Hullawrerr Fife! Francie and Josie are back in town!
Fifers are being invited to take a step back in time for a night of Scottish comedy with a special tribute to Glasgow teddy boys, Francie and Josie.
Rising from the music halls of Glasgow in the 1960s, Rikki Fulton and Jack Milroy became household names with their lovable characters.
Now, over 50 years later, audiences can relive the magic with performers Liam Dolan (Francie) and Johnny Mac (Josie) as they reignite the comedy duo’s genious for story, song and general silliness with their new show at Lochgelly Centre on Saturday, September 29 at 7.30pm.
Liam, who will be donning his teddy boy suit for the occasion, told the Press what audiences can expect from ‘The Francie and Josie Show’.
He said: “It’s basically a trip down memory lane for people who like old school comedy. It is reminiscent of that end-of-the pier summer season tradition with clever Scottish humour. There are people who come along to see the Francie and Josie Show and they have no idea who they are, but they have come because they know me through my work in panto.
“There are also people like the guy who sent a message to say his grandfather was watching the show with tears in his eyes because he used to go and see Francie and Josie with his wife. The Francie and Josie Show is a great, fun night out.”
Liam revealed where the idea came from: “It started 21 years ago when Johnny Mac and I were in youth theatre together. We were talking about doing a show at the Edinburgh Festival and we decided to do a double act. We needed something that would pull people in.
“Johnny’s grandmother and my grandad were huge fans of Francie and Josie so we thought of doing a show about them.
“Johnny and I started off just doing 15 minutes of a Francie and Josie sketch and theatre managers were telling us that it was hugely popular with audiences and that there was a demand for it, so we decided to do our own show in tribute to them.”
Liam continued: “We contacted Rikki Fulton to make sure we were allowed to do it. We didn’t want to just put on someone else’s comedy routines without asking their permission first. So I got Rikki’s address and sent him a letter explaining what Johnny and I wanted to do and he replied thanking me for asking his permission as not everyone does. He said he was happy for us to use the material as long as we credited the original writers.
“We sent him videos of our show and he wished us the best with it. We still continue to pay homage to Rikki.”
Liam said right from the start they have tried to make the show as authentic as possible: “Twenty-one years ago we managed to get the original costumes worn by Rikki and Jack as Francie and Josie. They had donated them to a shop in Ayr and they were great. We don’t have them anymore – after 21 years we don’t use the same stuff - but we managed to get costumes made by the person who made the original costumes for Rikki and Jack.
“We wanted to do it properly because it means to much to us, we grew up with these characters.
“We have been touring with the show for over four years now and theatres now approach us to perform it at their venues. We have taken it to the Alhambra Theatre in Glasgow, the Kings Theatre in Edinburgh and as far down as Ayr. The Scottish audiences love it.”
But what is it about the characters of Francie and Josie that still continue to draw audiences into theatres today?
Liam said: “It is nostalgia and there is no smutt and no swearing, so it appeals to all ages from nine to 90. The material is also so clever, the audiences love it.”
Liam and Johnny always try to keep the show fresh so they do make changes to the sketches and routines they include.
“A lot of people come and see the show so we like to change it about. For example this time we have the St Andrews Sisters (as opposed to the Andrews Sisters who were an American close harmony singing group of the swing and boogie-woogie eras) who do a bit of war-time stuff and we also have an instrumentalist.”
And in this particular show there is a special treat for Rikki Fulton fans.
Liam said: “We have got the rights for this tour to feature the Rev I M Jolly so he will be preaching in Lochgelly at the end of the month. Johnny does a fantastic impression of him.” Liam said it isn’t hard to impersonate Scottish comedian Jack Milroy: “I don’t find it difficult because I have been doing it for such a long time. Before doing the Francie and Josie Show again I put the DVD on just to refresh it all but when Johnny and I do it, it isn’t a case of us impersonating Francie and Josie, we become them and we have them down to a ‘T’.
“In fact Mary Lee who was Jack’s wife has come to see our show and has given us great support. She has said that our show is as close to the original as you are going to get which is a huge compliment.”
But does Liam have a favourite sketch in the show that he enjoys performing?
“I love the Arbroath gag, we do that in every show. You can feel the anticipation from the audience who know exactly what is coming but they still laugh.
“I still find it very hard not to laugh when telling that joke! It is absolutely brilliant.
“The humour is timeless and the audience always has a great time, they know they will be laughing when they come to see our show.”
He added: “This show will be our only one in Fife. I know the area quite well and am really looking forward to going back.”
For tickets to see ‘The Francie and Josie Show’, visit: www.onfife.com