Remembering Bobby Thompson - the best there ever was

Bobby Thompson with his fans at the Sunderland Empire.
Bobby Thompson with his fans at the Sunderland Empire.

Bobby Thompson – the best there ever was, according to some Sunderland Echo readers.

What a response we got when we carried a recent nostalgic report on the great man, and here are some of your responses as well as one or two more of Bobby’s punchlines.

The Rosslyn Babes who starred in Jack and Beanstalk alongside Bobby Thompson.

The Rosslyn Babes who starred in Jack and Beanstalk alongside Bobby Thompson.

Alan Mould was a young lad when he first got to see the Little Waster.

In fact, he not only saw Little Bob - he even inadvertently played his own minor role in one of Bob’s videos!

Alan explained: “My dad took me to see Bobby Thompson at the Empire as a 15-year-old, thinking I might not get the chance to see him when I was older.

“Little did we know that we would end up sitting at the front table when Bobby recorded his video at Percy Main Social Club in 1982, specially invited as a member of Ryhope Poplars Social Club where he had made an audio recording some years earlier.

My dad took me to see Bobby Thompson at the Empire as a 15 year old. Little did we know that we would end up sitting at the front table when Bobby recorded his video at Percy Main Social Club in 1982

Alan Mould

“What a superb night it was, and now I can see myself and all my old mates every time I watch the DVD. Great memories.”

They certainly are Alan, and you probably got to enjoy some classic gags such as: “A man come to oor door. I says come in, tak a seat. He says ‘I’m coming in to tak the lot.’”

George McCarthy was another to get in touch. He told us: “Enjoyed today’s article about Little Bob. He also appeared in two pantos in 1954-55 and 1955-56, where he was top of the bill, and appearing with him was The Rosslyn Babes.

George is an avid archivist on the Empire from 1907 until today, and similarly with The Rosslyn Babes. He would love to hear from anyone who still has the programme of Aladdin, which ran from December 24, 1956, to January 19, 1957.

George hopes to either borrow and photocopy the programme or buy it “to complete my collection with The Rosslyn Babes pantos.”

Can you help him? Email chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk

Kathleen Wilson’s dad Jossy Wilson was Secretary at Southwick Social Club and knew Bobby well.

Kathleen said: “Bobby was engaged often at the club, performing to a packed concert room.

“He attended with his ‘Dresser’, Paddy, who was always there for him, carried his bag, and ordered his drinks. Sometimes Federation Special, but mostly, bitter lemon.

“Bobby became a family friend. On the occasion of my parents’ silver wedding, they received a congratulatory telegram from Bobby, which we still have.

“Whatever situation there was for Bobby, and when things were tough, he always was given a performance date, at Southwick Club. I think he performed there more than any other club.”

Bobby’s great skill, you all said, was to make people laugh with his clean humour – all of it in that broad North East accent.

When we shared his story on social media more than 20,000 people were reached.

They included Gillian Atkinson who said: “I first saw him at the La Strada in 1976. Very posh. He ribbed the women all night about their ‘catalogue’ outfits. Brilliant comedian.”

On a similar theme, Treena Cooke said: “Absolutely love his comedy ... still do, this would be a nudist camp if ya aall took ya catalogue gear off!! ...most of it still relevant too.”

Colin Fozzard hailed Bobby as the “funniest comedian I’ve ever heard ... Miles ahead of today’s lot.”

Lynn Appleby remembered: “I worked in the box office at the Empire when Bobby was on, very polite and thanked us for our hard work.”

Mary Hopkins joined the conversation and said: “Saw him many times at Ryhope Pops club brilliant comedian x.”

Marilyn Towers said Bobby “used to drink with my dad Joe Briscoe many years ago at West Rainton Club”, while Anthony Frazer commented: “What a brill man, no swearing in his jokes, just down to earth about every day life.”

Then there were those who knew Bobby personally, including Mary Middlemiss, who said: “He was great comedian and was great friend of my dad Paddy Fox for 36 years.”

And Beverley Pearson Bilton, who said: “My Mam babysat for him and my gran lived next door to him when he lived at Lumley.”

Sadly, the world lost a man of real talent almost 30 years ago.

Bobby may have gone but the memories of gags galore – and all clean – will live on forever.