Cannon And Ball freely admit they are definitely in new territory with Ha Ha Hood! And The Prince Of Leaves, which sees them team up with Su Pollard on tour.
Venues include Eastbourne’s Congress Theatre on September 8, The Hawth, Crawley, on September 14, White Rock Theatre Hastings on September 17 and Brighton Theatre Royal on October 6.
Ten years after a messy divorce Robin and Marian are forced back together to fight the Sheriff once more. Little John and Friar Tuck, now considerably older and rougher around the edges, join the merry pair to try and save the citizens of Nottingham…
The cast are promising an outrageous side-splitting romp. Tommy Cannon takes on the evil Sheriff of Nottingham and Little John while Bobby Ball, currently starring in TV’s Not Going Out with Lee Mack, doubles up as Friar Tuck and Guy of Gisborne.
“It’s something Bob and I have never experienced in 52 years together,” laughs Tommy. “It’s a bit off the wall when you think about it. We meet Robin Hood and Maid Marian ten years later, and they are now divorced, and I have just come out of jail! It’s a bit bawdy. It’s interesting to say the least.
“It’s pretty tightly-scripted to be honest, but knowing me and Bob when we get out there together, there is likely to be a bit of ad libbing, but obviously you have got to be careful when there is dialogue for other people!”
The pair have done a play before, stepping into roles vacated by Eric Sykes and Jimmy Edwards – though Tommy struggles to remember the name of the play they did. They’ve done so much down the years. 52 of them.
“We met in a welding factory. We were joined together by a welding rod! We sang for the first few years, and then we saw that a comedian was earning more than us and we asked him why he got paid more. He said it was because he was a comedian, and so we became comedians. That was in the 1960s, and it was a great time.
“There was like an apprenticeship. You started in the pubs and then the working men’s clubs and then the cabaret clubs and then you went from the cabaret clubs to the theatres. From the theatres, if you got spotted, you would go into television. That was the ladder for everyone.
“But sadly, if you think about it, variety has gone now. There is no variety on television any more. It has been completely wiped away. I don’t say it with any deep regret, but I do regret that there isn’t a little bit more. The nearest you get now, I suppose, is Britain’s Got Talent. Things have changed. But it will be coming back. Everything comes around in a circle.”
Tommy remembers the days when performers would get ‘paid off’ if they didn’t come up to scratch. You would get £6 for a lunchtime session and then £6 for the evening session, but if the lunchtime gig didn’t go well, the venue would give you your money and tell you not to come back in the evening.
Tommy recalls the humiliation.
“I was driving down the A1 with Bobby one Saturday night. We had been paid off. We stopped in a layby, and we used to smoke then. We tried to find a cigarette. We were both married. We both had children. I said ‘How much longer can we carry on doing this?’ Bobby said ‘We will carry on to the next venue, and if it doesn’t work out, then we will have to call it a day.’ We went to the next venue, and we absolutely stormed it!”
Ha Ha Hood! And The Prince Of Leaves is on at The Hawth, Crawley, on Sunday, September 14, at 7.30pm.
Call 01293 553636 or click here