Danny Ross – British Comedy Actor

Danny Ross was a British comedian most notably remembered for his role alongside Jimmy Clitheroe in the long running BBC Radio comedy show “The Clitheroe Kid” (1957–1973).

Danny Ross as Alfie Hall – brilliant character.

Danny Ross played the part of “Alfie Hall”, the dim witted, largely unintelligent and mismatched boyfriend of Jimmy’s posh sister “Susan” (Diana Day). Alfie Hall was a name Danny Ross had used prior to “The Clitheroe Kid”, including during a television series in 1956 entitled “I’m Not Bothered…” which followed the exploits of milkman “Alf Hall” and his stuttering mate, “Wally Binns” (Glenn Melvyn). The phrase “I’m not bothered…” was occasionally used by Danny Ross in The Clitheroe Kid as a catchphrase, in indecisive (but not unfriendly) responses when given a decision by girlfriend “Susan”.

Danny had made his reputation in comedy by starring alongside Arthur Askey and Glenn Melvyn in “The Love Match” – a hit stage comedy presented in Blackpool during 1953, that lead to the spin-off TV series “Love and Kisses”. He had also starred in the George Formby role in the revival of the stage musical “Zip Goes a Million”, and later made a pop record of Formby’s hit song “The Old Bazaar in Cairo”.

The Love Match

The Love Match is a 1955 British comedy film directed by David Paltenghi and starring Arthur Askey, Glenn Melvyn, Thora Hird and Shirley EatonTwo football-mad railway engine drivers are desperate to get back in time to see a football match.

Above: Arthur Askey and  Glenn Melvyn

It was based on a play by Glenn Melvyn.

Also in the cast was the famouse comedian Rob Wilton  who played ‘shall we say’ a very unconvential magistrate.

Two football mad railway workers get into trouble after racing their engine home to get to a football match in time. Look out for Danny Ross, he’s brilliant in this film. also the gorgeous Shirley Eaton.

Danny Ross was a rare talent and often stole the limelight in the Jimmy Clitheroe radio shows.
Danny unfortunately had suffered with heart problems during his short life.

Danny Ross was born in Oldham, Lancashire, England in 1931. He was taken ill on New Year’s Day 1976, en route to London with his manager to arrange a new show. He died of a heart attack, aged just 45, at Blackpool’s Victoria Hospital six weeks later.  He was only 45
Danny had lived in Warley Road, Blackpool which was situated just around the corner from where Jimmy Clitheroe and his mother lived in Bispham Road.
Both Danny and Jimmy were cremated and their ashes scattered at Carlton Cemetery, Blackpool – again close to one another.

                                               Danny Ross

(1931-1976) Born in Oldham in 1931, the Lancashire comedian Danny Ross became most famous on radio, playing “daft Alfie” alongside Jimmy Clitheroe (above) in the long-running BBC radio comedy series “The Clitheroe Kid”.He was originally a stage actor. His first professional job was at Oldham Repertory Theatre as a 14-year-old character juvenile. After national service he resumed acting and his qualities as a comic actor gained recognition playing alongside Arthur Askey and Glenn Melvyn in the hit stage comedy “The Love Match”, the 1953 summer show at Blackpool Grand. Its subsequent tour brought him his first West End appearance. He later returned to the Grand for five very successful summer seasons with Glenn Melvyn, including a record-breaking run in the comedy “Friends and Neighbours” in 1959. The association with Arthur Askey led him into movies with the 1955 film version of “The Love Match” in which all the stage cast appeared in their original roles. He went on to appear with Arthur Askey in two further films, “Ramsbottom Rides Again” in 1956 (a spoof of the film ‘Destry Rides Again’), and the film version of “Friends and Neighbours” in 1959. But he’s best remembered for his 13-year radio partnership with Jimmy Clitheroe, which began in 1960. He was invited to join the established cast of “The Clitheroe Kid”, which was made in Manchester. As gormless Alfie Hall, he played the boyfriend of Jimmy’s sister, and the butt of endless jokes. For five years he also played a similar role on television, in Jimmy’s ITV comedy series “Just Jimmy”, which began in 1964. Danny Ross was always billed in the theatre as “the Oldham Comedian”. In appearance and comic style, he owed something to George Formby, an association which he fostered by performing songs associated with Formby, and appearing in the Formby role in a revival of the stage comedy “Zip Goes a Million”. When he made a pop record he included a Formby number, “The Old Bazaar in Cairo”, on the B-side. After the final television series ended in 1968, he returned to the theatre, playing in summer shows and pantomime in and around Lancashire. His radio work with Jimmy Clitheroe continued until his the latter’s death in 1973. Danny Ross was taken ill on New Year’s Day 1976, en route to London with his manager to arrange a new show. He died of a heart attack, aged just 45, at Blackpool’s Victoria Hospital six weeks later.

The Clitheroe Kid

THIRTY years after the death of one of radio’s biggest stars, described as ‘the eternal schoolboy’, co-star and ‘radio sister’ Diana Day remembers the Clitheroe Kid.

Jimmy Clitheroe, Diana Day and Danny Ross in The Clitheroe Kid 

Fondly known to thousands as Susan ‘scraggy neck’, Herefordshire-born Diana Day spent more than 16 years making the trek to Manchester every Sunday to perform alongside Jimmy Clitheroe.

The former child star’s big break came at the age of 12 when she appeared as Jackie, leader of the fourth form in the 1954 film, ‘the Belles of St Trinians’ with Alistair Sim and George Cole.

Diana Day in the 1954 film, ‘the Belles of St Trinians’ – above

Now known as Diana Jager and living in Herefrod, she has spoken about the very private man who was the inspiration for performers such as the Krankies and slapstick situation comedy based on the  ‘carry-on’ style.

Describing her co-star’s wit and style very much as ‘that lovely North country humour’ Diana remembered auditioning for the radio series by sight-reading a script with Jimmy.

She berated herself all the way home because she thought that she had ‘blown it’ but to all involved, it was obvious there was a spark between the pair.

“Jimmy was a super person – he was lovely, we got on very well and he, Danny (Danny Ross, who played Susan’s boyfriend, Alfie) and I were terrible gigglers.

“One of the scripts would start going and sometimes it would be so difficult to stop,” Diana laughed.

She explained how producer, Jim Casey would have to stop them all for a tea-break because they found the show so funny.

She added: “We worked together for 16 years so in the end it almost felt like we were a family.”

Not only was Jimmy the godfather of Diana’s daughter Melanie, he also attended various functions with the family.

Once, when Diana’s son Nicholas was still a boy and the same size as Jimmy (who never grew taller than 4’3″) he admired Nicholas’ suit and asked if he could pass it on when he’d finished with it!

Dreadful news

Diana was on a cruise in the Mediterranean when she heard the shocking news of her friend’s death in 1973.

He was found unconscious on the morning of his mother’s funeral and died the same day. An inquest concluded it was due to an accidental overdose of sleeping pills.

“He must have been so down,” Diana said. “A few years before he lost his friend and assistant Sally who died in a car crash.”

She explained Sally would chauffeur Jimmy around because he got so fed up being stopped by police.

“One of the last times I saw him was in pantomime in Bristol, I could see he was nervous. He dragged me on stage and he would not let go of my hand.

“I could feel he was quite needy. Life in show business is quite lonely. His mother was always in his life – she was so important to him,” said Diana.

Now after nearly 30 years out of the spotlight, Diana hopes to get back into acting and with the prospect of a part in a re-make of the St Trinians’ film, Diana appears to have come a full circle.

But she will never forget her ‘radio’ brother who ‘tormented’ her for so many years.  So much so she named her youngest son James after the Clitheroe Kid.

Diana Day

Diana Day is probably best known as Susan, the long-suffering ‘sister’ of The Clitheroe Kid (Jimmy Clitheroe) in the long-running BBC Radio comedy series which ran from 1958 until 1972. Susan was sometimes referred to by her ‘brother’ Jimmy as ‘scraggy neck’! At its height The Clitheroe Kid boasted 10 million listeners per episode, and can still be heard occasionally on BBC Radio 4 Extra.

For more then 16 years Diana made the weekly journey from her home in Hereford to Manchester for the recording of The Clitheroe Kid.

Diana was born in 1941, she made her television acting debut in 1953, in we believe the BBC production entitled The Christmas Service Show which also features Benny Hill, Beryl Reid and Shirley Abicair. In 1954 Diana appears as Kate Channing in the short-lived BBC television serial The Windmill Family which ran for just 5 episodes of 30 minutes duration.

In 1958 Diana stars in two television series; as Beth in Good Wives and as Beth March in Little Women.

Diana’s film appearances include: The Belles of St. Trinian’s  as Jackie (1954), The Stolen Airliner  as Anne (1955,) , The Secret of the Forest, as Mary (1956), The Story of Esther Costello, as Christine Brown (1957). The Rise and Rise of Cesar Birotteau, as Claudine (1965, BBC TV movie).

 

 

posted by Movieman in Uncategorized and have Comments (4)

4 Responses to “Danny Ross – British Comedy Actor”

  1. There is a page dedicated to Danny Ross on the Jimmy Clitheroe website at http://www.JimmyClitheroe.co.uk/cast.htm#DannyRoss

    • Movieman says:

      Stephen,
      Thanks very much for this information which I have had a look at. I knew of The Love Match – a film we have loved for years – and my children who are now grown up and my brothers family also are great fans of this film. Danny Ross was great in this as was Glenn Melvyn but of course it was the lively Arthur Askey who carried the film really. You may have seen my later post of the likeness between Danny Ross and Sami Nasri the Manchester City footballer. Every time I see Sami Nasri on TV I think its is Danny Ross they are uncannily alike. What do you think ? Thanks again. Neil

  2. John Ward says:

    ‘The Old Bazaar in Cairo’ is not a George Formby number but was written by Clinton Ford, Charlie Chester and Glenn Morris. Clinton Ford sung it in the first instance – I have a copy – and Danny sung it on an E P 45RPM record called simply ‘Danny Ross’ which I brought recently, Jan 2017, never been played, together with ‘Letter of Love’, ‘Take Me to your Heart again’ and ‘Stop & Shop at the Co-op Shop’

    • Movieman says:

      John, Looking that up you are right about that particular song not being a George Formby original although it sounds like it might have been. Clinton Ford was often on Saturday Club with Brian Matthew years ago – Clinton Ford and the EasyBeats and he had a hit with Old Shep and also sang a George Formby song Fanlight Fanny I remember. As for Danny Ross, for reasons I cannot explain, for all the Post I have put onto this Filmsofthefifties site, the one with him gets more hits than any other. I remember him well from the Arthur Askey Film The Love Match where he won the heart of the beautiful Shirley Eaton. That is a really good and funny film. Neil

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