Jimmy Cricket will be appearing at a gala concert in Derby on November 5 to celebrate fifty years in showbusiness
Jimmy Cricket comes from an era of comedians that includes Morecambe and Wise, Tommy Cooper, Frankie Howerd, Harry Worth, Tom O’Connor and Charlie Williams — but Jimmy is one of only a handful from that old school still performing. These were artists who made their living on the tough working men’s clubs before national fame beckoned through exposure on television.
At the age of 77 Jimmy remains a consummate performer. He is a fine singer, plays the saxophone, does a bit of juggling, and is a very impressive magician. But above all he is a very funny stand up comic, admired by the likes of Tim Vine.
Jimmy, whose touring schedule still takes him across these islands, was born Jimmy Mulgrew in Cookstown, Co. Tyrone. His family relocated to the Ardoyne district of Belfast where Jimmy was brought up.
He reckons he inherited his sense of humour from his father. “He was a very funny man. He ran the local undertakers and a pub in the town. And he was he local auctioneer as well.
“When I was about two my family moved to Belfast and opened a shop in Ligoneil. It wasn’t long before I was doing impressions for the customers — much to the displeasure of me mammy who would clip me around the ear for embarrassing her.”
It was in Belfast that Jimmy’s love of showbusiness was nurtured. “My Da would take me to the cinema —the pictures — and we saw Charlie Chaplin and Norman Wisdom on the big screen. It was mesmerising to me.”
After leaving school at 16 Jimmy eventually found work in Butlin’s holiday camp in Mosney, Co. Meath. This is where his act was born.
By the early 1970s Jimmy was living in Manchester, working during the day and at nights building a reputation as a comedian.
It was about this time Jimmy adopted the stage name Jimmy Cricket.
“Around 1981 ITV had a series running called Search For A Star. I finished as runner-up in the grand final. This was a beginning for me and set the ball rolling. I was now making regular guest spots on national TV and radio and ended up hosting my own TV series for Central Television. I also had my own show on BBC Radio 2.”
With the gradual decline of traditional seaside entertainment that was once a mainstay of British summer resorts, the theatres of such towns have become under threat of extinction, with either closure or conversion to other use. Jimmy Cricket has a passion to keep the tradition alive.
“I am very active in campaigning to keep all those lovely old building alive not only for entertainment but also for posterity,” he said. “The West Cliff Theatre in Clacton is one example. Not only did we keep the building but we modernised it and doubled the attendance over the last few seasons, and its future is no longer in doubt.”
In 2015 Jimmy received a Papal Knighthood from Pope Francis, the Order of St Gregory, for his years of charity work. “Ach it was nice to get it. It was in Latin too — kept on referring to me as Jacobus. I think it was a couple of friends of mine who were responsible. I do charity work with a couple of Asian doctors to raise money for them to train doctors back home. I think they pestered the local bishop till he said, ‘Ach aye. I’ll get in touch with the Vatican.’”
Jimmy will be appearing at a special concert on November 5 to help raise funds for Bishop John Ryan, diocese of Mzuzu, Africa.
The concert takes place on Saturday, November 5 at Christ the King Parish Centre,
Jimmy Cricket in concert
Christ the King Parish Centre
Concert begins 19.45
Tickets £10 and can be reserved by texting your surname to 07772471894 or pay on the door