Variety really is the spice of life for veteran comedian
Entertainer Roy Hudd is as enthusiastic about showbusiness as ever. As he prepares for a fundraising show in East Anglia, he tells Rachel Banham how much he loves the region.
Interviewing Roy Hudd is a bit like having a huge injection of cheerfulness and energy. Whether he’s speaking about performing, his beloved musical hall, or Suffolk, which he made his home some 15 years ago, he oozes positivity.
An Evening With Roy Hudd OBE takes place at the Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, on Sunday, May 27. Roy’s wife Debbie will interview him, as only she dares, and dig out some of the stories, songs and anecdotes from Roy’s 60 years in showbusiness. From variety, musicals, pantomime, stage, radio and television – Roy will tell all about his long career and will spill the beans on the legendary names he loves and admires ... and the others!
Roy and Debbie are kindly giving their time free to support the Theatre Royal. “I love that theatre,” Roy says. “You feel so close to the audience, it’s just marvellous. They’re lovely audiences there too – they love their theatre.”
Tickets are also available to join a private post-show reception with Roy and Debbie.
The evening follows a similar show which Roy and Debbie did at the Regal Theatre, Stowmarket, in April. That show raised funds for Cancer Research UK and Stowmarket ASD Saturday Club.
Roy, who is originally from London, and Debbie, who is originally from Blackpool, live near Stowmarket. Roy says they love the area.
“The people are great,” he says. “I was evacuated during the war to near Northampton and even though we were Londoners born and bred, I didn’t want to go back to London, I loved it in the country.
“And so all these years that we were living away in London both of us wanted to come back to the country because we both love it.”
Of Suffolk, he adds: “We never get tired of it. It’s just a beautiful county – marvellous people. It’s been a joy for both of us.
“I remember when we first moved here, driving back from London, as we passed ‘Welcome To Suffolk’ without any nudging each other or anything, both of us burst into a cheer – simultaneously, without even looking or saying. So that’s how much we like it.”
Roy recalls how it was the animal impressionist, and fellow Water Rat, the late Percy Edwards who recommended the county to him.
“I loved his accent and everything, it was real Suffolk,” Roy says. “He always used to say to me: ‘I’ve got to know you very well now, my dear, and I’m telling you Suffolk - that’s where you’d like to live’.
“And I never thought about it ever again until we got here and then I thought: ‘Oh, blimey, this is what
Percy wanted me to do!’”
Roy recalls the lovely holidays he has had on the Norfolk Broads, an area he describes as “just magic”.
In Suffolk, he likes Stowmarket and one of his favourite places is Needham Market which he says has “a terrific selection of real shops” and “a lovely atmosphere”.
He says: “The people who serve you in the shops are smashing. They care about people and it’s interesting to hear what other people get up to and their opinions on stuff.
“It’s a dear little market town, tiny but it’s got everything there. Everybody knows everybody ... it’s like a village really.”
Roy recently appeared on TV in Great Canal Journeys with actress Prunella Scales and actor Timothy West, which he describes as “terrific fun”.
“I did that from Yarmouth,” he recalls. “I’ve got very happy memories of Yarmouth - most happy summer seasons I’ve done with Frank Ifield and Mike Yarwood and all sorts of people over the years. I always enjoy playing there because they’re great audiences.”
He adds: “I’ve never got over the fact that anyone pays me for doing what I do anyway, because I enjoy it. When you’re working you should be doing something that you don’t particularly like, but they give you money – it’s not right
Roy Hudd, on the sunny side of the street.
Roy visiting The Gazette Bookshop in Bungay in 2009 to sign copies of his book.