Bernie Clifton: From St Helens to Crackerjack to Vegas

Bernie talking to Granada Reports' Mike Hall

Veteran comedy entertainer, St Helens born Bernie Clifton has published his long awaited memoirs, at the grand old age of 87.

"Crackerjack To Vegas" charts his career, including his work with his famous puppet costume, Oswald the Ostrich.

Growing up in wartime St. Helens (where a bomb missed his head by a few yards), Bernie began his career as a teenage singer with a local dance band.

This was the first step on the long and winding road that took him to a Royal Variety Show where he reduced our late Queen to tears of laughter and then, after many years of touring, to a standing ovation in Las Vegas.

Bernie takes us along on his journey, explaining how he failed as a plumber but made it to Beijing as a trombonist.

Bernie meeting the Queen at the Royal Variety performance Credit: ITV News

The book highlights his exploits piloting his 'Flying Ostrich' microlight (without a licence) and keeping fit with the odd London marathon... on the back of an ostrich!

Having reached 87, he is still performing but doubts he'll write a sequel, quoting Barry Cryer on the subject of age: "I don't think that far ahead, I'm not even buying green bananas!"

Bernie came into the Granada Reports studio to speak to Mike Hall about why it took him so long to finally write it:

"I was a slow starter, not like by dad, who had five lads, two years inbetween, but I finally got round to writing it, I did take my time didn't I?

But at 87, it's on the table, I can't believe it."

Bernie told ITV Granada he had Les Dawson to thank for his famous ostrich act after they played together at the same gig.

Bernie said he was singing songs and telling jokes, and Les, who was topping the bill, took him to one side and said: "You're alright son, but you're just doing what everyone else is doing, whhy don't you plough your ownr furrow.. what do you like doing?"

Oswald the Ostrich is Bernie's most famous prop Credit: ITV News

Bernie said he told Les he liked working with props, so he went out and bought some props, and became a prop artist with the ostrich the biggest success, even making the late Queen cry with laughter.

His book "From Crackerjack to Vegas" has tributes from Johnny Vegas, Su Pollard, Anita Dobson, Joe Pasquale and Jimmy Cricket.

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