I saw a programme on Channel 5 last night about the great Frankie Howerd. Amazingly, it was 33 years ago today – 8th May 1989 – that, on behalf of CAFC, I staged ‘The Frankie Howerd Show’ at The Orchard Theatre, Dartford.
The Show was the first part of a programme of fundraising events I organised to celebrate the recent announcement by Roger Alwen at Woolwich Town Hall of the Club’s intention to return to The Valley.
Frankie had been a huge comedy star – ‘Up Pompeii’ had been one of the most popular TV shows of the 1970s – but after a lull in his career he was starting to become very popular again, particularly with students and young people. The Charlton link with Frankie was that he was born in Eltham and in fact went to the school that I would subsequently go to, Shooters Hill Grammar School.
Frankie was brilliant to work with and he visited the Club’s training ground at Sparrows Lane to do some promotional photos for the Show with the late, great Tom Morris, Charlton’s legendary Club Photographer. After the photo-shoot Frankie stayed and chatted to some of the players and Charlton staff. In fact, Michael ‘Beno’ Bennett and I were reminiscing about this at The Valley just a few weeks ago.
On a very hot night, the show attracted a smaller audience than we had hoped but it went really well and everyone who came had a great time. Frankie and the supporting cast, which included Terry Morrison of ‘Fundation’ fame (The Tramshed Theatre’s resident comedy group which included Hale and Pace) and comedy acrobat Steve Rawlings, all did a superb job.
Just a couple of months later Frankie did his famous, one-man TV special at the Oxford Union and immediately became a cult figure.
Sadly, Frankie died in 1992 but ‘titter ye not’, I shall always remember that time I got to work with one of the absolute greats of comedy.