Interview with Jimmy Tarbuck ahead of his Felixstowe show

Jimmy Tarbuck is performing at The Spa Pavilion, Felixstowe.

Jimmy Tarbuck is performing at The Spa Pavilion, Felixstowe. - Credit: Submitted photo.

As The Queen celebrates 70 years on the throne, Jimmy Tarbuck – who has met her many times - is marking 60 years in showbusiness with a special show in Suffolk. Rachel Banham reports.

The love of performing has never left Jimmy Tarbuck. He enjoys life on stage as much as he ever did and his conversation is peppered with fond mentions of his many fellow performers, who were also his friends.
Jimmy will share his memories at The Spa Pavilion, Felixstowe, on June 11. The show will feature footage from throughout his career, from going to school with John Lennon to playing golf with Bing Crosby. 
The audience, Jimmy hopes, can expect “laughter and memories”.
“I’m looking forward to it. I like the theatre very much,” he says.
“As you can imagine, there are several down that coast that I like.”
Jimmy, who appeared in summer season at The Spa Pavilion 39 years ago, will be happy to answer questions from the audience too.
He is a patron of Gorleston Pavilion Theatre in Norfolk and has performed at venues across East Anglia many times.
“It’s a gentle place and I like that,” he says.
“If you’re lucky enough to go out on a boat on the Broads, how lucky can you get? It’s just a very, very nice place.
“Great Yarmouth - I did several shows there with Mike and Bernie Winters and Matt Monro, and I got the news that my son had been born there,” he says.

Jimmy Tarbuck and friends on the beach at Felixstowe in August 1980. Photo 75207 

Jimmy Tarbuck and friends on the beach at Felixstowe in August 1980. Photo 75207 - Credit: Archant Library

Jimmy was preparing for a show in Yarmouth in August 2017 when he heard that his friend Sir Bruce Forsyth had died.
“I got told just before I went on,” he recalls.
“I said: ‘Good evening, before we start this is dedicated to one man’ and I just said: ‘Nice to see you’ and the whole audience went: ‘To see you nice’. 
“He had a big spot in my heart, in my career. He introduced me the first time at the Palladium, Sunday Night at the Palladium, in 1963, and he was kind of a lucky guy for me. 
“And Les Dawson was another one. They were good guys to work with and I always seemed to do well with them. They were happy days.”
A memory that really stands out for Jimmy is meeting The Queen. 
She acceded to the throne on February 6, 1952, Jimmy’s 12th birthday.
He recalls the first time he met her, at The Royal Variety Performance. 
“It was in 1964 and I shared a dressing room that night at the Palladium, my beautiful Palladium, the most famous theatre in the world, with Eric Morecambe and Tommy Cooper,” he says.
“When it was my turn to go on to do my spot, Eric and Tommy came to the wings to wish me luck and Eric Morecambe just said to me: ‘You’ve got something son. Don’t ask what it is, just do it and take your time. It’s not a rush.’ 
“And it was great – another great memory for me. I’m very fortunate like that. I’ve worked with heroes and I’ve met heroes from all parts of life, but especially all parts of showbusiness."

Jimmy Tarbuck at the Buttermarket, Ipswich, in May 1966 when he was in town to open the Limmers Restaurant.

Jimmy Tarbuck attracted a large crowd to the Buttermarket, Ipswich, in May 1966 when he was in town to open the Limmers Restaurant. - Credit: Photo by Dave Kindred/Archant.


Jimmy recalls how beautifully dressed and “just charming” The Queen was.
“She’s very well informed on things and about life,” he says.
“She’s done a great job for our country. Aren’t we lucky to have her and still have her?
“I’ve met her in Liverpool on several occasions, Leeds, Manchester, London on many, many occasions, and the thrill that (my wife) Pauline and I were invited for a meal at Buckingham Palace with her. That was just wonderful, just being sat there, making sure you picked the right knife and fork up.” 
Jimmy was delighted to perform in front of The Queen at the 100th Royal Variety Performance in 2012 at the Royal Albert Hall.
“That was the most special one of all the Royal shows because they put four of us on together. There was little Ronnie Corbett, the famed Des O’Connor, Bruce Forsyth and Liverpool’s Jimmy Tarbuck,” he recalls.
“It was the first time we had all worked together on the same night and it was coming down to the finale and the four of us were in the corridor waiting to go on, where you take your bow and then you meet her.
“I said to the three of them, ‘Let’s enjoy this, lads, because it will never happen again’. The four of us walked down together and the applause was so gratifying, it was wonderful. 
“And we all just looked at each other and went: ‘This is marvellous. This is what it’s all about.’ It was just a lovely evening.”
While they were waiting to meet The Queen, Jimmy shared a joke with the late Ronnie Corbett.
He recalls: “We’re all in the line-up, and she’s shaking hands, and I said: ‘Little man’. He said: ‘Yes, Jim.’ 
“I said: ‘Don’t bow too low - she won’t see you’. Well, he told me to go away in no uncertain terms! And we all laughed about it.”
Jimmy says he has had “a very happy career” and he is amazed that it has taken him all over the world to appreciative audiences.
“I’m enjoying it more than ever and as long as I’m granted good health I’ll do it,” he says.
“It’s a nice relief to get up there on the stage and have them laughing with us and, dear Lord, they’ve been doing it for 60 years with me. I appreciate it immensely.”
Jimmy Tarbuck ‘A Life in Showbusiness’ is at The Spa Pavilion, Felixstowe, on June 11. To book, call 01394 284962 or visit: https://www.thelittleboxoffice.com/spapavilion/event/view/155381

Jimmy Tarbuck features in the June 2022 issue of Let's Talk magazine.

Jimmy Tarbuck features in the June 2022 issue of Let's Talk magazine. - Credit: Archant