An updated show about the lives of two showbiz legends is coming to the North East.

SHE was a humble check-out girl at the Co-Op with a talent for entertaining and he was a lieutenant in the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm who only started performing when he was a prisoner of war.

But they went on to become two of the most recognisable faces in British showbusiness – and now the story of how they met and how their careers developed is being brought to a North East theatre.

Read more: Why Darlington's Majestic Theatre cancelled its final panto show

Tyler Butterworth, son of comedian and impressionist Janet Brown and comedy actor Peter Butterworth, is bringing his show – A Bit of a Carry On – to The Princess Alexandra Auditorium, in Yarm School, later this month.

The Northern Echo: Tyler Butterworth, front left, on holiday with mum Janet Brown, dad Peter Butterworth, actor Kenneth Williams, his sister and a parrot!Tyler Butterworth, front left, on holiday with mum Janet Brown, dad Peter Butterworth, actor Kenneth Williams, his sister and a parrot!

His previous performances in the region have concentrated largely on the life and career of his father.

Peter Butterworth was a Carry On film stalwart, whose memorable roles included the dim-witted Detective Constable Slowbotham in Carry On Screaming, Brother Belcher, the missionary with questionable morals in Carry On Up The Khyber, and money-grabbing farmer Josh Fiddler in Carry On Camping.

Less known is his extraordinary backstory as a prisoner of war which he rarely spoke about in public. He was one of the first people to stage a tunnel escape during the Second World War, achieving three days of freedom before being spotted and captured by a member of the Hitler Youth, and spent much of the war in Stalag Luft III, which became famous as the venue for a breakout which formed the basis of the film The Great Escape.

The Northern Echo: Peter Butterworth in Stalag Luft IIIPeter Butterworth in Stalag Luft III

His son has now updated the show to include more details of his mother’s story, woven into the narrative, which also includes images and clips from the Carry On films .

Best known for her impressions of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Janet Brown was a TV regular in the 1970s and 1980s.

Mr Butterworth said: “I look at their working marriage, their lives together and their individual appearances as subjects of This is Your Life – I even bring mum’s Big Red Book to the show to let the audience see what’s inside it.

The Northern Echo: This is Your Life

“I show clips of her work from her own TV series and her work with Mike Yarwood which was such a productive relationship. He, very astutely, said he couldn’t impersonate Mrs Thatcher and invited mum on to his show.

“It became a very good move and they both produced reams of wonderful, memorable sketches together. They both started impersonating people they hadn’t impersonated before because the relationship enabled them to explore more possibilities.

“I have letters from Mrs Thatcher to mum which I read out – they reveal a respectful and admiring friendship, which reveal a surprisingly humorous side to Mrs T at times.”

The Northern Echo: Janet Brown. left, with Margaret ThatcherJanet Brown. left, with Margaret Thatcher

The show also includes details of Brown’s humble childhood – she lived in a tenement block in Glasgow, her father worked on the shipyards and she worked as a check out girl in the local Co-Op before entering talent contests and winning them.

And there are details of how the couple met over dinner following a show put on by PoWs in London.

Mr Butterworth said: “The story feels more complete and of course I spend more time looking at how mum’s career took off just as Mrs T came into power, which was the same year that dad died, 1979.

“I think the balance is better for the new inclusions and helps to frame dad’s work and put it into context. It also enables me to show mum as a performer who, although married to a much loved and well known actor, had a career which she forged on her own, and how she too was loved for her cheeky and irreverent impressions.

“She was still working at 84, in the West End, and staying out far too late, but loving it.”

* A Bit of a Carry On is at The Princess Alexandra Auditorium, Yarm, at 7.30pm on Saturday, January 22. More details and tickets available from:

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