ALBERT BURDON      click on a picture for a larger version

Albert Burdon and Son

IT WAS the final week of Bryan Burdon' s successful season in Blackpool and I went along to see him to find out what was happening to his father, Albert Burdon. Albert belongs to South Shields and began his career as a champion child clog dancer, working the pubs and clubs on Tyneside. He was still in his teens when he toured the country starring in such revues as League of Neighbours and Love on the Dole.
His sisters Hylda and Ada were in the same company (Thomas Convery theatrical group) and just to round things off he married the leading lady Vie Vivenne. He was only 21 when C. B. Cochran starred him in the West End shows Three Sisters - at Drury Lane - and Evergreen where his co-star was Jessie Matthews! He made films for Gaumont British Pictures and during the war he entertained the Forces.
After the war he toured the Moss Empire circuit with his own revues, and every Christmas he appeared in pantomime all over the country. I asked Bryan Burdon if he remembered playing Jack and the Beanstalk at the Theatre Royal with his father. Bryan smiled that famous smile of his, "That", he said, "was the beginning of a very happy relationship with my father and I working together in his own revues. We did many pantomimes the most memorable of them being the one at the Theatre Royal Newcastle when we played the Ugly Sisters."
This was remarkable, I had never heard of a father and son appearing in the same Cinderella playing side by side as the Ugly Sisters. Bryan was inclined to agree with me that this could be some kind of a record. At least - like me and others I spoke to - he'd never heard of it happening before. However after many wonderful years working together the separation came with Albert's retirement. He now lives in a bungalow somewhere in Surrey, although there's a whisper going round that he may move back to South Shields where one of his sisters still lives.
We'd talked so much about Burdon senior there wasn't much time left to discuss Bryan's activities. I wanted to know if it was true he'd actually performed the famous 'Magic Cabinet Act' for which his father had been renowned. "Yes," said Bryan Burdon, "I performed The Magic Cabinet act on Sunday Night at the London Palladium two years ago."Actually as Bryan talked I was amazed at the amount of theatrical work he gets through, I was exhausted just listening to him!
Prior to his long summer season at Blackpool he appeared in two television spectaculars - one in Holland and one in Germany - it was their version of our Generation show. He will be associate producer for Thames Television Christmas and Easter's Circus programmes. He will be co-starring with Trevor Bannister (Are you being Served?) at the Theatre Royal, Windsor for their Panto 'Jack and the Beanstalk'. Next summer will see him topping the bill at the Spa Theatre, Scarborough.
Albert Burdon still takes active interest in his son's career, also his grandson. Yes, seven year old Ben has already appeared on TV and has a summer show to his credit. Who knows - he may taste some of the success his father and grandfather have already had.
I finished my tea, said goodbye to Bryan and as I walked away I thought (smugly I admit) We don't half turn them out on Tyneside!
Sarah Keegan

Further sources on Albet Burdon.

back to front page