TV Cream

TV: C is for...

Cannon and Ball

Sorry girls, they're taken. By Jesus.“TO BE HONEST,” they would proclaim, “the fuss that is sometimes made when we’re playing the theatres scares us. It’s like The Beatles.” The Bootleg Beatles, that is. Walking (just) embodiment of what went wrong with comedy in the 80s, now born-again Christians but still happy to lap it up at the Blackpool Winter Gardens. Enjoyed astonishing exposure off the back of amusingly failed appearances on [cref 3944 BRUCE FORSYTH’S BIG NIGHT] doing sub-sub-sub Morecambe and Wise variety with a curly-haired noisy little sod with braces (“Rock on, Tommy!”) and tall dull stooge. Own show weirdly mutated into a sitcom for a bit, then ended up – oh god – Cannon And Ball’s Casino with a young Steve Coogan cashing his chips. Not the nadir, though; that was spin-off film The Boys In Blue, done ten years after ITV spin-off films had a) stopped being funny and b) just stopped. An appearance in 2000 on  J** D*******’s Generation Game was arduous: Cannon sings song “for all the ladies and gentlemen here tonight”, Ball accompanies on toy trumpet, Cannon gets gradually more agitated with Ball’s erratic behaviour, audience sympathises with Ball… They hadn’t learned.



  1. Arthur Nibble

    July 18, 2009 at 12:48 am

    You forgot to mention their security guard ‘comedy’ series, Plaza Patrol – as funny as eating pins – and I can’t say I blame you.

  2. Glenn Aylett

    July 18, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    if they were supposed to be the new Morecambe and Wise, as were the equally hopeless Lenny and Jerry, then either they bribed Morecambe and Wise to say this or ITV was so short of comedic talent in the eighties they would say anything to get viewers. Another reason why I was never struck on LWT and was a Thames man.

  3. Bob

    July 18, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    oh yes Plaza Patrol, christ I forgot that (thankfully). Were they worse than Les Dennis & Dustin Gee though? Probably.

  4. Glenn Aylett

    July 18, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    Les Dennis and Dustin Gee were quite good, their impersonations of female cast members of Corrie were very good. Cannon and Ball are only remembered now for that irritating catchphrase Rock on Tommy. Repeats on ITV3 are unlikely.,

  5. Jakey Doodles

    July 28, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    Why the hell did ITV keep giving the terminally unfunny Cannon and Ball airtime?. I have had viruses that have been more entertaining than them. By far the unfunniest people ever to grace our screens with the possible exception of Jo Brand and Hardeep Singh kolhi

  6. iStuart

    February 7, 2010 at 11:18 am

    For anyone lucky enough never to have experienced the humour delivered by this pair of Uber dull gits, it falls considerably lower than you could expect at the funeral of your wife and newborn twins after they’d all died in the house fire you could have saved all three from if you hadn’t been on the piss down the local. They are that bad.

  7. televisualcabbage

    February 7, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    Rock on Tommy! What a very good idea! Now where’s a beach when need one?

  8. Lee James Turnock

    April 30, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    The only laugh this pair of twats have ever given me is indirectly, when a letter to Viz described Tommy Cannon as having “a face like a kicked-in fridge door, the sour faced bastard”.

  9. Sid

    September 1, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    Bobby Ball lives in Blackpool and can often be seen strutting around the town – He claims to have found Jesus but that hasn’t stopped him being a rude, obnoxious, foul mouthed little git.

  10. DarrenM

    September 16, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    If you think the TV show was like undergoing dental surgery, you should have seen them live in panto.

  11. iStuart

    December 31, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    In their favour it it is well known that the regular appearance of these two men on our TVs accelerated considerably, the invention of the wireless (or Infrared) remote control and made redundant the previous method of removing them from the television by throwing a brick at the screen.

  12. Morgan

    September 7, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    People! You have to remember the eighties were a period of great social division: Thatcher, the miners, the rise of the yuppie, North v South, the far right, militant tendency. Cannon and Ball brought this great nation together, everyone thought they were shite.

  13. David

    September 2, 2016 at 2:04 pm

    Bobby ball is the most unfunny person ever

  14. Droogie

    September 3, 2016 at 1:31 pm

    Roy Walker told an anecdote about appearing on a Radio 2 comedy panel quiz show a few years back and cringing at Ball’s obnoxious behaviour to the other panellists. The show had a mix of old school comedians and newer younger acts. Apparently every time Ball made a joke and got a mild laugh from the audience, he’d turn to the newer acts and say “What’s it like to see a REAL comedian at work?” with no hint of irony. You’d think the bitter little twot would’ve been grateful for some rare paid work.

  15. George White

    September 4, 2016 at 10:03 am

    A Yank friend of mine recently watched the Boys in Blue, and asked “why were they popular?”
    I had to explain to him that Ball’s obnoxious aggressive character was something “new” on the club scene, and therefore they became popular.

    • Joanne Gray

      February 8, 2017 at 2:44 pm

      The Boys in Blue was a scene for scene recreation of the 1930s Will Hay vehicle Ask A Policeman only with an early 80s setting. And not funny. In fact, the cameras were run by the thermo electric power generated by Will Hay turning in his grave.

  16. Glenn Aylett

    May 6, 2019 at 2:04 pm

    They did what every old school entertainer did when they made their first million and bought Rolls Royces with personal plates, as they told TV Times in 1982. In the pre alternative era, the sign of being a popular comedian was to have a Rolls Royce in the drive, or parked outside your comedy club like Bernard Manning.

  17. Tom Ronson

    September 30, 2020 at 9:06 pm

    I have a particularly bleak childhood memory of a rain-lashed afternoon in Teignmouth during a family holiday, when I decided to take shelter in the town’s old-fashioned single-screen cinema, only to discover they were showing the Boys in Blue, Cannon and Ball’s sole attempt at a big-screen crossover, which prompted Bernard Manning (who attended the world premiere) to remark ‘I hope they decide to do a comedy when they make their next film’. I lasted about half an hour before getting my money back from an understanding and patient duty manager, who informed me that the film had been playing to empty houses for the past few days.

  18. THX 1139

    October 29, 2020 at 6:25 pm

    Some touching tributes to the late Bobby here. But at least The Boys in Blue gave us the theme tune with the immortal lyrics, “We are the Boys in Blue – a woo woo woo woo!” And people complain about the art of songwriting now…

  19. Richardpd

    October 29, 2020 at 11:30 pm

    Sad news even if I was never a big fan.

    I remember once on their show they were minding someone’s house with Bobby messing things up & doing the stock 1980s gags of mistaking a microwave for TV & a bidet for a 2nd toilet.

  20. Droogie

    August 15, 2021 at 12:10 pm

    Cannon and Ball’s journey from showbiz megastars to embarrassing end of the pier act is really quite something. I remember my dad laughing his head off at them in their heyday. Only a few years later he couldn’t stand the sight of them – I can still hear his groans whenever a series of unfunny TV ads they did for Lada cars would come on the telly. Was the reason for their rapid downwards trajectory that they weren’t very funny in the first place?

  21. Glenn Aylett

    August 20, 2022 at 7:08 pm

    You have to remember in the world of three television channels, not many video recorders and only a smoke filled pub as an alternative for entertainment, Cannon And Ball and their BBC rivals Little And Large used to attract very large audiences for their early shows. Then more people bought video recorders( hiring in a recent movie from the corner shop became very popular in the mid eighties), Channel 4 appeared and some pubs became yuppified, and the popularity of these not very funny double acts nosedived. Three possible reasons why they became unpopular, but more likely their threadbare act and predictable humour was another.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

To Top