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Comedian Jimmy Cricket on his favourite things

By Kerry McKittrick

The comedian (69), who is originally from Cookstown, now lives in Rochdale, England, and has four grown-up children. He will be appearing in You Must Be Joking at the Grand Opera House, Belfast later this month.

My best moment

That has to be meeting my wife all those years ago. We met in a Pontin’s holiday camp in England. She was over from Belfast working as a waitress with her sister and I was hosting as a blue coat. I was about 26 and I started chatting to her when I heard an accent from home.

My best gift

I got a pair of concrete Wellingtons from fellow comedian Ken Dodd on my 50th birthday. There’s a bit of a story with them as we kept them in the garden and someone stole them last year — it made the headlines in the local paper.

It all worked out ok in the end, though, as I ended up doing a gig about a year later and discovered Ken was playing the same venue shortly after. We bought a new pair on eBay and Ken signed them for us. We keep these ones inside now, though.

My best song

I love musicals and am a real anorak about them. There was one that came out in the Sixties called Finian’s Rainbow. It was about a man, played by Fred Astaire, and his daughter, played by Petula Clark, and they were granted three wishes by a leprechaun. There were quite a few lovely songs from it but my favourite is Look To The Rainbow.

My best way to relax

In Rochdale there’s a place called the Healey Nature Reserve and we have a cottage above it. It’s a wonderful place with trees and waterfalls and it’s a lovely spot to go and relax. It takes you away from the hurly-burly of it all.

My best job

Before I went on stage I did as little as possible — I was a total under-achiever. I worked in a box-making factory on the Ormeau Road, in Belfast, and then I was a board marker in a bookies. In showbiz one of the nicest things I ever did, though, was a show on Radio 2 in the Nineties called Jimmy’s Cricket Team. We had some great people working on it, like the guy who wrote the Morecambe and Wise Christmas show.

It gets repeated every now and again and people still email me and tell me how much they enjoy it. It’s a lovely legacy.

My best advice

It’s a quote actually: “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift.” I thought it was from Eleanor Roosevelt but it actually comes from a poem by the American author Alice Morse Earle. It’s a nice motto to live by.

My best achievement

That has to be having the kids — Dale, Jamie, Frankie and Katie. Katie has gone into stand-up too now. I both encouraged her and tried to put her off. The first time I saw her on stage, though, I bawled my eyes out. It was very emotional.

My best buy

It was when I was starting off in the cabaret and working men’s clubs. I needed a car to get me round and I had three that were absolutely useless. Then I paid £130 for a Triumph 2000. For one of my first gigs I drove from Manchester to Cardiff and it was incredible. It lasted for three years and the parting was quite nostalgic.

My best book

I love autobiographies and at the moment I’m reading the autobiography of Oscar Hammerstein, of Rodgers and Hammerstein fame. It’s called Getting To Know Him and it’s a great story

My best film

That is On The Waterfront. Marlon Brando redefined screen acting as Terry Malloy, and the cast around him was also astounding — Rod Steiger as his brother, Lee J Cobb as the mob leader, Karl Malden as the priest and Eva Marie Saint, all of them directed by Elia Kazan. It's beautiful from start to finish

  • Jimmy is appearing with May McFetridge, Gene Fitzpatrick and William Caulfield at Grand Opera House, Belfast, Jan 28. For details visit www.goh.co.uk

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