Comedy legend Tommy Cannon is taking on his first solo acting role in a brand new musical show coming to Fife next month.
Still best known as half of the hit duo Cannon and Ball, Tommy has been spreading his wings of late – he’s appearing throughout September in Emmerdale – and now is embracing the new challenge of a role in the comedy musical Right Place! Wrong Time! The show will be at ONFife’s Carnegie Hall, Dunfermline, on October 18.
Described as a hilarious tale of a deceased bank robber, a café owner and a lovesick ghost, the play has had audiences in fits of laughter from start to finish.
Speaking about his solo role, Tommy said: “It’s all very different from the act that Bobby and I do, which is structured but also fairly free-wheeling.
“Bobby still surprises me, even today, doing something that is completely spontaneous.
“A stage play means learning lines, for a start - lots of them - and, of course, sticking to them. You can’t wing it and go off-course. The rest of the cast would never forgive you!”
The play has been written by Crissy Rock - currently appearing in the TV show Celebs on The Farm - and Leah Bell, who were previously on the road touring for two years with their hit play Dirty Dusting.
Tommy first met Leah many years ago where they were all doing a summer season together in Jersey and had kept in touch.
“Then, earlier in the year, and out of the blue, I got a call from her, and I thought ‘It’s new, it’s a great script, and people love it, so…let’s go for it’,” he said.
He’s playing the small-time crook and ladies’ man Albert Blunderstone, who, says Tommy, “is best summed up as a bit of a northern Del Boy”.
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Asked if he was apprehensive about acting in this new venture without Bobby Ball, Tommy said: “I’ll have a crack at anything, as long as the offers keep on coming. You know the two saddest words in the English language? They are ‘if only’.
“When someone gets to a certain age, and they look back and sigh and say ‘If only I’d done this….or that’. Of course everyone makes mistakes, but you have to learn from them. That’s the way forward.”
All this from a man who, incredibly, celebrated his 80th birthday in June this year.
“I know,” he laughs, “I can’t believe it either. But it’s true, and I am very blessed, I know that all too well!”
Cannon and Ball’s act was forged in the working men’s clubs of the day, “and we very much learned on the hoof.”
Their big break came just as cabaret clubs were closing around the country in the late 70s and early 80s. They were offered a three-year contract by London Weekend…and stayed for many years more.
Today, Tommy and Bobby both go their own ways for parts of the year. They always meet up for a Christmas panto and there are many other gigs together.
But it hasn’t always been calm sailing. There were three years when the lads were barely speaking to each other.
“You could have cut the atmosphere with a knife,” recalled Tommy. “It was awful. I won’t say that we hated each other, it was just that there was an unpleasantness.
“And neither of us, looking back, knows what brought it on.
“My own feeling is that we were each surrounded by our own little entourage, and instead of me talking to Bobby, or Bobby talking to me, communications broke down, and it was all through third parties. That wasn’t helpful at all.
“But we resolved things. That’s what matters”.
He admits with a chuckle that he still gets the Cannon and Ball catchphrase “Rock on, Tommy” shouted after him.
Tommy was always the abrasive one, the bully to Ball’s cheekiness and softer touch.
“I’m the only man in this business that has been consistently hated for over 50 years for what I do to Bob,” he laughs.
But that isn’t entirely true. When the pair were on the ITV Lorraine programme recently, Tommy got back home, had a good night’s sleep, and was woken with a call from his son Luke saying Twitter was going crazy with people saying how much they missed the fun of Cannon and Ball.
“Thousands and thousands of them,” he says. “All saying wonderful things. I had tears in my eyes. I never realised that we were loved so much.”
Right Place! Wrong Time is at Carnegie Hall, Dunfermline, on Friday, October 18. Ticket info HERE www.onfife.com.