■ The Chuckle Brother, 72, on life after Barry, supporting the Marie Curie appeal, and his unlikley famous fans
Why are you supporting the Marie Curie Great Daffodil Appeal?
We started working with them 12 years ago. I’d reached 45,000 followers on Twitter and saw an advert for Marie Curie. I asked my followers to donate a pound each to Marie Curie and we became ambassadors from there. They were with my brother and fellow Chuckle Brother Barry at the end. My father-in-law passed away recently and they were with him right to the end as well.
In what way were they supportive?
They support the patient and the relatives and help administer any medication. They sent a sitter round to be with my father-in-law overnight. He passed away two hours after they left. Everything they do is fabulous. I’ve done all sorts for them. I’ve walked around York city centre with a bucket asking for donations for a selfie.
Do you often get asked for selfies?
Non-stop. ChuckleVision started in 1987 and went on for 23 years — so how many kids grew up watching us? I don’t mind people asking for selfies — it’s nice to be recognised.
Why was the show such a hit?
We never talked down to the kids. We behaved like we were a couple of children, just having fun.
Has anyone famous said they are a fan?
I went to a festival last year and Lewis Capaldi went berserk. I was backstage with someone who wanted to meet him so we went over to his trailer and he came out and said, ‘It’s a Chuckle Brother!’ He went mad and got an assistant to take pictures. Tinchy Stryder told me he used to run home from school so he wouldn’t miss the start of ChuckleVision. Lily Allen said she’d never been star-struck before she met us. She didn’t know what to say.
Have any comedians said you’ve inspired them?
Lots. Joe Lycett’s a good mate now — he was a fan when he was a kid. He’s a great comic. I met him at the Royal Variety Performance and we shared a dressing room. The next day we did Blankety Blank and became mates.
Was it inevitable you would go into showbiz?
My dad was a comedian and my mum was a dancer. Our older brothers had a double act. All I wanted to do was play football. I got into Rotherham boys when I was 14 but I was injured. My football career was over. Barry was already a comedian and he said, ‘Come and join me and we’ll do a double act!’
Do comedians have it easier today than when you started?
We had to do all the working men’s clubs — it was hard work. I’m sure it’s hard now doing the stand-up clubs — but people go there to see comedians. In our day they were just there to have a drink and what was on stage was something on the side. Then we did Opportunity Knocks in 1967, we won New Faces in 1974 but people don’t know you until you get your own show. We did the ChuckleHounds in 1982 and got our own show from there. You need luck on your side. There are lots of talented people out there who never had the break.
Were some working men’s clubs more difficult than others?
The ones in the North East, around Sunderland especially, had very hard audiences. You dreaded going up but you had to do it to make a living. We’d have summer season, which eventually disappeared, and pantomime and you’d do the clubs in between. The clubs in the North East in the 1960s were seven days a week with two shows on Sundays. You’d panic going into them. We were never blue, we always kept it clean, and lots of clubs liked that but others hated it and ignored us. You’d never know what the audiences were like.
How difficult is it to continue working by yourself?
It’s 18 months since Barry died. It was hard at first. We were a double act for 55 years, so to walk on stage and not have him to bounce off and laugh with, to think I’ll never have that again, that’s the hard bit. I just have to crack on.
How are you related to Pete and Sophie from Gogglebox?
I’m their great uncle. I think they’re the funniest couple on it. They’re just lovely kids.
What can people expect from your DJ gigs?
It’s all tsunami dance. I love it. Me and the wife regularly go to clubs, we look too old to get in, but the people on the door know who we are now. I can listen to dance music all night long. I used to love it in the 1980s and I play it now.
Where do you do the gigs?
All round the country. The feeling of love I get and the big cheer they give me and when they say they grew up watching our TV show — it gives me a warm feeling.
■ Elliott is supporting the Great Daffodil Appeal, mariecurie.org.uk