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Brother Lees reform for Betty's birthday

PUBLISHED: 10:19 17 January 2009 | UPDATED: 09:21 13 July 2010

They used to play to packed dance halls around their native Norfolk, and then to millions of prime time weekend TV viewers when they switched from music to comedy.

They used to play to packed dance halls around their native Norfolk, and then to millions of prime time weekend TV viewers when they switched from music to comedy.

But the Brother Lees and their other brother Barry put on a more intimate show for 50 guests to mark a big birthday for one of their biggest fans.

And it was the first time the “boys” had sung together as a group for more than 30 years.

Betty Ward from Wymondham and husband Derek used to dance to the music of band's original line-up, Barry Lee and the Planets, as they rose to fame in the 1960s.

And they watched them do their multi-handed impersonations of stars such as Tommy Cooper, Norman Wisdom and Michael Crawford's Frank Spencer, on the Generation Game in the 1970s and 80s.

Mrs Ward, who has just retired after 24 years of care work at the Robert Kett Court in Wymondham, said they booked Barry, who still gigs around pubs and clubs, to sing at her birthday meal at the Constantia Cottage restaurant in East Runton near Cromer.

“I said it would be nice if all the brothers turned up - and they did. They even did a little turn for us.”

Barry, Roger and Tony joined forces to sing two Beatles songs at the venue, where the resident family group the Constantia Brothers are long-standing friends of the Brothers. And Michael and Angus joined in for a photo call memento too.

Roger, who runs a snooker club at Hellesdon, said “Barry was doing his songs, and Tony and I thought we'd go up and mess him up. It was unrehearsed - and not the start of a comeback tour.”

The Planets were formed at an Aylsham pub in 1963, and went professional in 1965 upgrading from village halls to ballrooms, before eventually splitting in two directions. Barry Lee carried on with his music, while the others Tony and Michael Dyball, Roger Reynolds turned to cabaret comedy and impressions, with Angus Jarvis as musical director. After several changes of personal, the final founder Tony, pulled out in 2000 and the “Brothers” folded in 2006.

They regularly reunite socially and in June 2007 gathered to mark founder member Michael's 65th birthday in June 2007. Occasionally there are mini reunions of part of the band such as a 2002 gig to help Michael who suffered a severe stroke a decade earlier, and an appearance at a Golden Years event in Norwich.

Betty Ward, who used to follow other local 60s bands such as the Continentals, Malcolm and the Jet Blacks and Ricky Southern and the Big Beat Four, said having all the Planet band members at her birthday was a real treat.


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