Laurel and Hardy
and the
Sons of the Desert
are at the heart of
Bowler Dessert Online





Filming of the biopic on Laurel and Hardy by the BBC has now finished. We can hardly wait to see the results.

Another Fine Fest

Below is the web link to the brochure for the Another Fine Fest event in Ulverston in June.


Randy says...

Hello from California to my fellow admirers of Laurel and Hardy in the UK.

I hope you might have heard about my book, "Laurel and Hardy: The Magic Behind the Movies." I began the research for it in 1973, when I was 14, and the first edition of it was published back in 1987. I was very blessed to meet and interview 65 co-workers and friends of Stan and Babe, including Hal Roach, Anita Garvin Stanley, Henry Brandon, music director Marvin Hatley, special effects wizard Roy Seawright, director George Marshall, editors Richard Currier and Bert Jordan, and many more. All of them shared with me some wonderful insights into the making of each Laurel and Hardy film. I was also able to find almost all of the team's scripts, which proved Hal Roach's theory that "fifty percent of what is in the script will not play," or will be replaced by other material. Those "missing" scenes were often very funny, though, and I described all of them in the book. 

About ten years ago, I realized that with the advent of the Internet, there was so much more material available that I would have to rewrite the book. Last year, the new edition was published, and thanks to David Koenig at Bonaventure Press it is more beautifully designed than anything I could have imagined. The new edition is greatly revised and expanded, with twice as much text, four times as many rare and previously unpublished photos (1,000 of them) and a wealth of new information. 

Until now, it has been difficult to get copies of my book from the USA to fans in the UK, as the postage cost was around $75.00 USD per book, almost as much as the book itself.  Happily, you may now order the book from Amazon UK, and the postage will cost only about £5.23, or about 6.98 in USD. (The postage to Ireland is now about 18 Euros, previously 80!) 

With this massive reduction of postage costs, I hope you will let the members of your tent know that the book is now much more affordable. Yes, it still costs a considerable sum, but even if I say so myself, the book is beautifully crafted in every way. I'm happy to say that it has gotten many rave reviews. There are only a few hundred copies left of the hardcover edition, and there will not be a second printing. 

Here's where you can order it: 

Further information about the book is at the website of the American publisher,

I send every good wish to you and the members of your tent. Long live Stan and Ollie, and long live the Sons of the Desert. 

Fraternally yours - Randy Skretvedt

Beer cheer

Brian Jessop came across this beer mat recently. . . I wonder if there is any iron in it?

John Burton

Way back when

Victoria Wood statue

An item in the press mentions that a bronze statue of Victoria Wood is to be created by 'our' Graham.

The completed work is to be sited in Library Gardens in her home town of Bury, Greater Manchester.

Good to see that the lad is keeping busy.

Eric Woods

Graham [Ibbeson] created the wonderful statue of Laurel and Hardy which stands in Ulverston

In the press

Here is an interesting report on the ventriloquist who appeared in the same theatres with L&H in the '50s, still working today:

The article also had a pop-up window (at least when I clicked on it), which had a short video report of the restoration of a statue of Stan, and the man who's speaking gives some interesting commentary about Stan, his theatrical background and his career in film.

Eric Schultz

He is the Black Country clubland ventriloquist who is the only surviving UK artiste to perform with Laurel and Hardy. And Mike Dennett is still treading the board with dummy Chic - at the age of 73.

We caught up with the showbiz veteran in Benidorm where he's performing at Rockafellas, The Palladium and Valentines. He appeared on the same bill as the legendary comedy duo at the Nottingham Empire on December 21, 1952 - at the tender age of 10. Mike got a last minute call to join "Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy's Christmas Party" after original ventriloquist Harry Worth pulled out through illness.

Worth went on to much bigger things, starring in his own BBC comedy series.

Mike certainly joined a packed and diverse show - and one with more than its share of animal acts. The bill included Derrick Rosaire's Wonder Horse, Betty Kaye's Pekinese Pets and Bob Bemand's Pigeons. Born in Nottingham, Mike, affectionately known as "The Dummy", first appeared on stage aged seven with mum, singer Eva Dennett. He made his first dummy and was guided by Nottingham ventriloquist Neville King.

"He gave me a script," said Mike. "It was stupid lines like, they call me Isiah because one eye's 'igher than the other."

Mike went on to become a regular on the Black Country club circuit. He appeared at Heath Town WMC, Wolverhampton, 35 times in 25 years and performed numerous times at Cradley Heath and Old Hill Ex-servicemen's.

His memories of the Laurel and Hardy show remain vivid. The Hollywood pair were friendly and warm. "It remains the highlight of my career," said Mike, "but the problem is, no one believes me."

When Harry Worth was taken ill, the drummer in the theatre band - a musician who lodged with Mike's parents - knew exactly who could step into his shoes. He immediately put forward the child prodigy's name. "I was quite nervous," said Mike, "but they were so nice. They took me into their dressing room. Ollie said, 'my name is Oliver Hardy and this is my friend Stan Laurel'. I watched them getting made up and they introduced me on stage. Stan had an elastic band round his head - that's how he made his hair stand-up. That's how he did it.

"It went very well, probably because of my age. Oliver Hardy appeared to take me off stage and said, 'ladies and gentleman, one day this young man's name will be up in lights. As it is, you'll probably find it in chalk on some hill somewhere."

Mike's long career included an appearance on talent show New Faces in the early '70s, but he was panned by every panel member except record producer Mickie Most. Long-time friend Reg Summerfield, a Bilston-based showbiz agent, said: "The dummy's arms and legs fell off. It was part of the act, but the panel didn't realise it, apart from Mickie Most.

"The ATV studios were inundated with complaints about the treatment Mike was given.

"He's doesn't want to retire, he loves it too much. OK, he's 73, but he works like a 50-year-old. How he hasn't been on TV more times is unbelievable."