BUTLINS COMPERE MIKE ONIONS
There are Entertainment staff who work at Butlins, leave, and are forgotten the minute they walk out of the camp gate, then there are those who enter into Butlins' folklore. One such person is MIKE ONIONS, who worked as Camp Compere for fourteen seasons, at different camps.
1972 was my only year
at Skegness, although I spent the years 1964-1973 with Butlins, as well
as 1959 and 1978-1980. I remember Ray & Eve very well - Ray was easily
the best children's entertainer that I worked with over the years.
[Mike is referring to Ray King and Eve Lacey, who were 'Uncle and Aunty' at Skegness in 1972 and '73.
Go to: UNCLE RAY & AUNTY EVE ].
Mike again: A little about us:- we married in March 1972, just before starting our season at Skegness, having met at Minehead in 1970 when Janet was dancing in the Revue. In 1971 I was Camp Compere at Clacton.
We went on to Barry Island in 1973, but in 1974 we left Butlins to be in Duggie Chapman's Olde Tyme Music Hall, at the Embassy in Skegness Town. However, we used to go up to the Camp to help judge the children's talent contest.
We eventually pulled out of show business in 1980 and Janet set up a dancing school at Porth in the Rhondda Valley which is still going strong while I became a bingo hall manager and retired just over 5 years ago, but I still compere Janet's shows and play parts in the potted pantos that she does in the second half - this year I am the 'Fairy Godfather' in Cinderella.
Mike & Janet Onions
Hello A.J it's me again.
I only did one of my 14 seasons at Skegness and, sadly, it was not one of my better ones - as I was ill through most of it. I had only just got married and Janet was not looking forward to spending the rest of her life with this moaning, sickly stick-insect. However we had our moments.
My favourite memory of that year was suddenly deciding to stand on a soap-box outside the Betting Shop, to harangue those entering on the evils of gambling. Security were sent for (I know not by whom) and they took one look and said "Oh it's just Mike buggering about." The bookmaker was delighted, as his business went up considerably, and he gave me a free bet.
Before a show I would often go up onto the roof of the Gaiety Theatre to gather myself. From there you would look over the sportsfield. Often, in the middle, was a lone figure playing the bagpipes - I do not know what department he was in, but it was the only place he could go to practise without annoying anybody.
I agree that Alan Ridgeway was a great entertainments manager - one of the few I got on with. I am afraid I used to just do my own thing and ignore most of them but I was lucky in that I was championed by Frank Mansell.
I enjoy the web site, marvellous.
All the best,
Mike Onions & Janet Denney (4th May 2007)
If you have any photos of Mike Onions at Butlins, please send them in.