Healy's hero Bobby called up for action

Tim Healy is taking time out from his month-long run on the Edinburgh Fringe tonight to share the stage with one of his comedy heroes.

Tim Healy is taking time out from his month-long run on the Edinburgh Fringe tonight to share the stage with one of his comedy heroes.

The Customs House will play host to the Geordie actor and veteran North-East comic, Bobby Knoxall for Midsummer Mirth, which basically translates to an evening of laughter and story-telling.

The performance is being filmed and makes up part of a series of similar events, collectively called, Healy's Heroes.

"We're doing a few of these," explains Tim, "I've already done one with Alan Snell, and now there'll be Bobby too. I would have loved to do one with Spike (Rawlings, the popular comedian who died earlier this year) too, but sadly it wasn't to be.

"It's basically me sharing a stage with all the comics I looked up to when I was a lad."

Tim famously started out as a stand-up comedian back in the 1970s and also put in a stint as a court jester at Langley Castle before embarking on a string of theatre roles and, of course, the unforgettable Dennis in Auf Wiedersehen, Pet.

"Bobby will be doing his thing he's a very funny guy and then I'll be telling a few gags, doing a couple of numbers, telling some stories from my career and then throwing the theatre open for a question and answer session. They can ask me anything there'll be no plants in there."

Although it may have been a while since Tim strode out on to the stand-up stage, it's fair to assume that his latest role north of the border, will have somewhat prepared him for a lonesome spotlight.

"It's a one-man show. I was a stand-up comedian for seven years in the clubs but I've never done anything like this. It's basically an hour - just me.

"I've got five stars over the door now," he proudly announces, referring to the Gilded Balloon venue playing host to the show, "and you don't see many of them so it couldn't be going any better really. We got a cracking review last night and people are packing in and seem to like it when they get here, which is the main thing."

In Twinkle Little Star, Tim plays gay pantomime dame, Harold Thropp who has become disillusioned with what has happened to the business he once loved.

"It's a one-man show and I've always wanted to do one. The script arrived and I thought, `It's great, this'. But it's quite a challenge for me because it's not someone you'd expect me to play - a gay man who's been a panto dame all his life."

The piece was written by Emmerdale writer (and fellow North-Easterner) Philip Meeks - brother of former Emmerdale star, Dale. "It's like anything really - a script arrives and sometimes it comes alive off the page. This one did and I also thought it was quite funny. It's got that old quality: make 'em laugh, make 'em cry. But it really is a good challenge for me. I've been spoilt over the last few years and I wanted something to get my teeth into. "

* Midsummer Mirth with Tim Healy and Bobby Knoxall plays The Customs House, South Shields tonight [tues]. For tickets, call (0191) 454-1234.

* Twinkle Little Star runs until August 28. For tickets, call (0131) 668-1633 or visit www.gildedballoon.co.uk

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