27 January 2022

Barry Cryer regularly returned to theatre where he first performed in 1956

27 January 2022

Veteran comedian Barry Cryer had a “soft spot” for the theatre where he first performed in 1956, returning regularly over the years.

Cryer, who wrote for legends of British comedy including Ronnie Barker, Ronnie Corbett, Sir Billy Connolly and Tommy Cooper, has died aged 86.

The Leeds-born performer had a seven-decade career and was made an OBE in 2001 – but never forgot his roots.

A poster advertising Barry Cryer appearing at his first show in 1956 (Leeds Library and Information Services/Playbills Collection/PA) (PA Media)

Amy Sanderson, head of communications for City Varieties Music Hall in Leeds, told the PA news agency: “Barry had his first-ever paid gig at City Varieties in 1956, so it was the first paid job he ever had, so I think he had a real soft spot for the place.

“He was from Leeds and he went to City Varieties as a child, so it was an important part of his life from quite young. It is something he always held very dear.

“He was always very vocal about supporting us.”

Cryer returned to the music hall regularly and “was a big part” of the BBC entertainment programme The Good Old Days where he performed “at least nine times,” Sanderson recalled.

He was someone who remembered places that had been special to him

He was someone who remembered places that had been special to him

“He has been back a few times, mostly doing solo stuff talking about his life or doing some comedy, but he has had a long history ever since his first gig. He has been a presence throughout.

“I think anyone who has ever met him just thinks he was lovely. He’s one of those people where I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone have a bad word about him.

“I think he was one of those performers, comedians that was genuinely a nice person and was nice to everybody. It doesn’t matter where you were within the theatre; he would have a chat, tell a joke, and have a laugh. (He was) a genuinely nice person to have around.

“He was so funny. He was someone who remembered places that had been special to him.”

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