Photos of Wigan
Photos of Wigan

Wigan Album

Dave Forrester


Dave Forrester Booking Agent with Barbara Kelly
Photo: Keith
Views: 760
Item #: 32038
Dave Forrester was born in Wigan around 1898. He was the son of a furniture store proprietor. He began his show business career as a drummer but soon realised there was more money in booking bands than playing in them. This proved lucrative during the 1920’s and 30’s, as dance bands grew in popularity.

In the late 30’s he diversified and built a 1,300 super-cinema in Chorley and later the Plaza in Batley and the Hippodrome in Belfast. The 2nd world war put the brakes on and by 1951 he was bankrupt.

Moving south to Hove he, with the help of his wife, started up again, and in 1954 went north to meet Ken Dodd with a view to signing him. The interview did not go well after Dodd asked, “What can you do for me?” Dave replied, “I don’t know son, I haven’t seen your act”. Ken immediately tore up the contract, shocked but also impressed at the same time, Dave became more determined to be his booking agent. He succeeded and Ken Dodd became one of his Agency’s first clients but they never had a formal contract for the whole time they were together. Dave passed away in 1988.

He was described in “The Stage” as “the personification of the dour, growling hard as-nails ten-per-centre who won’t relinquish a penny of his commission”. A BBC manager commented, “Dave was always an awkward so and so to deal with, but as far as Ken was concerned, Dave was a good agent”. That must have been true since they were together for 34 years.

Comment by: TommyT on 2nd April 2020 at 15:21

Wife of Bernard Braden.

Comment by: Eric on 2nd April 2020 at 19:27

I was listening to a desert island disc recording .from 1963.ken Dodd being interviewed by Roy Plomley.He says he first met Dave forrester at Wigan hippodrome ,cheers eric

Comment by: DTease on 2nd April 2020 at 21:10

Is that the Barbara Kelly who used to be on What's My Line?

Comment by: Keith on 2nd April 2020 at 21:38

A little more on Wigan born Dave Forrester, a very successful booking agent. He had a saying “I'll go anywhere, see anything” His first “discovery” was a young man playing the piano at the Tower Ballroom Blackpool, later known as Geraldo. He negotiated Ruby Murray’s first recording contract, later he represented Eddie Calvert, and it was Dave who convinced Ken Dodd, along with music publisher Jimmy Phillips to record “Love is like a violin” which earned Ken a golden disc, the first of 11 that Ken went on to collect. Dave also masterminded Mike Yarwood’s entry to television.
Barbara Kelly was a British actress, best known for her television roles in the United Kingdom opposite her husband Bernard Braden in the 1950s and 1960s, and for many appearances as a panelist on the British version of What's My Line? Bernard Braden is probably best remembered for On the Braden Beat, a popular consumer affairs programme made for ITV Both were Canadian born.

Comment by: Philip G. on 3rd April 2020 at 08:09

Thanks Keith. I've just been reading '17 of Ken Dodd's one-liners'. Terrific! And thank Heaven he knew how to apply the right tone: It's a very aggressive world today … don't you think so, Fishface?
I couldn't find any mention of him having recorded The Twelfth of Never.

Comment by: Keith on 3rd April 2020 at 21:29

Hi Phillip, I'm very much a "stay at home" person. However about 15 years ago one of my sons bought my wife and I tickets for a performance by Ken Dodd at "nearby" Stoke (30 miles away). It's remained an indelible memory ever since for all the right reasons for both of us. We got home by 1.30am.
Michael Billingham theatre critic of the Guardian after interviewing Ken put it this way,
"As we part company, it strikes me I’ve been lucky enough in my lifetime to see two performers kissed with genius. One was Laurence Olivier, who could enthral an audience with his animalistic power and interpretative originality. The other is Ken Dodd, who has the capacity to take a roomful of strangers and, through a fusillade of verbal and visual gags that never lets up, induce in them a spirit of collective ecstasy. You can’t ask much more of a 90-year-old."

Comment by: Philip G. on 3rd April 2020 at 22:58

Thanks Keith. And, like yourself, I'm given to homely pursuits. Ken Dodd was my, and my late mother's, favourite. And your son's gift was well-chosen and equally appreciated by you and your wife. Splendid. Further thanks for your extra 'Larry' and 'Doddy' piece.

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