The Nignog Revue
Feature from 2008Re-Creation of the newspaper article from April 1977:
HAROLD'S HAD A FUNNY LIFE
It is generally accepted that sales representatives need a good sense of humour, and in that respect, Harold Gilderdale is in a class of his own.
For Harold, now “tall, good looking, with glasses”, once appeared as a comedian on the same bill as another funny man, now better known on television for his “short fat, hairy legs.”
In case you have still not guessed, Harold, who was part of a comedy double act, was on the same bill as Ernie Wise, then going under the name Ernest Wiseman.
“I can always remember Ernie because his hands and face were scrubbed sop clean that they almost shone”, said Harold. “And his flair for comedy was blatantly obvious.”
Also on the same bill in 1937 at the Alhambra Theatre, Bradford, where they all appearing as teenagers, was playwright and actor Leslie Sands, whom Harold remembers as being a very studious figure, even in those early days.
Harold, who worked as a professional comedian for about 12 months during the war, has another claim to fame in that he is a second cousin to Peter Sellers.
“Peter’s father was the brother of one of my uncles,” Harold explained, “And I used to hear quite a lot from him until about 15 years ago.”
“When I knew him he was still trying to make a name for himself and, having worked on stage for sometime myself, I used to try and give him advice and tell him about my experience. But I don’t suppose he needed much help.”
Harold went on the stage at the age of seven, when he appeared in a charity show at the Princess Theatre, Bradford, organised by the local newspaper.
Harold then began doing weekend work in various concerts, under the stage name Hal Dale.
In 1943, he turned professional, doing impressions and a comedy routine, following a successful audition for a touring show which starred Renee Houston.
At this time Renee Houston was appearing in films and Harold did a little work as an extra in the film “English Without Tears,” starring Michael Wilding and Lilli Palmer.
“I was playing a Dutch Air Force officer and was paid five guineas to laugh in one short sequence.”
Harold, who retired from the stage about 10 years ago, having worked mainly as a semi-professional, said: “It is always nice to look back on and I would not have missed it for anything. It was a marvellous experience.”
Now Harold, who is in his second spell with Airedale Varnish, is hoping to arrange a reunion with Ernie Wise when the latter appears in Bradford with Eric Morecambe in June.
“I don’t know whether he would remember me, although I have a copy of a rhyme he once wrote for me years ago.”
It seems that Ernie was an aspiring writer even in those days!
© morecambeandwise.com 2008