HAL BROOKS and DEENA BROOKS - Part 2
BUTLINS PWLLHELI 1960Having missed the 1959 season, when we returned to Pwllheli we inherited our own children's entertainer, Uncle Dave Stockton. We worked together on our evening shows. He was the best pantomime dame I ever knew.
Our two Redcoat girls this year were Australian school teachers, Mel and Shirley.
As with our earlier season, our two boys were already booked in for a week's holiday later on, so we felt all ready for the coming weeks ahead.
During our wait to get back to camp, I had an idea for a stage quiz. It consisted of two boards made up of ten letters that were revealed when a shutter was raised. Each shutter had a number from 1 to 10 on it. Both boards were visible to the audience but a screen prevented the two players seeing each other's. A question master controlled the competitors. A correctly answered question allowed one number to be lifted up. A correctly answered question revealed a letter or a blank. I named the game "Your numbers Up." A previous name for the game was "Whoseit? "Whatsit?" "Wheresit? A person, an object, or a place name? The game was won as soon as either player guessed the correct hidden item.
I made a stage set-up and took it with me. Mr. Johnson gave me a late-night spot in the Gaiety Theatre. With my great friend Duncan as Question Master, and me behind doing the 'lifting up' business, it was a great success. We were put into the camp programme. The upshot of this was the head of Butlin's entertainments, Colonel Basil Brown, came and saw it. He liked what he saw and bought it. He also ordered two more set-ups from me. Deena and I delivered one to the Butlins Ocean Hotel, Brighton, and the other to their hotel in Margate. You can read the whole story of our four seasons with Billy Butlin in my book "Hal Brooks, Clown Etc." published by Troubador Publishing, Ltd.
The weather was atrocious on returning home to Mumbles, from Brighton. The River Arun flooded, and we had to divert through a place we had never heard of, Bognor Regis! Little did we know then that Bognor would soon play a big part in our lives.
Knowing the routine of the Pwllheli camp, during this, our second season, I found more time for an extra late-night show or two. Deena and I no longer had to swan around in the ballroom after we finished with the children. I had my easel with me, and performed my 'Lightning Sketch' routines in other late shows. I was always assisted by my very pretty and talented 'Auntie Deena.'
A street band, the 'Happy Wanderers,' were with us this year, I think.
We were told TV comedian Dave King's children were on camp one week. He was a big name then, and was always in the Press. We were asked to keep a discreet eye on them and allow them to enjoy a normal holiday.
I remember we had a grand group of Redcoats that year - all very talented, friendly, and lovely people to work with. Pete Braham was my 'baddie' this season. No face-stocking covered face, just a great friendly hulk - a famous stuntman later on.
I wish I could reel off all their names, but I can't. A couple of names I retrieved from my memory, Dave Simpson, Kay Bassano, Archie Baker, Wally Piggott. From what years I'm not sure.
This season, 1960, we were really missing our two boys. It was over 176 miles to home. No chance of a visit on our one day off each week. Rumour was that a new camp was to open in Bognor Regis. I approached Wally Goodman, and he wrote saying we could work anywhere on the firm. So we decided to move 200 miles south to become the Auntie and Uncle in the new holiday camp for the 1961 season. But let's save that for Part 3.