1975 Charity Fundraising Show for Birmingham Bomb Victims

This Charity Show was held at the Hippodrome on Sunday 05 January, 1975, in Aid of the Lord Mayor’s Fund for Birmingham Bomb Victims.

The Birmingham Pub Bombings had taken place on the night of Thursday 21 November, 1974.

The show, organised by Mr. Leonard Mathews, senior resident Director of ATV Network Ltd, and others, was advertised only once in the Birmingham Mail on 02 January, 1975, so it must have achieved a full house. Moss Empires, the then owners of the Hippodrome, was a subsidiary of ATV, whose Chairman, Sir (later Lord) Lew Grade attended the show together with his wife, Lady Grade.

The Guest of Honour was the Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, who was greeted in the foyer by Lew Grade and the Lord Mayor Councillor James Eames.

The cast of the show was as follows:-

  • Frankie Vaughan
  • Bob Monkhouse
  • Stan Stennett
  • Cyril Fletcher
  • Noele Gordon
  • Alan Randall
  • Carl Wayne
  • Lance Percival
  • Dianne Darbey
  • The Denys Palmer Dancers
  • Johnny Patrick and His Orchestra

The show started at 19:30 and ticket prices were £10, £5 and £2.

Among the audience were those involved in the emergency response on the night in November – police, fire, hospital and taxi services. Before taking his seat, Harold Wilson spoke briefly to some of the nurses and taxi drivers who had helped. He also met the Licensees of the two pubs involved: Mr. David Jones and his wife Maura of the Mulberry Bush (at the foot of the Rotunda); and Mr. Richard Law and his wife Beryl of the Tavern in the Town in New Street, near the Odeon Cinema.

There was strict security inside and outside the theatre and detectives were among the crowds who had waited in the foyer for Mr. Wilson’s arrival.

Lew Grade offered the Prime Minister one of his famous large cigars before the show – even though Harold Wilson was an equally famous pipe-smoker!

After the show, he went back-stage to meet the stars, who had all given their services free.  The show was expected to raise £15,000 for the Lord Mayor’s Appeal Fund.

The musical backing was by the Johnny Patrick Orchestra – he was a Birmingham musician and bandleader and his wife, Brenda Scott, was a well-known Birmingham singer.

The Pantomime currently playing at the Hippodrome at that time was “Aladdin”, starring Larry Grayson, Alfred Marks and Dilys Watling.

Larry was famous for being a bit scatty, as well as hilariously camp, and his car had been involved in an accident just before Christmas. He himself did not drive and had no intention of learning but, on the advice of his friend Noele Gordon (who was in the Charity Show), he decided to reward himself for his long and hard work in rising to the top-of-the-bill. For years, he had toured the No.2 and No.3 theatre circuits and had won success relatively late in his career.

Early in January, 1975, Larry bought his first Rolls Royce from P. J. Evans’ John Bright Street showroom near the Alexandra Theatre – about a five-minute walk from the Hippodrome. Just as well, since he could not drive it! He did, of course, employ a chauffeur.

Article researched and written by Heritage volunteer, Ivan Heard