The Krankies

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Joined: 25 Apr 2006

PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2008 11:43 am    Post subject: The Krankies Reply with quote

Krankies sell-out shows prove variety's not dead
By Beth Neil In Skegness

EXCLUSIVE A sell-out proves there's life in the old school yet. Back in their variety heydays they would pull in TV audiences of millions. But times have changed - variety is, apparently, dead. Well no one's bothered to tell Skegness. Tonight, amid the candy floss, arcade games and saucy postcards, a gaggle of our most popular old-school entertainers are taking to the stage at the seaside town's Embassy Theatre in front of a sell-out crowd.

Paul Daniels, Cannon and Ball, The (fandabidozi) Krankies, Frank Carson, Jimmy Cricket and the Brotherhood of Man are all on the same bill. And in 2008 but The Best of British Variety Tour is selling like variety never went out of fashion.

"There's no variety on TV these days," bemoans Bobby Ball. "This show proves that people want it back. The first six venues have sold out. People aren't only interested in cooking or property shows."

The Mirror has been granted exclusive access all areas as the 20-date BoB tour kicks off and backstage pre-gig the atmosphere is gag-tastically exhausting. The hair might be thinner and greyer, the paunches broader, the faces wrinklier but the enthusiasm, hyperactivity and egos are still thriving. And the laughter comes thick and fast.

"I've been told to do about 25 minutes," Jimmy Cricket says to Paul Daniels. "Twenty-five minutes?" replies Paul, incredulous. "I used to bow for 20." "I haven't spoken to my wife for 20 years," says Tommy Cannon. Wait for it, wait for it... "She's never let me get a word in."

Boom boom. Old as the hills, granted. But the way they tell 'em is as fresh as ever. Interviewing Tommy Cannon, now 70 and looking good on it, 64-year-old Bobby Ball and Frank Carson, 82, is virtually impossible. Each tries to out-gag the other - it's best to sit back and let them get on with it.

The three of them are bunking in the one dressing room together. Jimmy, 62, and Paul, 70, are also doubling up. The sofas are ripped and worn and there's a kettle in the corridor. Forget glitz and glamour. There's no airs and graces and backstage riders in Skegness. They all drive themselves from gig to gig and lug their kits about with no help from minions.

"I used to get driven but got through four drivers in a year," Paul explains. "They kept falling asleep at the wheel and I'd drive THEM home. You've got to have a special sort of stamina to keep up in this business."

"We played Skegness in 1971," says Janette, wistfully. "I don't know how we're still going. I'm too old for this now." Janette in particular is suffering from first-night nerves: "I'm sh***ing myself!" She needn't worry. The Krankies - both 61 - go down a storm. Perfect timing, a willingness to laugh at themselves (joking about her spell in hospital following an on-stage accident during panto last year, Janette says the doctor approached Ian to say: "Mr Krankie, your little boy's willy has fallen off. And I think he's going through the menopause...") and genuine warmth.

"Too many comics these days are aggressive," says Ian over a glass of red after the gig. "If you have warmth then the audience respond. That's why we're still here. We know the old days of the individual shows are gone. But put us together and people want to come along. Panto is our mainstay. We're in the lucky position to be able to pick the nice stuff."

That doesn't include the holiday camps though. "There's no discipline these days," says Ian. "Kids can't sit and watch - there are too many distractions. I once asked a staff member if he could turn off an arcade machine that was making noise through our act. He said switching it off would cost them £100 an hour. What can you do?"

Paul Daniels' one man band, however, still gets bums on seats - Debbie McGee or no Debbie McGee. He seems almost affronted at the mention of his wife/assistant's name. "I worked as a pro for 20 years before Debbie," he says. "It's always been MY act. She sometimes does a little walk on and she gets bigger applause than I do! She's sunning herself in the Med at the minute. And I'm in Skegness!"

Jimmy Cricket, a true gent and dressed in the same wellies and hat and reading out his letters from mammy, is having a ball. "There's a buzz when we're all together," he says. "It's good clean fun. I know because I just had a shower." During the interval he's out front of house, meeting and greeting the fans, signing programmes and flogging his CDs. Eurovision Song Contest winners (1976) Brotherhood of Man - Nicky Stevens, Sandra Stevens, Martin Lee and Lee Sheriden - reckon tonight's crowd proves there's still an appetite for variety.

"Strictly Come Dancing has shown people want to watch family-friendly shows," says Sandra. "And we're selling out this one no problem. They love entertainment shows in Europe but we don't seem to do them any more. It's a real shame."

None of the line-up seems too impressed with TV these days. Not even Britain's Got Talent - the closest thing we've got to a traditional variety show - hits the spot. "They just line these people up to be cruel to them," says Tommy. "It's not about talent. I saw the line-up for panto in Windsor this year. The dancing dog from Britain's Got Talent is top of the bill. How sad is that? We're funnier than them." They all know they've had their chips when it comes to prime-time TV shows. But there's little bitterness.

The Krankies go as far as to say they didn't "get" The Office, but everyone's too professional to be any more controversial than that. "We think Peter Kay is great," says Janette. A thought echoed by virtually everyone else. "We're not into so-called intellectual comedy," says Ian. Frank Carson won't mention any names but drops a very heavy hint about a certain lisping BBC presenter. "Can you imagine paying someone £18 million for three years?" he says.

After the show the stars (except Paul Daniels and Tommy Cannon who've decided to get an early night) gather in the theatre bar and enjoy a tipple before hopping into their cars to carry on the party at the hotel. The Krankies offer me a lift with Frank Carson and Bobby Ball following. We get hopelessly lost in the middle of Skegness. Frank blames Bobby, who blames Ian. They remonstrate with each other in the Skeggie nightfall. You couldn't make this up.

"He hasn't driven round here since 19 seventy bloody one," says Janette, rolling her eyes and calling the hotel. "Hello? Yes, hello it's the Krankies." Priceless. "How do we get to you?" The bemused receptionist directs the hapless comedy stars to the door. Jimmy Cricket gets the wines and beers in, and Janette settles for a whisky and soda. They stay up bantering, nattering, reminiscing and laughing - always laughing - until the wee small ones.

The Best of British Variety Tour isn't sophisticated, it's not highbrow, politically clever or in any way subtle. And the audience lap it up. There is a smattering of kids, teens and 20-somethings, but the majority are 60-plus and complete with wheelchairs, hip replacements, Murray Mints and set perms.

"If Frank Carson couldn't go on stage, I guarantee he'd be dead in three years," says Tommy. Frank ponders this. "Make that one," he says. And for once, he's not joking...


'We're not into that intellectual comedy - we like Peter Kay' - haha, that says it all. Though I saw The Krankies on a family day out in the early 80s - it was quite good fun admittedly.

There was a great letter into Viz comic once that read 'I've recently found myself being attracted to Jeanette Krankie and I'm not sure if this means I'm gay, straight or a paedo' - haha
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Joined: 25 Apr 2006

PostPosted: Tue Sep 02, 2008 10:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Krankies ready to deliver some fandabidozi nostalgia
Sep 2 2008
Gavin Allen,
South Wales Echo

A cast of TV faces from yesteryear have joined forces for The Best Of British Variety Tour. Gavin Allen caught up with wee Jimmy Krankie to wallow in the irony

“WHEN you are four foot six inches and have a high-pitched voice then you stand out quite a lot anyway,” says Jeanette Tough, otherwise known as wee Jimmy Krankie, on life out of the spotlight.

The Krankies are currently touring the UK in The Best Of British Variety, a show that unites six acts that used to be household names in the ’70s and ’80s. But these days the pair – Scottish husband and wife team Jeanette and Ian – are happier without the attentions of fame.

“Not being on TV is good because it gets us peace and quiet,” says Jeanette from BBC Television Centre where they were appearing as guests on the Paul O’Grady Show. The Toughs, both 61, are working because they enjoy performing, rather than for the money and split their semi-retired time between homes in Torquay and the Gold Coast in Australia. “We go walking along the coast, go cycling, play golf – I play nine holes and fall down five,” quips the diminutive comedienne, who introduced the word ‘fandabidozi’ to the national lexicon.

The Krankies are one of the most unique acts to have ever been in the national spotlight, Jeanette playing Jimmy the naughty schoolboy who confesses his antics while sitting on his father Ian’s knee in a strange and slightly macabre act.

“People have said ‘it’s a bit strange you dressing up in a little boy’s uniform all these years’ but there’s nothing strange about it,” says Jeanette. “It works and it has given us a wonderful career.”

It is strange to interview Jimmy Krankie though, not just because I grew up watching their act on TV but also because – especially with a phone interview – it’s very hard to reconcile that voice with a lady of pensionable age. Her Stirlingshire accent is strong and cartoonishly high-pitched, like that of a schoolboy or an elderly woman.

Tough’s age was brought into focus when she suffered a very serious accident in 2004 after falling 10 feet from a mechanical beanstalk during a panto performance, which left her with a fractured skull, broken collarbone, two broken ribs, torn ligaments and a perforated ear drum.

“They didn’t know whether to put me in the paediatrics ward or the geriatric ward,” she jokes, but later adds, “I did think about giving it all up, but it wasn’t my fault. It was a mechanical failure.” Yet serious is not a word that suits this show of pure ironic nostalgia. “As with all the acts on the bill, we wouldn’t have survived this long if we weren’t very good,” defends Tough, who will perform a 15-minute slot with The Krankies.

“No-one out there is going to waste your time. It’s the same as with Ken Dodd; he’s not just out there trying stuff to see if it works. It’s all honed and perfected.”

Tough believes that TV shows like Britain’s Got Talent have brought variety back – “I think the public have forgotten what it is that people can actually do” – and that their act remains a legitimate proposition. Our type of humour has been passed down from generation to generation, children have grown up with it and passed it on to their children and in some cases even their grandchildren,” she offers. “Children’s humour hasn’t changed and they still laugh at the same stuff I laughed at as a child. If something is funny, it’s funny.”
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 19, 2011 12:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Krankies reveal wild nights and secret swinging sessions
George Mair,
Sunday Mail
Dec 18 2011

PANTO legends The Krankies have told how they were secret swingers who slept with a string of lovers in their heyday. The kids’ favourites – husband and wife Ian and Janette Tough – have revealed they only gave up their wild nights when it all got too complicated.

In an outrageous interview, to be broadcast on Radio Scotland today, they claim they had to give up sleeping around to prevent their lovers getting jealous. The couple, who are appearing in Robinson Crusoe at Glasgow’s Clyde Auditorium, said they had an “anywhere, anytime” attitude to sex. When radio host Edi Stark quizzed them about their “active physical relationship”, Ian, 64, admitted they enjoyed sex on golf courses, adding: “Jersey was good.” And Janette, famous as naughty schoolboy Wee Jimmy Krankie, said: “We went out for Sunday lunch one day and got a bit romantic out at sea. We nearly ended up in France. I couldn’t make it last that long now.”

Janette said they called time on their swinging lifestyle because their other partners were getting jealous and they were afraid of “kiss and tell” stories appearing. Ian said: “Today it would be in the papers instantly. In those days people were very good.” Both Ian and Janette, also 64, admitted they were “wilder than rock stars” on tour and would often drink to excess. She said: “It wasn’t years or months or anything like that. It was when we were on tour.” Ian added: “Status Quo lent us their coach once and when we gave it back they said, ‘Blinkin’ heck, this is worse than if we’d lent it to a rock show and this was for a kids’ show’.”

The couple got together when they were just 18 after meeting at Glasgow’s Pavilion Theatre. They tied the knot three years later and have been married for 43 years. Ian revealed he is very protective of Janette and once punched Paul Daniels in a bar on Jersey, where he and Janette were doing a summer season. But he said he had since made it up with the TV magician.

He said: “I was a bit punchy when I was in my thirties. Again it all goes back to protecting reputation. Yes – I punched Paul Daniels – but that’s not really a bad thing is it? I think he must have contradicted something I was saying. I’d likely had a drink and I just went… bang . He fell off his chair and the whole bar applauded and said, ‘It’s time somebody did that.’ Paul’s matured like me. He knows he was a bore in those days.”

Ian also revealed he used to enjoy streaking. He said: “We were in our early thirties and we got fame and went a bit berserk. Luckily we didn’t get into drugs, like they do today, but we were wild. I used to run round housing estates with nothing on for a bet. We were party people.”


You can hear the full interview by clicking HERE
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