Friday, 29 August 2014

Letter about Jack Herbert published in the Guardian

I take back everything I said in the previous post - the Guardian has indeed printed my letter about the link between Sid Field and Jack Herbert, and even provided the perfect headline, as you can see in the above screengrab from the online version.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

A letter to the Guardian

Michael Billington, writing today for the Guardian's "A book that changed me" feature, chooses Kenneth Tynan's He That Plays the King, an early collection of pieces by the great theatre critic and essayist which includes his portrait of the comic Sid Field.

You can read the full article on the Guardian's website here, but as cowriter of Freddie Davies's recent autobiography Funny Bones it was one small detail which leapt out at me - and may well have struck those of you who've already read Freddie's book.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Freddie to speak at British Music Hall Society's 15th Celebrity Luncheon

Freddie Davies will be appearing at the British Music Hall Society's 15th Celebrity Luncheon, held at the Lancaster Hall Hotel in Bayswater on Sunday 31st August 2014.

Those lucky enough to be attending will hear Freddie talk about his grandad, music hall and variety comic Jack Herbert, and afterwards there will be a chance to meet Freddie and buy his new autobiography Funny Bones, which interweaves Jack's story with his own.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

It all started in Slough - no, make that Walthamstow ...

It's a little-known fact that comedian Freddie "Parrotface" Davies made his debut in Walthamstow's Crooked Billet pub (above) - so little known that Freddie himself was unaware of it until recently.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

What does "funny bones" mean?

What does the phrase "funny bones" mean? All is revealed in Freddie Davies's autobiography of that name but perhaps the simplest and clearest definition is provided by Jerry Lewis in the film which shares that title: a funny bones comedian is funny; a non-funny bones comedian tells funny.

It's part of a speech in which Lewis's character has to tell his son the painful truth that he doesn't have whatever that magical quality is:

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Kevin Cann's review of Funny Bones

The high highs and low lows of a Great British Comedian

Funny Bones by Freddie Davies is a serious piece of work. Not in the sense it is unfunny, as there is of course a lot of humour throughout, but it is a far more studied and well put together autobiography than I had expected. At 340 pages it covers Freddie's life and career in great detail, and also that of his grandfather, the comedian Jack Herbert, who proved an enormous inspiration for Freddie in his formative years. The research here is impeccable.

Freddie's career is here, warts and all, and in the glossy and apparently privileged world of showbusiness you really get the vulnerable and precarious side of maintaining an act and career too - and how hard it really is.

 He had his fair share of dealing with sharks over the years - strange venues, strange audiences, amazing audiences - extreme highs and money trouble lows. His dealings as a manager and promoter of many name acts is very interesting (having to work with strange divas like pianist Russ Conway is very revealing for one).

Thursday, 14 August 2014

From Dunoon to Didsbury - the big break for Freddie "Parrotface" Davies

From the Summer 2014 Edition of STAGEDOOR Magazine, published by the Scottish Music Hall & Variety Theatre Society.

Readers will be delighted to know that comedian Freddie Davies is finally publishing his autobiography at the grand old age of 77. Entitled Funny Bones: My Life in Comedy it is, as Ken Dodd says in his foreword, "the full story, from soup to nuts", going far beyond Freddie's television fame to reveal a man in love with theatre and comedy from an early age.

Freddie's grandad, variety and revue comic Jack Herbert, let young Freddie watch his act from the wings at theatres like the Salford Hippodrome, igniting the passion which would take Freddie all the way to the top, starting with an appearance on Opportunity Knocks on 1st August 1964.

But you may not know that the week which led to Freddie's TV debut actually began in Scotland - Dunoon, to be exact.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Freddie interviewed by Billy Butler on BBC Radio Merseyside

Freddie Davies was interviewed by Billy Butler on BBC Radio Merseyside on 11th August. Billy says of Freddie's book: "It took me back to so many different places and so many different times and so many names I remember as well." Freddie relives his early days in the clubs and experience of being paid off - and tells the story of how another Freddie allegedly dealt with a notorious Liverpool heckler.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Family Secret That Shocked “Parrotface”

In his late sixties veteran comedian Freddie Davies made a startling discovery about the inspirational man he called “Grandad”. It’s something he is still trying to come to terms with, as Anthony Teague, cowriter of Freddie’s newly published autobiography Funny Bones, explains. 

Growing up in 1940s Salford, Freddie Davies never knew his father. But he idolised the man he called Grandad, variety comic Jack Herbert. Freddie would watch his act from the wings and by the age of ten he knew that he wanted to be a comedian too. 

 It was a determination which never wavered, and by the time Opportunity Knocks came along in 1964 Freddie had developed a distinctive comedy persona with his zany, spluttering "Parrotface" character, Samuel Tweet. 

By this time his grandad had long retired - or rather the business had given him up. Variety theatres had been closing at a rate of knots in the fifties and Jack couldn't get on with the brasher style required for clubs. Forgotten by all but a few, Jack Herbert died aged seventy three in 1969, at the height of Freddie's fame. 

But Jack was to make two dramatic re-entries into Freddie's life in later years.

Monday, 4 August 2014

During the filming of Funny Bones

A Ghostwriter Writes: article on publishing industry website Bookbrunch

Anthony Teague, cowriter of Funny Bones, has written about his experience of working with Freddie in an article for publishing industry website Bookbrunch. Read the article on the Bookbrunch website here or see below.

Anthony Teague admits to being a novice ghostwriter. But he brought a playwright's sensibilities to his co-written autobiography of comic Freddie Davies

Today, 31 July, the autobiography of veteran comic Freddie Davies, which I have co-written, will be published by Northern indie Scratching Shed. It's the end of a three-year journey which began when I wrote a blog post about Freddie, a childhood idol, and sent a link to his website. Within about six weeks of that initial contact I found myself walking across the bridge at Pitlochry Station in Perthshire to meet, as he put it in an email, "an older, fatter version of me".

The comedian who inspired Freddie Davies

This is a slightly abridged version of the above article in the summer edition of The Call Boy, the magazine of the BMHS (British Music Hall Society), about Jack Herbert, Freddie's comedian grandfather who inspired him to go into the business. There are two substantial chapters about him in Freddie's autobiography - indeed, the book begins and ends with this forgotten but talented and original comic whose influence lives on via Sid Field, his straight man for several years.

The comedian who inspired Freddie Davies
by Anthony Teague

As some of you will know, Freddie Davies was unable to attend the British Music Hall Society's 50th anniversary celebrations at Wilton's Music Hall in September of last year. The good news, however, is that he is now fully restored to health and busy promoting his recently published autobiography Funny Bones: My Life in Comedy.

Freddie had planned to talk at Wilton's about his grandfather, the comedian Jack Herbert, who features in the book. Jack had a career of forty-plus years in variety and touring revues, and he had a profound influence on the young Freddie, who used to be taken backstage at the Salford Hippodrome and other local theatres to watch Jack's act from the wings.

First TV exposure for Funny Bones on ITV Yorkshire's Calendar

The first TV exposure for Funny Bones, Freddie Davies's autobiography, came on July 31st when Freddie was interviewed by Duncan Wood and Christine Talbot for ITV Yorkshire's new programme Calendar.

Pics from Soho launch party

These are photos from the launch party for Funny Bones cowriter Anthony Teague (me) at the Academy Club in Soho on July 24th. More to follow. Photographs: Nick MacRae.

Photos from Blackpool book signing

Pictures from the book signing at Waterstones Blackpool on 2nd August - click to enlarge. And if you missed it, there are still some signed copies in the shop, as Freddie reports:

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