Their first TV appearance was in 1974 in the variety show The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club before landing a performance on Bruce Forsyth’s Big Night, although their segment didn’t make it to broadcast.
In 1979, LWT offered them their own series, The Cannon and Ball Show, which premiered in ITV on 28 July 1979. Further series followed each year through to 1988, along with Christmas and Easter specials.
They were the subjects of This Is Your Life in 1981 when they were surprised by Eamonn Andrews.
In 1982, they appeared in a feature film, The Boys in Blue, based loosely on the Will Hay film, Ask a Policeman. The Boys in Blue was regarded critically as weak in comparison and was their only cinema outing.
They also featured in a comic strip Rock on Tommy, which was published in the magazine Look-in.
Their popularity coincided with the rise of alternative comedy, with its emphasis on more socially relevant and political concerns.
As time passed, Cannon and Ball’s popularity began to decline, though they were not the only comedy act to suffer as comic tastes shifted.
During the 1980s, Greg Dyke, the then Head of Programming at ITV station TVS and later to hold a similar position at LWT expressed a concern that northern comedy shows may not suit southern tastes.
LWT – get knotted.
I only saw them on stage once – think it was in Scarborough around the end of the 80s. Hate to say it but apart from pub folk music which we regularly attended, the only other show I ever saw during those decades was an Alan Ayckbourn play, also in Scarborough.
Scarborough was never really my scene, too touristy, although I’d go to Debenhams to buy things and bought one of my cars there. Occasionally we’d go south to Filey, furthest west we went was the now named A1[M], Darlington.
Speaking of comedians – Spike, Morecambe and Wise, that Pam person whose comedy was always taking the p*** out of men [yeah, really funny] – they were liked but for me, Cannon and Ball were quite earthy, almost amateurish, which I personally liked. RIP Bobby Ball.
For non-English, esp. American viewers, you might know of the north-south divide and our Mason-Dixon line was, according to south-easterners, something like this:
… but what would they know? Were I to draft the map, Wales would be on its own over there, maybe with Merseyside and the rest would be Lancashire west of the Pennines and the old Northumbria east, up as far as, and including, Berwick. The Scots would dispute that last bit.