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Entertainment & Competition Sections
Glamorous Grandmother | Holiday Princess | Keep Fit Display Teams | Miss Lovely Legs | Miss She
Show Jumping at Butlins | List of Post War Entertainment Managers | The Push Button Click

Click here to see memories of the National Pentathlete Awards

In addition to the wealth of other activities, the Butlin camps always provided a huge range of organised entertainment both for children and adults. The schedule varied from day to day with all kinds of competitions, activities and shows running throughout the week. Strong but friendly rivalries were encouraged between the different dining rooms (known as "houses") and this resulted in various inter-house competitions which culminated in grand finals held at the end of each week. Below is a mind-boggling typical days schedule from the Pwllheli camp in the heyday years of the 1950s (in this case, Monday 29th August 1955).

7.30 and 8.30 - Holy Communion in the Camp Chapel
10.00 to 10.30 - Fun and Games on the Playing Field
10.00 to 10.30 - Dancing Instruction (Modern) in the Viennese Ballroom
10.00 to 11.00 - Modern & American Square Dancing in the Montgomery Ballroom
10.00 to 1.15 - Tombola in the Marquee
10.00 and 11.00 - Football Practice on the Football Field
10.00 to 12.00 - Philishave Shaving Competition in the Pool Sun Lounge
10.00 to 10.30 - Light Hearted Exercise on the Green to Music
10.15 to 1.00 - Dancing Instruction (Old Time) in the Old Time Ballroom
10.30 to 11.00 - Car Owners Meeting in the Viennese Bar
10.30 to 12.00 - Bike Hike to Criccieth
10.30 to 12.00 - Morning Stroll over the Headland. Meet at the Rink
10.30 to 11.00 - Music While You Play on the Playing Field
10.45 to 11.45 - Coffee Dance in the Viennese Ballroom
11.00 to 11.30 - Campers Concert & Talent Competition in the Viennese Bar
11.00 to 11.45 - Dancing Instruction (Formation) in the Old Time Ballroom
11.00 and 12.00 - Netball Practice on the West Playing Field
11.30 to 1.30 - Music In The Bars
11.30 to 12.00 - American Square Dancing in the Viennese Ballroom
12.15 to 1.15 - Leslie Douglas & his Orchestra in the Viennese Bar
12.15 to 1.15 - Twenty Questions in the Quiet Lounge Kent Block
12.15 to 1.15 - Anne's Request Hour in the Montgomery Ballroom
2.00 to 2.30 - House Captains Choice. Decca Record programme from Radio Butlin
2.00 to 5.00 - Philishave Competition in the Sun Lounge
2.00 to 4.30 - Ramble over the Headland. Meet at the swimming pool
2.30 to 4.00 - Butlin Car Club Rally. Meet at North Camp Car Park
2.30 to 4.30 - Mystery Bike Hike. Meet at the cycle store
2.30 to 4.30 - Kiddies Holiday Lovelies & Bonnie Babies in the Montgomery Ballroom
2.30 to 3.30 - Professional Wrestling in the Marquee
2.30 and 3.30 - Basketball Practice on the Playing Field
3.00 to 4.30 - Whist Drive in the Quiet Lounge Kent Block
3.00 to 5.00 - Tea Dance with Leslie Douglas in the Viennese Ballroom
3.30 to 5.00 - Old Time Dancing in the Old Time Ballroom
3.30 Holiday Princess Competition. Inter-House finals
3.30 to 6.30 - Tombola in the Marquee
3.30 to 4.30 - Rink Hockey Trials on the Rink
3.30 and 4.30 - Billiards Practice in the Billiard Room
4.00 to 5.00 - Tea Dance to the Sam Ross Trio. Montgomery Ballroom
5.00 to 5.30 - Campers Choice. Record request programme from Radio Butlin
5.00 to 5.30 - Finals of the Glamorous Grandmother Competition in the Montgomery Ballroom
6.45 to 7.45 - Twenty Questions in the Quiet Lounge Kent Block
7.00 to 8.10 - Sunshine Parade presented by your Resident Revue Company. Princes Theatre
7.30 to 8.30 - Professional Wrestling in the Marquee
7.30 to 10.15 - Sing Song in the Bars
8.00 to 11.15 - Dancing Time. Leslie Douglas and his Orchestra in the Viennese Ballroom
8.00 to 9.45 - Comedy Show in the Regency Theatre
8.00 to 11.15 - Dancing Time with Sam Ross in the Montgomery Ballroom
8.15 to 11.15 - Old Time Dancing in the Old Time Ballroom
8.30 to 11.15 - Tombola in the Marquee
8.30 to 9.40 - Sunshine Parade presented by your Resident Revue Company. Princes Theatre
9.00 to 10.15 - Whist Drive in Reception
9.00 to 10.00 - Old Time Music Hall in the Regency Bar
10.30 to 11.30 - Pot Luck Show. Scott Handley in the Princes Theatre
10.30 to 11.30 - Lucky Dip Show with George. Regency Theatre
11.15 - Goodnight Campers

Some of the other activities which were available later in the same week included:

* Holiday Princess & Miss She Competitions
* Football, Basketball, Tennis, Table Tennis, Bowls, Hockey, Putting, Snooker, Billiards, Darts,
Swimming and Netball practice, with competitions later in the week
* The Sunsilk Hair Competition
* Boy with the Best Physique Competition
* Miss Venus & Tarzan Competition
* Know your Highway Code Competition
* The Lux Competition (Girl with the Best Cared For Complexion)
* Rizla Cigarette Rolling Competition
* Knobbly Knees Competition
* Yo-Yo Demonstrations
* Melody Maker Singing Contest
* Fancy Dress Competitions
* Vogue Mannequin Parade
* Family Swimming Gala
* Golden & Silver Voice Competition

Competitions at Butlins were never "run of the mill" they were probably the wackiest and craziest ever invented but, however crazy, the emphasis was always on fun and that was had by the thousands and thousands of contestants who took part in some of the craziest competitions ever devised by anyone! The competitions ranged from the Princess Elizabeth and Marilyn Monroe look alike, snorer of the week, the shiniest bald head, the knobbly knees or the most ugly face competition or even who could eat a plate of chips the fastest!. One competition which was sponsored by Philishave entailed the male campers going to the Philishave counter situated in one of the camp shops every morning where they would be loaned a Philishave razor which they had to use in the shop to shave. The contents of the razor would be emptied out into an envelope and at the end of the week the winner would be the man with the most beard shavings in his envelope. There were many sponsored competitions like the one mentioned above. Rizla used to sponsor the cigarette rolling competition whilst Lux soap sponsored the loveliest complexion.

Butlin's Festivals of Dance and Movement

It all began in 1940 at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden with the Butlin's Professional Dance Championships which were organised by Captain J. Russell Pickering, a one time director of Butlin's. Many took part in the glittering one day event, but the war years prevented any further thought of official dance events. It was not until 1947 that Wilfred Orange supported by Billy Butlin and drawing on the knowledge of Philip J. Richardson, the Chairman of the Official Board of Ballroom Dancing, organised Butlin's first national Dance Competition. It was known as the National Veleta, now in its 49th year.

From 1947 to 1980 Wilfred Orange introduced Dance Competitions on behalf of Butlin's and laid the first foundations for competitive dance today. During the 1970's Roger Billington assisted in the administration of the Dance Festival Office eventually taking over the awesome task of the Butlin's National Dance Organiser on the retirement of Wilfred Orange.

Butlin's dance and movement events presently attracts over 70,000 dancers a year and features Highland, Disco and Freestyle, Ballroom and Latin, Sequence and Old Time, Ballet, Tap Modern, Majorettes, Western, Cheerleaders plus the world exclusive Carl-Alan awards.

The Butlin Startrail Talent Contest

Many aspiring performers saw the Butlin talent contests as a spring board for their talents. Mike Read, the famous comedian and star of the TV series "Eastenders", was runner up to the well known Liverpool comic Joey Kaye. Stan Boardman another well known Liverpool comedian who was also a TV regular and famous for his "Jarman" jokes about the Germans was the 1976 winner. The winners of the junior startrail were Les Dennis of TVs Family Fortunes and Catherine Zeta Jones winning the 6 to 9 years age group in 1978 and then the 9 to 14 age group in 1979.

Children's Entertainment

The children were well taken care of on their Butlin holiday for as well as a full programme of entertainment they also had their own competitions and shows. The children's entertainer performed the ever popular "Punch and Judy" show every day whilst their competitions included; The bonny baby show, Kiddies holiday lovelies, Fancy dress competitions and square dancing instruction. There were prizes for all the competitions and the points awarded counted towards the house cup making winning this cup a real family event! The "Butlin Beaver Club" was started in 1951 and was for all children 12 years and under. A small membership fee was paid and this included a badge, membership card and free birthday and Christmas cards. The "15 Club" was for all youngsters of 13, 14 or 15 years of age. Various new clubs appeared over the years including the "913 Club" (for children aged 9 to 13), "Wizzkids" (6 to 9 years) and "Teamsters" (9 to 12 years).

Click here to see the Beaver Book from 1974

Butlin Beavers Club Badge  Butlin Beavers Club Badge  Butlin Beavers Club Badge  Butlin Beavers 913 Club Badge

The following is a selection of children's activities taken from the same 1955 Pwllheli schedule as above:

Team Games
Boat trip to Seal Island
Punch & Judy
Junior Cinema
Panto Time
Grand March Past
Exercise to Music
Fun with Uncle George
Boating Regatta
Scavenger Hunt
Playtime in the Nursery
Various sporting activities and instruction
Various shows and plays in the theatres
Square Dancing
Children's Television
Treasure Hunt
Junior Concert

Butlins can boast of having had a great many wonderful children's entertainers over the years. Uncle Harry Manley at Filey, Ron De Maxim and Uncle Boko at Skegness, Martin Peters and Johnny Watson at Clacton, Billy St Clair at Bognor, Uncle Lenz at Minehead, Howard Peters at Bognor, Johnny Hayward at Pwllheli, to name but a few. All of them with their small team of Redcoats dedicated to the job of keeping the children entertained or pleasantly occupied whilst mum or dad had a break. Uncle Boko served at Skegness camp continuously for 21 years, Boko was an institution with Butlin's and took great pride in the fact that in his later years he was entertaining children who's parents he had entertained as children!. Uncle Boko's trademark was his Fez and he was never seen without it. His whole attitude to the children was beyond reproach and his shows were superb. Uncle Boko would never be seen having a glass of beer or anything else in a Butlin's bar. One other outstanding personality was Uncle Johnny Hayward and "Clarence the Rabbit", this little bunny certainly broke all records for receiving fan mail. There were at least twenty letters a week during the winter when the camp was closed and over one-hundred cards each Christmas. Clarence was a giant velvet rabbit and a great favourite with the children.

A variety of characters and shows have been created especially for Butlin's. These include The Peanut St Gang in the early 80's, followed by the Push Button Click at some camps and the Funnybone Gang at others between 1982 & 1987. Whizzy World was introduced in 1989 and ran through the 90's until the Skyline Pavilions were constructed and the Skyline Gang were introduced in the late 90's. Each Gang had it's own characters unique to Butlins who would entertain children with their own shows. It would be great to eventually have a page on this website for each of the various Gangs which have existed. So, if you have any information, memories or photos regarding these characters or, indeed, if you know of any others then please send us an e-mail.

Click here to see our Push Button Click section

Some of the above paragraphs extracted from the unpublished book "Follow the rainbow to Butlin's" by Paul Wray and Rocky Mason. Used with permission

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