THE CARROTT RETURNS
We nearly lost him but ‘The Carrott’ has now got a new lease of life and he is bringing his unique show to Norfolk in July. Derek James spoke to him.
Funnyman Jasper is back from the brink to make us laugh again
Ayear ago the future looked bleak for a man who has entertained us so well since the 1970s.
He was holidaying abroad before embarking on another tour when Jasper Carrott starting to feel unwell ... and this time around he wasn’t joking.
“I started to feel very strange. My chest was tight. It is difficult to describe but I knew something wasn’t right,” says Jasper, one of the friendliest men in the tough world of showbiz.
Now aged 73, believe it or not, he flew home from Majorca to see his doctor - and only just in time.
He needed a quadruple heart bypass operation – urgently.
“I am such a lucky boy. We have lost Ray Wilkins and Eric Bristow recently and that could so easily have happened to me,” says Jasper.
And we are also lucky because this summer he and his talented pals are bringing a unique show to the Holt Festival in Norfolk.
Stand Up and Rock blends great comedy and classic pop music starring Jasper and his school chum Bev Bevan, his friend who went on to be the drummer with two of the greatest groups this country has ever produced – The Move and then the Electric Light Orchestra.
And they are joined on stage by other top musicians, including Geoff Turton, the lead singer with the Rockin Berries, another class act who also had a string of hits in the 1960s.
“We really are having a fabulous time and we all get on so well. It is really lovely,” says Jasper.
He was forced to cancel about 30 gigs last year following his lifesaving operation but now he and the gang are back on the road and they are having a ball.
“Up until then I had only ever cancelled one show. I felt terrible but I couldn’t believe how generous and friendly people were. I had 700,000 messages of goodwill. Absolutely unbelievable! I was flabbergasted,” he says.
Proof, if any were needed, that Jasper is loved. He is a man who has given us so many laughs through the years but he is also a musician, game show host, actor, author and musician.
Birmingham-born, he and Bev worked together in a city centre department store called the Beehive when they left school. “Are You Being Served must have been based on it,” reflects Jasper – real name Robert Davis.
Bev went on to join The Move, while Robert turned into Jasper and started a folk club. He hit the charts in the summer of 1975 with Funky Moped. Remember that?
He had a string of TV shows which attracted millions of viewers in the 1970s and ‘80s and the comedy police drama with Robert Powell called The Detectives was a class act.
Over the past 30 years he has become one of the funniest and best loved comedians in the land. He is a premier league storyteller who doesn’t rely on swearing to get jokes, unlike so many do today.
“I’m not going to be effing and
blinding. Comedy is no less funny because you’re not swearing,” he says.
His stories, such as the one about moles and insurance claims, are timeless.
Today Jasper is a happy man, touring with a group of great musicians. He does 30 minutes, they play some great tunes, he comes on again. And the show ends with them all bringing the house down.
It’s a winning formula which has been playing to packed out houses across the land.
“We are all mates. The atmosphere is great. We are having such a good time,” he says.
As he adds: “Laughter is the best medicine – unless you’re diabetic, then insulin comes high on the list.”
He has been married to Hazel for more than 40 years and they have three daughters and one son, Lucy, Hannah, Jenny and Jake. He was awarded an OBE for his tireless charity work and he was also partowner of the production company which made Who Wants To be A Millionaire.
Now he and his friends are back on the road and having a ball.
Jokes and tales from Jasper, great rock ‘n’ roll from Bev and the boys. What better way to spent a night. See you there ... Jasper Carrott’s Stand Up And Rock show is at the Theatre in the Woods, as part of the Holt Festival on Sunday, July 29. For £ 30 tickets click on the Holt Festival website or call 01603 598699.
Jasper Carrott is back in business after a major health scare.
Jasper Carrott is headlining the Holt Festival on Sunday, July 29.