Tonight’s edition of “The One Show” had a short article on the decline of that great British institution, the working men’s club.
Who better to host the piece than someone who had started their career there, “at the very bottom” so to speak, and gone on to reach the pinnacle of success… our very own Russell.
Describing the origins of these institutions as being more like ‘sports and social clubs’ founded by a teetotal minister of religion for the betterment of the working man, they fairly soon became all-male drinking places, more like private pubs. Women were only allowed in on special occasions until the introduction of modern sexual equality laws.
Russell took us first to the Blackpool Philharmonic WMC where he’d started some fifteen years ago and showed us his dressing room… a tiny space with no door, just a curtain, and a small electric fan heater perched on a sink – just hope this was a ‘reconstruction’ or the Blackpool Health & Safety folk could well be paying them a visit!
Moving on to another club, The Bloomfield, which was faring considerably better by broadening its social activities, and actually had a waiting list to join, Russell was shown a ledger that indicated he’d once been paid £125 for a performance there!
That was in 1997. Oh, that we could book him for that sort of money these days.
The rest of the piece explored the possibilities for reviving the fortunes of this type of club in the modern era by making them more appealing to the younger generation and, of course, Russell was all in favour. We should be, too, as long as the younger ones give us a go on their PS3 and they have a do at dominoes for a change! Anybody got a double to start?
Russell had Tweeted that he would be on “Look North West” this evening, too, but it was only a few seconds of footage taken from “The One Show” by way of advertising it, so if you didn’t see it, don’t worry, you didn’t miss anything.
However, even better, Russell’s management company, ROAR Global have made the report available to view from their own website. This means that fans outside the UK can watch it as it’s not subject to the usual TV regional viewing restrictions.
Watch Russell’s report, and a lot more besides, on ROAR Global.*
*No longer available.