. Can the offer of a Literary Lunch be far behind?

Monday, 29 December 2014

Freddie trounces Richard Osman

Freddie took on quiz maestro Richard Osman on Martin Kelner's Last Lost Late Show on BBC Radio Leeds on 28th December and - SPOILER ALERT - roundly trounced him.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Freddie on BBC Radio Leeds, December 28th

Great news! Martin Kelner has just announced on his BBC Radio Leeds show that Freddie is to be one of the guests on his seasonal Last Lost Late Show, to be broadcast on Radio Leeds on December 28th between 10pm and 1am.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Monday, 24 November 2014

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Freddie at the Memorial Theatre, Broadstairs

For those who weren't lucky enough to be there in person, Freddie was in great form at the Memorial Theatre in Broadstairs last night. As cowriter of his autobiography Funny Bones I can hardly write an unbiased review, but seeing as how Michael Billington was inexplicably absent from the proceedings here are a few notes about the show - which was, as they say, a game of two halves.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

The blog post which started it all*

For any Freddie fans who haven't come across it yet, here is the piece I wrote in June 2011 for my personal blog which led to my working with the great man on his autobiography.

In Praise of Freddie "Parrotface" Davies or We'll Always Have Didsbury

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Ex Nihilo or ex-Parrotface? a note on the tangled origins of Monty Python's Parrot sketch

The origins of Monty Python's Parrot Sketch have been well documented, most recently in John Cleese's sober but enjoyable autobiography So Anyway ..., but as cowriter of Freddie "Parrotface" Davies's autobiography Funny Bones permit me to add a footnote.

The essence of the joke has been traced back to Ancient Greece, according  an article in the Telegraph, although I'm not entirely sure I'd go along with that:

Monday, 17 November 2014

Comedian Plugs Comedian Shock

Belated thanks to Roy Hudd for this cheeky mention of Funny Bones in his column for the August 5th edition of Yours Magazine:

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Unsolicited testimonial

Freddie has passed on this message sent to his website:

I have just finished your book and I loved it. I bought from Amazon even though I am a manager with WH Smith and I can't believe how much I enjoyed it. Loved the "I miss them" comments and I had a tear in my eyes many times. Thank you because above all I was smiling at your wonderful anecdotes and I bet there's another book in you which I would buy. Brilliant.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Freddie interviewed by Martin Kelner

Freddie was interviewed by Martin Kelner for his One on One interview programme on Radio Leeds in November 2013. Note that his autobiography still had the working title Off My Perch:

Monday, 3 November 2014

Review of Funny Bones by Stuart Pedlar

Many thanks to Musical Director Stuart Pedlar for this review.

Funny Bones is not just, as it title suggests, an entertaining and amusing autobiography, but an informative one as well. What makes it so readable is the well balanced mixture of personal narrative with background information relating to the best of English comedy during the sixties and seventies both in theatre and television. Anecdotes there are aplenty, but these never swamp the general sweep of the book, which recalls with fond nostalgia a different age from the one we now live in, yet nonetheless one still relevant to those of us interested in the likes of Davies, let alone the myriad of other fine entertainers of the time such as Morecambe and Wise et al.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Why The Lady is thick up to here

Louis Barfe (author of Turned Out Nice Again and The Trials and Triumphs of Les Dawson) hails Funny Bones as "a smashing book" in his Radio Review column in The Lady.

Book signing at Kirkham this Saturday! (18th October)

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Praise for Funny Bones from John FIsher

John Fisher, author of Funny Way to Be a Hero, biographies of Tommy Cooper and Tony Hancock and the man behind the exemplary Heroes of Comedy series, has this to say about Funny Bones:

I can’t get over how good Funny Bones is. Freddie Davies’ autobiography, co-written with Anthony Teague, is unquestionably one of the most honest and illuminating books I have read about the practice of comedy, never losing sight of the pressures and insecurities of a job that is prone to more ups and downs than a roller coaster. Along the way it provides fresh insights into other comedy greats, not least Sid Field, Sir Norman Wisdom, Frankie Howerd, Jerry Lewis, George Carl, Charlie Drake and Davies’ ostensible grandfather, the underrated revue comic Jack Herbert, who was a major influence on Field. It also vividly evokes the hollow shabbiness of so much of the late twentieth century British show business scene in that period betwixt the Beatles and Blur. In every way, a cornerstone of its genre. 

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Weekly News article by Craig Campbell

Many thanks to Craig Campbell for writing this centre spread for the Weekly News in July 2014. Craig told me, "I loved Freddie as a nipper."

FORGET your Chaplins, Marx Bros and Monty Pythons — for many of us, Freddie Parrot Face Davies is the funniest man we’ve ever seen!

For several decades, Brixton-born Freddie became synonymous with birdies, conjuring up a feather-filled act that tickled adults and had the young ’uns screaming with laughter.

He played a character called Samuel Tweet, and some of his best jokes involved budgies, with many claiming his parrot jokes were behind the famous Python sketch.

Now, Freddie has written a book about his extraordinary life — he is still performing up and down Britain at 77 – and his many wonderful tales show just how massive he was in his heyday.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Why “Parrotface” is back to Tweet again: full page article in The Stage

For those who missed the September 18th edition of The Stage, here is the article on Freddie Davies in its feature The Archive. Click on the image above to see it as laid out in the paper or read the text below.
 Why “Parrotface” is back to Tweet again

Freddie Davies’ appearance on Opportunity Knock changed the comedian’s life. As a new autobiography charts his career, he tells Anthony Teague of the influence of his music-hall-star grandfather and how necessity is the mother of reinvention

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