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From London Palladium to Gorleston Pavilion

Jimmy Tarbuck with Gorleston Pavilion owners Kevin Lynch (left) Stuart Malkovich and fan Amy  Darby

A comedy legend has given his backing to the future of seaside theatres – including the historic Norfolk venue where he is patron. Jimmy Tarbuck has given belly laughs to millions of showgoers and TV viewers for more than 50 years.
But he also put an extra smile on the face of Gorleston Pavilion when he agreed to be its patron.

The Liverpudlian laughter man has added his name and reputation to the Edwardian entertainment palace after trying out material for a major show at the London Palladium where Jimmy made his name.

He fell in love with the atmospheric Norfolk venue – and now regularly does special shows there to help raise funds for its ongoing restoration programme.
Jimmy, now 77, spoke of his love of the Pavilion and how similar seaside venues need to be cherished. He said: “Theatres like the Pavilion are a joy to perform because of the intimacy with the audience. It has an almost ‘dining club’ atmosphere to it. These theatres are old fashioned but there is nothing wrong with that. They need to be wrapped in cotton wool and preserved – and the team at the Pavilion are doing a great job. I hope my association with them helps by attracting acts and audiences.”

Jimmy is appearing in Great Yarmouth this summer, when he brings his one man show, combining comedy with anecdotes from his star-studded career to the Britannia Pier on Friday August 18. It will be a mix of comedy, reminiscence and flashback pictures.

It is an area he has visited many times including in the mid-1960s as his career took off when he took over presenting Sunday Night at the London Palladium from one of his idols Bruce Forsyth.

“I was at Great Yarmouth doing a summer season at the Wellington Pier in 1965 when I got a call up to compere Sunday Night at the London Palladium – which changed my life. I was just 24, working with the biggest stars of the time, in front of 20m TV viewers. It was terrifying.”

It was ahead of a high-profile show at the Palladium in 2015 to mark 50 years in “the business”, jointly starring Des O’Connor, that he visited Gorleston Pavilion to try out new material.

The star’s support has been welcomed by the theatre, and the Greater Yarmouth Tourism and Business Improvement Area which promotes the area and its attractions.

Gorleston Pavilion co-owner Kevin Lynch said: “Having Jimmy’s backing really helps raise our profile - and shows we are not just a little hidden-away seaside theatre. He was looking for a venue where he could see the faces of the audience to gauge their reaction. His PR assistant, who lives in Norfolk, had been to our summer show and recommended the Pavilion. When he rang up out of the blue and said who he was I was speechless. When Jimmy asked if there was anything he could do for us, we asked him to be patron.”

Tourism chiefs at the Greater Yarmouth Tourism and Business Improvement Area say live theatre shows are an important part of the borough’s offer to visitors and locals and they are thrilled with their star supporter.
Chairman Gareth Brown said: “Having a variety of vibrant theatres helps us attract holidaymakers and day visitors, and adds to the entertainment available to visitors and residents alike.

“The Great Yarmouth area has a strong track record of providing a variety of shows in venues steeped in history. We are proud that our local theatres maintain that tradition and that stars like Jimmy Tarbuck are among our supporters.”

PAVILION FACTFILE
Gorleston Pavilion’s ornate Italian style building harks back to its beginnings as an Edwardian concert hall – but it still buzzes today with a busy programme including a 26-week summer show season, family and adult pantos, plus tributes, am dram and community charity shows.
Summer show impresarios during its long history have included agent Joe Collins, the agent father of actress Joan and writer Jackie, who presented concert style shows until 1962.

The atmospheric auditorium, opened in 1901, seats 300 people at cabaret style tables, while the foyer and bar are festooned with fascinating old showbiz posters, photos and props. Kevin Lynch and Stuart Malkovich have run it for the past 25 years. Its history and current programme can be seen at www.gorlestonpavilion.co.uk


OTHER HISTORIC GREAT YARMOUTH THEATRES
Hippodrome – The purpose-built 1903 building has expanded its season in recent years to add spring Pirates, spooky Halloween and Christmas shows to its original summer circus show. The venue, famous for its flooded ring water show finale puts a modern variety twist on a traditional circus mix. www.hippodromecircus.co.uk

St George’s Theatre - A community arts venue based in a former 18th century church turned into an arts venue by local enthusiasts in the 1970s. It stages a range of events from tribute acts and stand-up comedy to live drama, live opera screenings, and ballet - and a modern café bar next door. www.stgeorgestheatre.com

Britannia - The current theatre opened in 1958 on a pier site dating back 100 years earlier. It continues to attract big name stars during the height of the summer season, with this year’s line-up including Jim Davidson, Jimmy Carr, Showaddywaddy, Joe Pasquale, and the Grumbleweeds.
www.britannia-pier.co.uk