A tribute to the life and work of entertainment impresario Duggie Chapman.
The world of entertainment has lost a much-loved veteran with the death of Duggie Chapman, who had been regaling Northern Life readers with his showbiz memories for more than six years.
Duggie, who had been variously dubbed ‘The Godfather of Variety’ and ‘Mister Music Hall’, passed away on 1st April aged 81, survived by Beryl, his partner of 43 years, and daughter Gaynor. Friends, family and figures from the world of showbiz, having been urged to ‘wear something bright’, celebrated his life at the Lowther Pavilion, Lytham.
Duggie lived and breathed entertainment for the whole of his life. Born in Burnley, he was putting on pre-film shows at the town’s Odeon cinema aged 11 and was spotted by a film producer and cast in the 1949 film The Cure for Love, starring Robert Donat.
He left school at 15 to join a professional young singing group The Four Blue Pages but soon turned to comedy and appeared in variety and music hall shows, making some 100 BBC radio broadcasts and touring not only throughout Britain but as far afield as Australia.
In the 1960s he settled in Blackpool, and became a successful producer and impresario, rubbing shoulders with top names from Julie Andrews to Danny La Rue and many more too numerous to mention. He was also a great promoter of pantomime, producing seasonal shows throughout the UK.
Duggie always said he preferred performing to promoting, but his success as an impresario had earned him a Rolls-Royce and a splendid house at Blackpool.
He made a belated comeback to film in 1995, with a role in the Jerry Lewis comedy Funny Bones.
In 2008 Duggie was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from the British Music Hall Society, and in 2009 was awarded Rat of the Year by the Grand Order of Water Rats, the showbiz fund-raising charity, the same year he was made an MBE for his services to light entertainment and charity work.
Duggie was saddened by the decline of live theatre that had accompanied the rise of television, and wrote many articles for Northern Life recounting the good old days of big stars and packed audiences.
His nostalgia shows such as We’ll Meet Again, were still bringing in the crowds, and he was also happy sharing his stories with audiences – including here at Northern Life – in his video presentations such as Thanks for the Memories.
Thanks for all your memories, Duggie. We’ll miss you.