Barry Cryer and Colin Sell will leave Romford audience crying with laughter

PUBLISHED: 12:00 25 March 2017

Barry Cryer and Colin Sell

Barry Cryer and Colin Sell

Andrew H Williams

The list of names which Barry Cryer has written jokes for reads like a who’s who of comedy greats.

From Morecambe and Wise, Richard Prior, Tommy Cooper to Billy Connelly, it is likely that at least one of your favourite comedian’s jokes were written by 82-year-old funny man.

Despite being best known as a writer Barry started out as a stand-up himself and is looking forward to returning to his roots alongside his close friend, and pianist, Colin Sell at Queen’s Theatre, in Billet Lane, Hornchurch on Sunday.

“I was a stand-up and I was an actor, and given the choice I don’t like to work alone,” says Barry.

“My life has gone full circle. I started as a performer and as my writing for shows faded away my whole performing life came back.

“I don’t write for anybody now, haven’t done for several years, I get ideas for myself.

“Colin is marvellous, we’ve been together so long – it’s like telepathy. He’s not just a pianist he’s a partner. We know each others thinking.”

While Barry may be best known for his sharp one-liners and witty punch-lines his new show Strictly Come Joking will be a completely unique experience for audiences as the whole show is performed off the cuff.

“We’ve got a new format now, it won’t be like the last one or the next one,” says Barry excitedly.

“Colin has a pack of 26 cards, A to Z, and on them is different names and topics so I don’t know what he is going to give me.

“We both love doing this because we are not in a set pattern, sometimes a card will say Colin sings and I can sit back down!

“In the second half is a thing called ‘Barry’s Bucket’. When the audience come into the show they can write anything they want and put it into a bucket for me to talk about.”

“The first half is Colin getting me at it and the second half is the audience getting me at it.”

After years of being “a back

room boy” Barry is more than happy to be back in the limelight of the stage and has recently been performing with his band Cryer and Golden and doesn’t plan on slowing down.

“I do a show with Colin on the piano and a rock and roll show with Ronnie Golden – we just played a show in Bristol, there were 2,000 people, we are very happy about it.

“At my age now it is great to be working, I relax when I go on to stage it’s fantastic, it’s like a chat with the audience. It gets your adrenaline going, we don’t know what bits we are going to do.”

Thanks to his longevity in show business Barry has seen many changes within the industry and among audiences – one of the best being the opening of the national comedy circuit.

“There used to be quite a division where the northern comedians wouldn’t play the south as much, but people from all over are working all over now.

“There used to be a time when Welsh comedians would only play in Wales. The only variant now is local things going on.”

However Barry believes other aspects of comedy, especially stand-up, are not as enjoyable as they once were.

“Jimmy James and Denis Norden were two great writers. Dennis said a marvellous thing about the generations of comedy, he said ‘it’s as funny as it ever was, but it’s not as much fun’. The warm feeling isn’t there as much.”

Barry points towards Bill Bailey and Ross Noble as modern day comedians who exude warmth and also praised the originality of today’s comics.

“I spent my working life with comedians, the best ones were original. A lot of writers don’t perform, a lot of my contemporaries especially.

“You’re like a tailor with a suit, you have to design it with the person in mind.

“The stand-ups now write their own material. We wrote for everybody, there was a whole gang of people, I never wrote on my own.”

Strictly Come Joking is playing at Queen’s Theatre on Sunday only. To book tickets, which cost £19, call 01708443333 or go to

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