TV Cream

Photo clippage

Photo clippage special: Lionel Blair

A few months back Lionel Blair clocked up 60 – count ’em, Cliff – years in showbusiness.

He’s still going strong, albeit most often as the target of jokes on I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue (cue deafening audience response), and through the years has never been backwards in coming forwards (cue deafening audience response) when it comes to photo calls.

So by way of a belated tribute, here’s a picaresque, if not especially picturesque, saunter through Maestro Blair’s back pages.

1) It’s April 1990, and here’s one Lionel a-leaping to publicise a forthcoming attempt at the world’s largest tap dance, scheduled for 6 May outside Allders department store in Croydon. Whether the mass hoof was a success, whether it involved the Coldstream Guards and/or the Roly Polys, indeed whether it took place at all, doesn’t really seem to matter now:

Lionel pulls it off for a group of soldiers

2) Back to July 1979, and here’s Lionel breaking open the bubbly to celebrate Sir Clifford’s 21st anniversary in “the business”. Five Simon Mayo mystery year points if you can name the complete set:

Lionel manages to beat off Cliff, much to Ken's delight

3) Now we’re in July 1996, and the twilight years of John Major’s government. But there’s clearly one *Blair* John’s only to happy to see in his back garden:

Lionel waits to be whipped through the government lobbies

4) June 1969 in Leeds city centre, and Brucie is greeting his people. These were the days when it was enough for a celebrity to go on a mere motoring excursion for an entire municipal borough to grind to a halt. Or maybe they just wanted to see Cilla. Step inside, love!

Lionel shows Brucie he's in charge

5) We’re now in June 1998, and Lionel is consorting with lords (steady!) in order to promote Help the Aged, specifically a grand public line dance on piers across the country. Personally we’d rather see a line dance on peers, Melvyn Bragg and Dickie Attenborough excepted:

Lionel eagerly bends over for some lords (yes, these things write themselves)

6) June 1995, and the society wedding of the year! No, not Lionel and Sue, but Les Dennis (40) and Amanda Holden (24). In his role as usher, Lionel’s chief task was preventing Sue from launching into a lusty chorus of We’re Starting Together:

Lionel does something that can be made to sound rude

7) Last but not least, here’s an undated snap of Lionel trying to out-Charleston the World Charleston Champion of 1928. Lord Grade appears to be attempting to pull a ‘duh’ face, so beloved of primary school playgrounds c. 1982, while Lionel merely grins while taking it from behind:, Lord...a lord...oh, please yourselves



  1. Great Bustard

    February 3, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    When Lionel was on The RDA he announced he wasn’t going to dance anymore because it embarrassed his kids or wasn’t seen as manly enough or something. Naturally, within three nanoseconds he was up on the desk tapdancing.

    Do people still say Lionels when they mean flares?

  2. Rob Free

    February 5, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    My biggest claim ot fame is dancing with Lionel Blair to the Birdie Song. Remember the Lionel Blair haircut advert?

  3. lump516

    February 7, 2011 at 2:31 am

    Haircut ad? Fellow looks as if his hair might be detachable.

  4. David Pascoe

    February 12, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    He was giving good value on Radio 4’s Saturday Live last weekend.

    Like TV Cream, I used to love his salute at the end of each episode of Give Us a Clue.

    And of course, it’s now impossible to watch “A Hard Day’s Night” without going “Ooh, there’s Lionel Blair and his Dancers” in the lead up to “I’m Happy Just to Dance With You”

  5. Palitoy

    February 13, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    He is a legend. Who can ever forget fellow contestants looking on, open mouthed, at his attempt to bring off ‘Twelve Angry Men’ in under two minutes on ‘Give Us A Clue’? Or when he was on a ferry with Ant and Dec where the vessel almost sank and Mr Blair was fully prepared to go down with all hands on deck?
    He was also custodian of the badminton and tennis lockers at Wimbledon as a lad. If anyone wanted access to the cock and ball locks he was only too willing to oblige.

  6. Pearlyman

    February 14, 2011 at 11:56 am

    Can’t place the lady with the oversized specs in the second pic. Anyone?

  7. Arthur Nibble

    February 14, 2011 at 10:57 pm

    I think that’s Patti Boulaye.

    Anyone remember when Lionel was the fall guy for a phone call from Christian O’Connell of (then) Virgin Radio and retorted on air “Is this a pi$$ take?”

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