Pier show memories needed for book

Pier show regulars at Cromer are being asked to help provide pictures and stories for a new book about the long-running piece of seaside entertainment.Comic Keith Simmons is in his sixth season in the show, currently headlining with son Ben, had the idea of a book came when he was shown programmes from his first year in 1979 - the second year of the show.'I have been a part of the show for so long I seemed the right person to do it,' he said.

For more than 30 years Cromer's Seaside Special has been entertaining tourists and locals with its blend of comedy, song, dance and speciality acts.

Now one of its stalwart cast members is aiming to bottle atmosphere and anecdotes of the unique variety show in a book charting its history - but needs the help of fans.

Keith Simmons is in his sixth season in the show, currently headlining with son Ben having earlier worked with brother Alan.

The idea of a book came when he was shown programmes from his first year in 1979 - the second year of the show.


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'I have been a part of the show for so long I seemed the right person to do it,' he said.

Mr Simmons, who appeared in 1996, 97, and 98 as well as the past two summers, said he had worked under three different regimes - from Irish impresario Dick Condon and long serving director Bob Marlowe, to the current bosses Openwide and their devisor Di Cooke,

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'In 1979 there were sometimes only 30 people in the audience, and Dick would send me out in one of my character costumes, superhero Fab Man, to deliver flyers around the caravan parks,' he recalled.

The show took off in the 80s and now has a following that is the envy of many seaside theatres, and a high reputation in the showbusiness world.

'It has also really become part of Cromer life, with a lot of people coming here just to see it,' he added. And the show, while modernising over the years, had kept its traditional format for a season which lasted 14 weeks with rehearsals - unlike many resorts which now staged different shows ever night and probably just for the main high season.

Mr Simmons is keen to track down former cast members and regular showgoers to tap into their funds of memories and memorabilia.

'I am doing letters to cast members such as Bradley Walsh and Traffle, and already have a contact for a lady who has seen every season,' Mr Simmons added.

Chief technician at the pier Alex Hannah had also unearthed press cuttings and programmes from his attic to help start the collection.

Mr Simmons hoped to collate the material over the winter, between pantomime work, with the hope of publishing in time for next summer, and said that despite having penned plenty of pantos in the past doing a book would be a 'learning curve'.

Anyone with stories, pictures, or other ephemera from the shows should send it to him at the Pavilion Theatre, Cromer Pier, NR27 9HE.

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