Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club (1974-77)

Courtesy of ITV Global Entertainment ltd

Main image of Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club (1974-77)
Granada Television for ITV, 13/3/1974-18/6/1977
42 x 30/45 min edns in 6 series plus 3 specials, colour
ProducersJohn Hamp
 Jeremy Fox
 Rod Taylor
Music DirectorDerek Hilton

Concert Chairman: Colin Crompton; Presenter: Bernard Manning

Show full cast and credits

Variety show modelled on the north of England working men's club scene.

Show full synopsis

Wheeltappers and Shunters presented a variety bill ostensibly in the setting of a Northern 'working man's' club, in fact a rather effective studio set. Acts performed while the audience, apparently a cross-section of ordinary working folk, were generally seated at tables, eating and drinking and almost challenging the acts to entertain them. These clubs were usually affiliated to a trade union - and sometimes to a particular variety circuit as well.

The idea for the programme came in part from The Comedians (ITV, 1971-74; 1979-80; 1984-85; 1992), which, while trying out different formulae on tour, featured former bank clerk (and Comedians participant) Colin Crompton in a role similar to that of Leonard Sachs in The Good Old Days (BBC, 1953-83). His performance landed him the concert-chairman part, while Bernard Manning - another from The Comedians - was given the role of compere. Both Manning, originally a singer with the Oscar Rabin Band (and later to own and run his own club), and Crompton had worked the northern club circuit, and were genuine northerners, which added authenticity. As well as their own slots between the acts, the two tended to interrupt a little more than might happen in a genuine club set-up, but they were of course part of the show.

The show presented a series of acts, typical of those a northern club would expect to book - pop-stars and fading artistes, novelty and speciality acts of every type: Joseph Locke, Cannon and Ball, Paul Daniels, Gene Pitney, Marti Caine, Bernie Clifton, The Swinging Blue Jeans, Stephan Grapelli and Howard Keel are just some examples.

Attempts to add authenticity included phoney officious notices about behaviour and dress-codes, 'home-made' poster-style closing titles, shots of waitresses and bar-staff and photographs of (mainly Labour) politicians and Royalty on the walls. In the final series, shows featured a single act.

David Sharp

Click titles to see or read more

Video Clips
1. A phone call to No. 10 (1:38)
2. Crompton's fire bell (0:50)
3. Max Wall (4:35)
Complete edition - part 1 (18:39)
Complete edition - part 2 (20:16)
Comedians, The (1971-93)
Stars and Garters (1963-66)
Cannon, Tommy (1938-) and Ball, Bobby (1944-)
Hamp, John
TV Variety