Jimmy Clitheroe

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James Robinson Clitheroe
Jimmy Clitheroe.jpg
Jimmy Clitheroe
Born (1921-12-24)24 December 1921
Clitheroe, Lancashire, England
Died 6 June 1973(1973-06-06) (aged 51)
Blackpool, Lancashire, England
Cause of death Accidental overdose of sleeping tablets
Nationality English
Occupation Comedian, actor, musician
Net worth Left £102,306 in will published on 25 October 1973.
Height 4 ft 2 in (127 cm) tall
Weight 5 st (70 lb; 32 kg)
Spouse(s) None
Children None
Parent(s) James Robert Clitheroe. Emma (Pye) Clitheroe.

James Robinson Clitheroe (24 December 1921 – 6 June 1973), popularly known as Jimmy Clitheroe, was an English comic entertainer.[1] He is best remembered for his BBC Radio programme, The Clitheroe Kid (1958–72), a version of which was produced for television on the ITV network under the title Just Jimmy (1964–68).

Early years[edit]

He was born in Clitheroe, Lancashire, England on Christmas Eve 1921 at 58 Wilkin Street, (now called Highfield Road)[2], to weavers Emma Pye and James Robert Clitheroe, who had married in 1918. He was born at his maternal grandparents' house. Within days the family moved to Blacko, near Nelson,[2] living at 14 Spout Houses, a row of terrace houses below Blacko Tower. He attended the Council School up to the age of 12, when he transferred to Barrowford Board School for his final two years.[3][4]

An only child, he was named after his mother's brother, James Robinson Pye, who had been born in Clitheroe in 1894 and was killed in action in the First World War.[5]

According to newspapers in 1937 and 1938, at the age of 16 Clitheroe was 3ft 6in and a half. His father was over 6ft tall and his mother was 5ft 5in, but Jimmy never grew any taller than 4ft 2in — about average for an 8 or 9 year old boy. Clitheroe's small size was caused by his thyroid gland being damaged at birth during a forceps delivery and, until later life,[6] he could easily pass for an 11-year-old boy, which was the character he played on stage, in his early films and on radio in The Clitheroe Kid.

Career[edit]

Jimmy Clitheroe was too small to work in the weaving sheds with his parents as he couldn't reach the looms[7] so at first he worked in a bakery in Nelson on leaving school, but before long started out on the stage, touring the variety theatres in Yorkshire and Lancashire from 1937. He was a boy accordionist and also played the xylophone and saxophone. His parents bought a caravan so they could take him round the various towns in whose theatres he appeared.[8] He made his first pantomime appearance in 1938, alongside the bumptious "Two Ton" Tessie O'Shea. In pantomime Jimmy was usually cast as Buttons, Tom Thumb or Wishee Washee.[9] but moved into films from 1940 (thanks to a chance meeting with top of the bill stars Arthur Lucan & Kitty McShane), into radio from 1954 (initially on the BBC's regional Home Service North, and subsequently on the nationwide Light Programme), and finally onto television (with ITV, produced by ABC Television in their Manchester studios) from 1963.

He also appeared in pantomime and summer season dates and bit-part film appearances with Old Mother Riley, George Formby, Vera Lynn, and Frank Randle.[10]

His long-running radio programme on the BBC, The Clitheroe Kid, which aired from May 1958 to August 1972, is still occasionally repeated on BBC Radio 4 Extra. His catchphrase was "Don't some mothers 'ave 'em!"[6]

In 1959 Jimmy Clitheroe took part in the royal command variety show and he also starred in the television series Holiday Hotel.

Mollie Sugden (who played Mrs Slocombe in the BBC TV series Are You Being Served?) played Clitheroe's mother on stage in the 1960s and in his ITV television series Just Jimmy from 1964 to 1968 (which also featured Jimmy's co-star from The Clitheroe Kid, Danny Ross).[11]

Clitheroe owned a bookmaker's shop on Springfield Road and the Fernhill Hotel at Preesall, and appeared on Blackpool stages for many decades. For many years he drove a Mercedes with blocks on the pedals so his feet could reach them. Appearing to be an underage driver, he could seldom complete a journey without coming to the attention of the police.[12]

Death[edit]

In September 1972 the Clitheroe Kid was axed by the BBC after a 14 year run.[13]

On 30 March 1973 Clitheroe collapsed in his hotel room in Plymouth and spent four days in hospital.

Jimmy Clitheroe died on 6 June 1973 from an accidental overdose of sleeping pills and after having seven brandies, on the day of his mother's funeral. He was found unconscious in bed by relatives and died later that same day in hospital in Blackpool. His mother had died five days before aged 84.[14][15] His funeral was held at Carleton Crematorium, Blackpool, where for many years he was commemorated by a plaque attached to memorial tree Number 3.

Personal life[edit]

He never married. He lived with his mother, to whom he was very close, in a bungalow at Bispham Road, Blackpool. His father died in January 1951.[6]

Filmography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ JIMMY CLITHEROE Popular radio entertainer. The Times Thursday, 7 June 1973; pg. 21; Issue 58802
  2. ^ a b Gill Johnson (17 May 2007). "Research reveals life of 'Clitheroe Kid'". Lancashire Telegraph. Newquest. Retrieved 24 September 2015.
  3. ^ http://www.blackpoolpostcards.co.uk/2012/10/famous-blackpool-entertainers/
  4. ^ http://www.blackpoolpostcards.co.uk/2012/10/famous-blackpool-entertainers/
  5. ^ "Lancashire Lantern community history – East Lancashire Regiment". Lancs-local-resources.talis.com. 30 March 1917. Archived from the original on 23 July 2012. Retrieved 4 July 2012.
  6. ^ a b c Glynne-Jones, Tim (2014). Born in the 60s. Arcturus Publishing. ISBN 978-1-90940-978-1.
  7. ^ http://www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk/news/1405865.research_reveals_life_of_clitheroe_kid/
  8. ^ https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/uk.music.folk/1VZ33u5XiG4
  9. ^ http://www.blackpoolpostcards.co.uk/2012/10/famous-blackpool-entertainers/
  10. ^ Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
  11. ^ https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0163458/fullcredits
  12. ^ https://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/news/tragic-end-of-blackpool-comic-genius-1-426503
  13. ^ http://www.delabole.com/acrobat/2013/Slate%20May%202013.pdf
  14. ^ Stevens, Christopher (2010). Born Brilliant: The Life Of Kenneth Williams. John Murray. pp. 412/3. ISBN 1-84854-195-3.
  15. ^ "Tragic end of Blackpool comic genius". Blackpool Gazette. Johnston Publishing. 2 May 2008. Retrieved 24 September 2015.
  16. ^ Rhythm Serenade at the Internet Movie DataBase

External links[edit]