Eh Up, Me Old Flowers! The Charlie Williams Story
8-29 August at 3.10pm
Charlie Williams was a coal miner, professional footballer and cabaret singer-turned comic who grew up in a mining town in Yorkshire and he was the first black comedian to become a household name.
With his toothy grin, his infectious laugh and his incongruous thick South Yorkshire accent – ‘Tha’s right, love, right accent, wrong colour!’ – he paved the way for many who followed in his footsteps, such as Lenny Henry and Gary Wilmot.
In the 1970s the biggest comedy show on television was ITV’s The Comedians. It took bow-tie comics from the Northern club circuit, put them on the screen for the very first time, and made them into overnight sensations. And the breakout star, the one who shone brightest of all… was Charlie.
Eh Up Me Old Flowers is written by Chris England, whose stage writing includes two plays that began life at the Edinburgh Fringe. Breakfast With Jonny Wilkinson, which was later made into a feature film and An Evening with Gary Lineker, (co-written with Arthur Smith) which then transferred to the West End, where it picked up an Olivier Award nomination. Subsequently, it played all over the world and was a very successful TV film.
Tony Marshall from Casualty, Only Fools and Horses and Life on Mars and seen recently in Jitney at the Old Vic,stars as Charlie. The play not only tells Charlie’s life story, which is extraordinary, but also addresses the nagging feeling that some of his material was somewhat questionable, especially by modern standards. Now in retirement, Charlie faces an uncomfortable visit from a mysterious stranger, played by Nick Read, Red Dwarf, Victoria and as Angus in I Came By, who is vetting him for a potential MBE and demands that Charlie justify himself.
Writer Chris England said: “As far as Charlie’s explanations go, I have used interviews verbatim and other writings to make sure that Charlie makes his case in his own words. And it will be for the audience to decide for themselves whether he justifies himself, and whether it is legitimate to judge a Seventies comic by the standards that currently apply.”
Tony Marshall added: “I have always had a special fondness for Charlie Williams, having watched him as a kid growing up in the North of England. The opportunity to portray a childhood hero of mine was an irresistible one. I can’t wait to bring him back to life and let the audience see for themselves what an incredible man he really was.”
Eh Up, Me Old Flowers! is produced by Simon Fielder Productions and is appearing at the Edinburgh Fringe at the Pleasance Theatre from Monday 8 August to Monday 29 August at 15:10 daily. Tickets start at £10.50. You can book tickets via the Pleasance Theatre at Eh Up, Me Old Flowers! – performances | Pleasance Theatre Trust . You can also follow us on social media on Twitter @simonfielderpr1, Instagram and Facebook @simonfielderproductions to find out more go to www.simonfielder.com.