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Redcoats Who Made The Big Time Back

Jimmy Tarbuck

Written by Rocky Mason

Jimmy, the son of a bookmaker, was born in Liverpool on 6th February 1940. He left school at fifteen and started work as a garage mechanic but he was sacked from this and many subsequent jobs for 'fooling around'. At 18 he joined a touring Rock 'n' Roll show which was his first step on the show business ladder.

The talented Jimmy Tarbuck, first became a Redcoat at Butlins Ocean hotel, Brighton, in April 1961. Where not only were his comedy talents used on Redcoat shows and cabarets, but Jim also organized snooker, darts and table tennis competitions, occasionally taking guests on Sunday morning rambles. It wasn't entirely Jimmy's comedy talent that made him a good Redcoat, he also had that most essential quality; a genuine love for people. He enjoyed mixing and mingling with the visitors in the ballroom, coffee bars and around the hotel in general.

The following summer Jimmy was moved to Pwllheli camp, in north Wales, as a Redcoat compere. The director of entertainment, Colonel Basil Brown, paid a visit early in the season and, after seeing Jimmy's performance in the Redcoat show and being somewhat bemused by Jim's Liverpool accent, made the observation. "That young man could be a good comedian, if he could only speak the Queen's English" Butlins wanted to transfer Jimmy to Cliftonville, but he was unhappy about this and chose to leave.

Shortly after leaving Butlins and at just 22 he was spotted by Val Parnell and made his TV debut on Comedy Bandbox. He made several guest appearances on Sunday Night at the London Palladium until he became the resident compere in 1965. He was soon headlining the top variety shows throughout the country as well as appearing frequently at London's Talk of the Town, other hit TV series rapidly followed. The highly popular 'Jimmy Tarbuck Show' and 'It's Tarbuck' for ATV. This was soon followed by his own Television game show 'Winner Takes All'. Numerous other successful shows followed including TV special's 'An Audience With' Jimmy also made numerous appearances on 'The Parkinson Show' and had the honour of being the subject on 'This Is Your life'.

Jimmy, who readily and happily admits in my book that Butlins is the greatest launching pad ever for 'wannabe' talent, was awarded the top Variety Club of Great Britain Award of Showbusiness Personality of The Year and has been made an Officer of the most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem for his charity work.

In 1995 as a direct result of 'An Audience With…,' London Weekend Television presented Jimmy in a late night talk show series entitled 'Tarbuck Late'

Jimmy has written several books and has also found time to make a comedy golf video entitled 'Jimmy Tarbuck's Nightmare Golf Holes'.

Jimmy Tarbuck who, in Colonel Brown's words, "Could be a good comic if only he could speak the Queen's English!" was also awarded the coveted Ivor Spencer After-Dinner Speaker Award!!

Yes indeed, you have come a long way Jim since you first donned the red jacket - and you've made a lot of other young people proud to be Butlin Redcoats.

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