A taste of the Good Old Days

Bobby Crush is coming to Mansfield.
Bobby Crush is coming to Mansfield.
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As someone who cites sitting in his playpen and hearing Ruby Murray singing ‘Softly, Softly’ as his earliest memory, perhaps it was written in the stars that Bobby Crush would grow up to be a revered entertainer himself.

The popular pianist, veteran of six winning appearances on TV’s Opportunity Knocks and three seasons at the London Palladium, is to star in ‘The Good Old Days of Music Hall and Variety’ when it arrives at Mansfield Palace Threatre on Wednesday 12th March.

The nostalgic show sees Bobby and a full supporting company of singers take the audience back to the days of light-hearted TV entertainment.

Featuring a slice of comedy, there is plenty of opportunity to sing along to some old favourites.

In firing random questions at Bobby, it’s clear he loves life - and his chosen career. He finds it hard, for instance, to imagine getting through a week without his piano.

“It’s the one item I couldn’t live without, I play it most days,” he says. “My biggest fear would have to be work seizing up. I’m into my 42nd year and it has happened yet but there’s always that nagging fear that the phone will stop ringing.

“The careers I envy most are anyone who’s had longevity in showbiz - Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones, Lulu... all of whom have re-invented themselves and stayed the course in a notoriously hard business.

“And if I had to be stuck in a lift with someone living or dead? It would be Dusty Springfield, who is my favourite singer of all-time. Although we were signed to the same record label, we never met and I would love to ask her about her life and career.”

Given those revelations, it’s hardly a surprise that Bobby can boast Barbara Windsor, of Carry On and Eastenders fame, as the most famous name in his phonebook.

Although not as superstitious as many performers, he does take the odd pre-show precaution or two - and he always sticks to good advice handed him early in his career.

Bobby explains: “I won’t whistle in the dressing room or mention the name of the ‘Scottish play’, but other than that I’m not too bad before I go on stage.

“My first manager, Leslie Grade, always told me to turn up on time, be prepared for the job and don’t stay in ‘pro digs’, which has served me well.”

Starting the day with a large pot of coffee and Channel 4’s Frasier ‘if I’m up in time’, Bobby’s busy schedule means his spare time is at a premium.

It’s why he says he’s delighted, prior to our interview, to work his way through an enormous stack of e-mails which have backed up over the previous few days.

When he does relax, he loves nothing better than to open a bottle of Rioja ‘from a good year’, and enjoys sampling the work of his contemporaries, often bringing a tear to his eye.

“I’m a total wuss,” admits Bobby. “I always cry at movies and plays. The last time was ‘Saving Mr Banks’, where Emma Thompson made me blub for the last 10 minutes of the film.”

There’s unlikely to any tears in Mansfield, however. Just a rip-roaring evening of entertainment.