Barry Cryer was born in Leeds. Educated at Leeds Grammar School and Leeds University, he is B.A. Eng.Lit. (Failed). Of the latter, this was due to the outbreak of World War II, he says, which was 16 years before, but upset him very deeply. Discovered by an agent during his university years, he began working variety for the Windmill Theatre in London. In 1966, David Frost invited him to join the writing roster on the BBC programme, the Frost Report with a group of writers which included what was to become the whole of Monty Python, plus Marty Feldman, David Nobbs and many more. He moved with Frost to ITV and wrote and appeared in the Frost Programme, Frost on Sunday etc, until he returned to the BBC as one of the original Two Ronnies writers.
His association with Ronnie Corbett continued through to this year with Barry writing for the last two series of Small Talk.
Following his Frost years, he went on to write for practically every top comedian in the country, including Morecambe and Wise, Bruce Forsyth (The Generation Game), Tommy Cooper, Stanley Baxter, Dick Emery, Dave Allen, Frankie Howerd, Les Dawson (with David Nobbs), the Carry On team on television, Mike Yarwood, Billy Connelly, Russ Abbot, Bobby Davro, Jasper Carrot and many more. Also during a long association with ATV, he wrote for Bob Hope, Jack Benny, Phil Silvers, Phyllis Diller, Richard Pryor and other visiting stars. He also wrote shows for singers such as Tom Jones and Petula Clark (a Silver Rose winner) and advised and wrote a musical show for Dennis Waterman of The Sweeney and Minder. For eight years he wrote the Kenny Everett shows for ITV and BBC, and with the same team produced Assaulted Nuts – a series for HBO cable TV in America and on Channel 4.
As a performer he moved into TV and radio from theatre and night clubs, and has appeared in practically every panel game on British TV, including Joker’s Wild, That’s Showbusiness, Blankety Blank, What’s My Line?, Punch Lines, Give Us A Clue, Gibberish (and on radio) I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue, Just A Minute, QI and many more.
He has also authored several memoirs, including The Chronicles of Hernia, Butterfly Brain, Barry Cryer Comedy Scrapbook and Pigs Can Fly.
LitFest Session: Saturday Night Special Guest, 16 July at 8:30 pm