As the Spa Pavilion readies itself to welcome back legendary entertainer Jimmy Tarbuck in his new show A LIFE IN SHOWBUSINESS’, theatre director Ray Anderson reflects on what makes Tarbie so special.
“I wouldn’t normally say that “I like being old”, but there is one very good reason why I’m saying that now. I’m old enough to remember the glory days of ITV’s weekend viewing when there was no Sky Television, Netflix, or Internet, no streaming, mobile phones or hand-held devices. We just had the good old BBC and ITV on our television sets. There was nothing else to watch, not even video tapes or DVDs.
I remember Lou Grade of ITV’s ATV channel (he later became Lord Grade) – he was instrumental in creating some of the most creative and advanced TV shows and series of their time! He once said “Let the BBC educate the public, and we (ITV), we’ll entertain them!” And entertain us, he certainly did.
How many kids growing up in the early 60s would not have enjoyed the likes of ‘Stingray’, ‘Thunderbirds’ and ‘Captain Scarlett’? All shows were skilfully crafted to capture the minds of a young audience at tea-time. Whilst the teenagers and young adults were feasting on ‘The Saint’, ‘Danger Man’, ‘The Avengers’ and ‘The Prisoner’ – All shows commissioned by Lou Grade’s ITC company and not only shown in the UK, but exported to TV audiences around the world. Sunday night was always a treat in our house.
My mother would always insist that I had a bath in the early evening, whether I needed it or not (I usually did need it!) … and we’d all sit together as a family, (me in my dressing gown), to watch shows like ’The Beverly Hillbillies’ or ‘I Love Lucy’ – comedy half hour shows that were imported from the USA. They were all great shows, and UK audiences grew to love the characters. But to me, the highlight of the Sunday nights’ viewing was ‘Sunday Night at the London Palladium’.
This was a great variety show with the top international talent each week, starting at 7:25pm, and compered by the likes of Bruce Forsyth, Norman Vaughan, Jimmy Tarbuck, and others over the years. To be able to sit down with your whole family, and watch a variety programme that offered something for everyone … that’s a pleasure that has gone from our lives now. Then again, to enjoy the likes of The Beatles, The Seachers or The Rolling Stones mixed with a comedian, puppeteer, juggler and opera singer is probably something that nobody would consider now! But there’s no denying it brought the whole family together.
They were great days. Although we only had the two TV channels, to me, less turned out to be more, as all the creative talent was only spread out on either the BBC or ITV. By contrast, today’s entertainment is spread over hundreds of channels, and you almost don’t know where to begin! When we purchased The Spa Pavilion in 2015, in the back of my mind, I have always had a desire to try and bring some of the magic from my childhood onto our stage.
Sadly, most of my heroes have passed away, but I did manage to meet many during my career in TV and Radio and, of course, I treasure those moments. But during my research into the fabulous Spa history (which goes back to 1937, with the existing building), I realised that there is one person who has stood the test of time, and who is still with us and performs occasionally. Also, this person was in ’Summer Season’ at The Spa in 1983.
He was also one of the comperes of ’Sunday Night At The London Palladium’, which I sat and watched with my parents, in my dressing gown! That’s right – that person is Jimmy Tarbuck, and I was so pleased when he agreed to come back to The Spa, 39 years after he was in our ‘Summer Season’ show, fondly remembered by many Felixstowe residents.
So we look forward to welcoming Jimmy onto our stage on Saturday 11th June, 2022 at 7:30pm. Unfortunately ’Summer Seasons’ in the UK’s seaside theatres are long gone. They simply don’t work any more, and don’t attract the audiences. Over the previous decades, however, they were the backbone of summer entertainment for families in all the popular seaside towns like Great Yarmouth, Blackpool, Clacton-on-Sea, Bournemouth and so on. Interestingly, when Jimmy Tarbuck was at The Spa in 1983, artists like Val Doonican, Cilla Black, Les Dawson, Ken Dodd and Harry Secombe also appeared, that same year. Those were the days! As you can imagine, I’ll certainly be in the audience for Jimmy Tarbuck in June – but not in my dressing gown! Thanks to all our loyal customers who support us. Keep it live and support our stars, musicians and performers!
Ray Anderson – Director, The Spa Pavilion, Felixstowe, Suffolk.
Picture of Ray Anderson credit: Stephen Foster/Archant
JIMMY TARBUCK: ‘A LIFE IN SHOWBUSINESS’ Celebrating 60 years of comedy magic with a very special, celebratory concert. After more than sixty years at the very top of his profession, Jimmy Tarbuck relives many of the most iconic moments of a life on stage and screen.
Featuring memorable footage highlighting a fabulously glittering career, from going to school with John Lennon to playing golf with Bing Crosby. A story that retells the incredible journey of a true national treasure. Always at his best in front of a live audience, ‘A Life in Showbusiness’ will truly be an evening to remember.
Saturday 11th June 2022 – 7.30pm Tickets: £29.50 Venue The Spa Pavilion Undercliff Road West Felixstowe Suffolk IP11 2DX