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Maureen Kershaw

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[ABOVE] A portrait of Maureen Kershaw, photographed at the height of her show business fame.

Maureen Kershaw - Her Family and Early Stage Career

[ABOVE] Maureen Kershaw (right) pictured as a young girl with her elder sister Joyce Lilian Kershaw and her mother Mrs Lily Kershaw (formerly Lily Herbert) in a photograph taken around 1940, when Maureen was about six years of age.

Maureen Kershaw was born in Bethnal Green, East London, on 4th April 1934, the second daughter of Lily Herbert and John ("Jack") Daniel Kershaw. Maureen Kershaw's parents had married in the East London district of Bethnal Green in 1929. The couple's first daughter Joyce Lilian Kershaw was born on 7th November 1930 and Maureen arrived three and a half years later.

Maureen Kershaw attended the William McGuffie School, Greenleaf Road, Walthamstow, in North-East London. Maureen had a natural talent for singing. A friend of the Kershaw family, hearing Maureen performing a "party piece" at a social gathering and impressed by the eleven year old girl's vocal ability, suggested that Maureen should take formal singing lessons. During 1945, Maureen attended singing and dancing lessons and soon she was performing as a singer and tap dancer in money-raising events for the Red Cross and taking part in local talent competitions. Around this time, Maureen Kershaw auditioned for Bryan Michie, a well-known impresario, at the Granada Theatre, Walthamstow.

Maureen Kershaw's Show Business Career 1946-1952

In 1946, at the age of 12, Maureen Kershaw joined "Beams' Breezy Babes", a juvenile dance troupe run by Eleanor and Peggy Beams.

[ABOVE] A teenage Maureen Kershaw (4th from the left, back row) photographed with Peggy Beams and her juvenile dance troupe Beams' Breezy Babes (1948). This group photograph was taken in the Summer of 1948, when "Beams' Breezy Babes" were performing regularly at the  Derby Castle Opera House in Douglas, Isle of Man. It was around this time that Maureen Kershaw began to emerge as a solo singer.

Maureen Kershaw joined a juvenile dance troupe called Beams' Breezy Babes in 1946 at the age of 12. Beams' Breezy Babes, an entertainment troupe consisting of a dozen or more young female dancers and singers, had been formed by Eleanor and Peggy Beam soon after the Second World War. In the late 1940s, the Breezy Babes were managed and trained by Peggy Beams (see picture right).

Peggy Beams trained the girls in her troupe for a career on the stage. Newspaper articles of the time described Peggy Beams as the girls' tutor and guardian as well as their stage show producer. In an interview given in 1948, Peggy Beams emphasised the value to the young girls of performing in her dance troupe:

"This kind of work as juveniles gives them a good start. Their  early training knocks them into shape and gives them the discipline which is essential in the profession."

Maureen Kershaw in her stage costume as one of  Beams' Breezy Babes, a juvenile dance troupe run by Peggy Beam (see right) Peggy Beams, who trained Maureen Kershaw for a professional stage career when she was managing her dance troupe Beams' Breezy Babes in the late 1940s.

In 1947, Maureen Kershaw appeared with Beams' Breezy Babes in the pantomime "Cinderella". Although she was recruited into Beams' Breezy Babes primarily as a dancer, Maureen Kershaw's talent for singing could not be ignored by Peggy Beams and soon Maureen's vocals were featured in stage shows. In 1948, during a 13 week engagement with Beams' Breezy Babes at the Derby Castle Opera House in Douglas, Isle of Man, Maureen was spotlighted as a solo singer. During that season on the Isle of Man, Maureen, then only fourteen years of age, sang a duet on the song "Sweet Sixteen" with the famous male vocalist Donald Peers, a popular radio and variety star known as the "Cavalier of Song". It was while performing with Beams' Breezy Babes at the Granada Theatre, Tooting, that Maureen started to gain recognition as a vocalist.

By the Spring of 1949, Maureen Kershaw had embarked on a solo singing career. On 27th June 1949, the teenage singer auditioned for BBC TV at the Nuffield Centre, London under "full Television Studio conditions". On 3rd October 1949, the fifteen year old vocalist sang at the Granada Cinema, Walthamstow, as part of Brian Michie's "Happy Hour Show. Brian Michie was a leading show business impresario who toured the British Isles searching for juvenile talent to feature in his variety shows. That same year, Maureen, still only fifteen years of age, was a finalist in the Miss ABC Beauty Competition at the Dominion Theatre, Walthamstow. (The winner that year was 28 year old Yvonne Brown of Wood Street, Walthamstow).

[ABOVE] The well-known show business impresario Bryan Michie applies make-up to fifteen year old singer Maureen Kershaw before she takes the stage at one of Bryan Michie's "Happy Hour" shows in London (1949). Bryan Michie made regular tours across Britain seeking young talent. It was while searching for young talent in the north of England in 1938, that Bryan Michie discovered Ernie Wise of Morecambe & Wise fame. Bryan Michie mounted talent shows in theatres and cinemas across the country during the 1940s and 1950s. It was at the Granada Cinema in Walthamstow that Bryan Michie first showcased the talent of teenage singer Maureen Kershaw. Bryan Michie was involved in talent competitions throughout his career. In 1962, Bryan Michie produced a television talent show called "Now's Your Chance".

[ABOVE] Bryan Michie, one of the leading show business impresarios and radio personalities in post-war Britain. A former actor, Bryan Michie was well known for his ability to spot and develop young talent. Michie brought a number of young performers to the attention of Jack Hylton, a former band leader who produced theatrical entertainments in London. In 1938, while touring the north of England in search of new juvenile talent, Michie spotted thirteen year old Ernest Wiseman and recommended him to Jack Hylton, who was looking for a young performer to appear in his show "Bandwagon". Jack Hylton signed up the youthful comedian, but gave him the stage name of Ernie Wise. The following year, Bryan Michie was instrumental in introducing Ernie Wise to a young comedian later to be known as Eric Morecambe. In 1939, Bryan Michie was organising a series of juvenile talent shows and auditions across the country for a  revue called "Youth Takes a Bow". Ernie Wise was on the judging panel of Brian Michie's talent show at the Swansea Empire in 1939 when Eric Bartholomew (Morecambe) auditioned. As well as being a talent scout and impresario, Bryan Michie also made his mark on radio. Bryan Michie became an interviewer for the BBC radio shoe "In Town Tonight" and presented  "Housewives Choice" on the Light Programme.

By 1951, Maureen Kershaw had her own agent and a personal business manager. Maureen Kershaw's music agent was George Elrick (1903-1999), a Scottish-born impresario who had previously performed as a drummer and band leader and had been a popular singing star and recording artist during the Second World War. In 1951, George Elrick of Majestic Entertainments Limited secured Maureen Kershaw's first appearance as a solo singer on a variety programme. In October 1951, Maureen Kershaw appeared in the variety show "It's Beauty with Fun", produced by Harry Dennis, at the Grand Theatre, Luton. In this production at Luton's Grand Theatre, her first major appearance as a solo vocalist, Maureen Kershaw was billed as "the New Singing Star".

Maureen Kershaw's career as a singer and stage performer really took off in 1952. In April 1952, she signed a contract for a two week stint at the Palladium Theatre, Edinburgh. Her performances in Edinburgh led Maureen Kershaw to be invited to be the resident singer during the Summer season at the Palace Theatre, Dundee. By the end of the year, Maureen Kershaw had made her West End debut, singing in a London cabaret. An impressive first year as a solo singer and performer culminated with an invitation to take on the role of Dandini in Tom Arnold's production of "Cinderella" at the Theatre Royal, Birmingham, alongside Max Bygraves, Adele Dixon, George Bolton and Virginia Vernon. Maureen's performance in "Cinderella" received favourable reviews. One critic, W. H. Bush, remarked that "Maureen Kershaw's Danini is perhaps the best one I remember having seen."

In December 1954, Maureen Kershaw took on the lead role of Aladdin in the Christmas pantomime produced by Lew Grade and Leslie Grade at the Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton. This production of "Aladdin" featured the singer Teddy Johnson, Patricia Bakerand The Three Monarchs, a trio of comedy-musicians. The local press gave Maureen favourable views, remarking on her attractive appearance and clear voice. Maureen Kershaw was to take the part of Principal Boy in a number of Christmas pantomimes over the coming years, appearing alongside famous popular singers of the day, including Lonnie Donegan and Joe Brown, the lead singer with Joe Brown and the Bruvvers.

[ABOVE] Maureen Kershaw photographed in her dressing room before a performance. Maureen's name has been written on the mirror. By this time Maureen was appearing regularly on stage as a solo singer.

[ABOVE] Another photograph of Maureen Kershaw posing in front of a mirror in her dressing room before a performance. At this time Maureen was being featured as a solo singer.

[ABOVE]  Jack Kershaw and Lily Kershaw, Maureen Kershaw's parents, pictured in late middle-age. Lily Herbert, Maureen's mother, was born in Bethnal Green, London, on 10th October 1907. Lily's husband Jack was born John Daniel Kershaw on 21st May 1905, the eighth of 13 children born to Ann Heath and James Meadowcroft Kershaw, an engineer's fitter from Rochdale, Lancashire.

[ABOVE] Fourteen year old Maureen Kershaw photographed on stage when she was a member of the juvenile dance troupe Beams' Breezy Babes (1947).
[ABOVE] Donald Peers (1908-1973) was one of the leading male singing stars of the 1940s and 1950s. Donald Peers recorded a string of hit songs, including "In a Shady Nook by a Babbling Brook" (1944) and "Powder Your Face with Sunshine"(1948). As a teenager, Maureen Kershaw appeared on stage with Donald Peers, performing a duet on the song "Sweet Sixteen". In  Maureen Kershaw's autograph book, Donald Peers wrote "When you and I sang a duet - you were wonderful". Donald Peers went on to host his own radio programme and, in the 1960s starred in a TV show. [ABOVE] Maureen Kershaw pictured around the time she joined Beams' Breezy Babes, a juvenile dance troupe. In 1948, at the age of fourteen, Maureen Kershaw sang a duet with the popular male singer Donald Peers at the Palace Theatre, Douglas, Isle of Man. For a few years, Maureen was part of the chorus in  Beams' Breezy Babes, but during the 13 week summer season on the Isle of Man, she was given the opportunity to sing solo on two or three songs - "Sweet Sixteen" and "The Hymns My Mother Used to Sing" or  "Old Irish Mother of Mine".

[ABOVE] Maureen Kershaw (left) appearing in the pantomime "Cinderella" with other members of Beams' Breezy Babes in 1947. This production of  "Cinderella" starred Derek Roy and Jean Kent.

[ABOVE] Maureen Kershaw when she was a singer and dancer with  Beams' Breezy Babes (c1947)

[ABOVE] Maureen Kershaw photographed in August 1954 when she was appearing in a summer show in Dundee. This picture of the 20 year old singer appeared in a national weekly newspaper alongside an article about her landing the principal boy role in the Christmas pantomime "Aladdin" at the Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton which was scheduled to start in December 1954. [ABOVE]  George Elrick (1903-1999) Maureen Kershaw's agent during the early 1950s. In 1948, Elrick, who had previously performed as a band leader, vocalist and recording artist, became the presenter of BBC Radio's popular record request programme, "Housewives' Choice". From the late 1940s  Elrick also worked as a music agent, representing musical artistes such as the conductor and musician Mantovani, a performer of light orchestral music

[ABOVE] A poster for a 1953 production of "Cinderella". Maureen Kershaw played the role of Danini in Tom Arnold's production of  "Cinderella", which ran between December 1952 and January 1953 at the Theatre Royal, Birmingham. Appearing alongside Maureen in this Christmas pantomime were Max Bygraves and Adele Dixon. [ABOVE] A theatre programme for a 1950s production of "Aladdin". Maureen Kershaw was the principal boy playing the leading role of Aladdin at The Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton between  December 1954 and January 1955. Maureen's co-star was the popular male tenor David Whitfield.
Maureen Kershaw in Pantomime during the 1950s

[ABOVE] Maureen Kershaw (right) in the role of Dandini in Tom Arnold's production of  "Cinderella", which ran between December 1952 and January 1953 at the Theatre Royal, Birmingham. Appearing alongside Maureen in this Christmas pantomime were Max Bygraves, Adele Dixon, George Bolton and Virginia Vernon.

[ABOVE] Maureen Kershaw as principal boy, playing the leading role of Aladdin at The Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton  (1954). The cast included popular male tenor David Whitfield and the Three Monarchs. This Christmas pantomime  ran between December 1954 and January 1955.


Maureen Kershaw marries Burton Brown and becomes a Mother

[ABOVE] Maureen Kershaw photographed  in the registry office with her first husband Burton Brown, a booking executive with the Lew and Leslie Grade Variety Agency (1955). In the 1930s and 1940s, Burton Brown worked as a professional pianist. (There is a film clip of Burton Brown expertly playing a piano on the tune "Wedding of the Painted Doll" on 11th August 1938 at the Pathe Studios in London, which can be viewed on the internet at

In 1955, Maureen Kershaw married Burton Benjamin Brown, a booking executive with Lew and Leslie Grade's Variety Agency. Burton Brown was born "Baruch Benjamin Braverman" in Minsk, Russia but the family changed their surname to Brown when they emigrated to America. Burton Brown worked as a pianist during the late 1930s and 1940s and his brother Louis/Les Brown was a professional musician in the USA.

On 3rd October, Maureen Kershaw gave birth to her first and only child, a son christened Stephen Daniel Burton Brown.

[ABOVE] Maureen Kershaw photographed in October 1958 with her son Stephen Daniel Burton Brown.

Maureen Kershaw's Singing Career (1952-1960)

 Maureen Kershaw's solo singing career began in October 1951, at the age of 17, when she appeared in the variety show "It's Beauty with Fun", produced by Harry Dennis, at the Grand Theatre, Luton. Maureen's debut at Luton's Grand Theatre was followed by a five months season in Scotland, singing in shows in Edinburgh and Dundee. Maureen was to return to Scotland two years later to sing in a variety show in Glasgow. Interviewed in November 1952 at the beginning of her season in Scotland, Maureen Kershaw praised Scottish audiences: "They're more responsive and friendly than audiences in the south", she told a local newspaper.

Returning to England in September 1952, Maureen Kershaw sang on the cabaret circuit for the remainder of the year. It was while singing at a London cabaret in early December that Maureen was booked to take on the role of 'Dandini' in Tom Arnold's production of the Christmas pantomime Cinderella at the Theatre Royal, Birmingham.

Between 1953 and 1956, Maureen Kershaw sang in cabaret and in various variety shows across the British Isles, but in 1957 she got her big break when she was invited to appear in a television programme called "Top Tunes". Maureen became a regular singer on the "Top Tunes" TV show, covering hit songs of the day. In January 1958, Maureen auditioned for another "pop music" television show entitled "Top Numbers", produced by ABC-TV. After a few weeks, Maureen Kershaw became the resident female singer on the "Top Numbers" TV show, a television programme that showcased the hit pop songs of the day. Maureen would be required to cover hit songs originally recorded by top female vocalists such as Ruby Murray and  Marion Ryan ( "Love Me Forever", "The World Goes Round and Around"). "Top Numbers" went out live on ITV television on Sunday evenings at 10.50 pm. In an interview given in 1958, Maureen described the long sessions in the TV studio, starting at 9.45 am and finishing with a final run through of the songs between 9 and 10, before going on live at 10.50 pm.

During the late 1950s, Maureen Kershaw entertained American forces, singing to US soldiers based at army camps around London. In a 1958 interview, Maureen Kershaw remarked: "I've sung at about 15 American Army camps around London, and I love it. They pay by American standards, so a couple of engagements can often be better economically than a week in variety".

[ABOVE] An interview with Maureen Kershaw in 1958 when she was a "regular singing star of ABC's Sunday night 'Top Numbers' show". In this interview, Maureen Kershaw explained why she preferred performing with the Dennis Ringrowe Orchestra rather than dance bands: "So many bands make such a noise with the brass that they drown out the singers...but Dennis uses plenty of strings -  and my kind of singing needs violins. And unlike dance bands that play a strict tempo, Dennis follows the singers - and there's plenty of songs that are better sung out of tempo". Maureen went on to make it clear that her preference for strings rather than brass was not because she had a weak voice, commenting that if it came to a battle between her voice  and a trumpet section "I could out-blare them any time."

[ABOVE] An advertisement for Maureen Kershaw placed in the magazine "The Performer" (dated 4th September 1952) , which described her as "The Singing Teenage Starlet". A similar advertisement, dated 4th December 1952, carried the description "A Voice in a Million" and "Versatility and Personality". Maureen had just returned from Scotland, where she had performed at the Palladium Theatre, Edinburgh, and a long running summer show in Dundee. The December advertisements in "The Performer" informed the public that Maureen Kershaw was performing in London cabarets and had just been booked for the role of "Dandini" in a Christmas pantomime due to open at the Theatre Royal, Birmingham. At this stage of her career, the eighteen year old singer had a business manager Leon De Valois and a theatrical agent George Elrick, head of Majestic Entertainments Ltd.

[ABOVE] Maureen Kershaw singing on stage with a four-piece band during the 1960s. During this period of her career, Maureen had dyed blonde hair. Maureen Kershaw had performed as a singer in London cabarets since the early 1950s.

Maureen Kershaw's Television Appearances

The first regular television broadcasts began in Britain in 1936, when the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) began to transmit TV programmes to Londoners. The BBC produced a number of programmes over the next few years but had to suspend its television service during the Second World War. A television service was not resumed until June 1946, so when Maureen Kershaw made her TV debut in 1954, British television was still in its infancy.

 Bob Monkhouse

 Tommy Trinder

 British Television in the 1950s - During the mid-1950s, television entertainment was dominated by variety shows. Perhaps the most popular TV show was Val Parnell's "Sunday Night at the London Palladium" which first appeared on the independent channel ATV in 1955 and ran for over twenty years. This TV programme presented a variety show on the stage of a famous London theatre and was presented by well-known comedians and entertainers such as Tommy Trinder, Bob Monkhouse, Dickie Henderson and Bruce Forsyth. "The Billy Cotton Bandshow", a rival variety programme was shown on BBC TV over a ten year period from 1956. Other popular TV programmes of the period included the soap opera "The Grove Family" (1954), the police dramas "Fabian of Scotland Yard" and "Dixon of Dock Green", the science fiction series "Quatermass"(1953-1959) and comedy shows such as "Hancock's Half Hour" (1956). Listings of BBC television programme were published in the weekly magazine Radio Times. Two popular radio programmes of the 1950s are featured on the covers of the Radio Times illustrated above right - "Variety Playhouse"(1953-1963) featuring the comedian Vic Oliver and "Meet the Huggetts" (1953-1961), a comedy series starring Jack Warner and Kathleen Harrison.

In 1954, Maureen Kershaw made her television debut performing "What Shall I Sing?" in Richard Afton's Saturday show "Music Hall" on BBC television. On 24th November 1954, Maureen Kershaw appeared in the television programme "Fast and Loose" alongside June Whitfield, Alexander Gauge, The Tanner Sisters, Cameron Hall, Pat Coombs, Violet Parry, Pamela Barnard, Jean Hart and Jeremy Hawk. "Fast and Loose" was a television comedy sketch show starring and scripted by English comedians Bob Monkhouse and Denis Goodwin. [SEE RIGHT].

[ABOVE] Two pictures of BBC producer Richard Afton, photographed at work in a television studio. Maureen Kershaw made her first appearance on TV performing a song on Richard Afton's Saturday show "Music Hall" on BBC television.

[ABOVE]  A publicity portrait of singer Maureen Kershaw, issued in 1958 when she was the regular female vocalist on ABC TV's Sunday night music show "Top Numbers".

On 26th December 1956, Maureen Kershaw made her third appearance on British TV when she appeared in the Boxing day edition of the ITV panel show "My Wildest Dream". Maureen was questioned by a panel of comedians about her "wildest dream". Maureen remembers receiving a grilling from British comedian Tommy Trinder (1909-1989).

Maureen Kershaw's Appearances in Pop Music TV Shows

[ABOVE, RIGHT] Maureen Kershaw singing in the 1960s. Between 1957 and 1959, Maureen Kershaw made regular appearances on TV shows devoted to pop music. In 1957, Maureen  Kershaw was the female vocalist on "Top Tunes" (1957) and a resident singer on ABC TV's "Top Numbers"(1958).

Early in 1957, there was an attempt to introduce popular music TV programmes aimed specifically at a young audience. In February 1957, TV producer Jack Good launched "Six-Five Special", a BBC television programme which mainly featured "Rock & Roll" and "Skiffle" music. In January 1958, ABC television started to produce a television series for ITV featuring current popular songs. This new pop music TV programme went under the name of "Top Numbers". After a singing audition, Maureen Kershaw was hired by TV producer Arthur Lane. Maureen appeared in the first network version of "Top Numbers" and within a couple of weeks she was asked to become the resident female singer on the show. "Top Numbers" went out fortnightly, late at night, on ITV. The resident male vocalist on the "Top Numbers" show was a young singer called Steve Martin.

When, in 1958, the BBC tried to interfere with the format of "Six-Five Special", the innovative producer of the show, Jack Good, resigned from the BBC and joined the independent television company ABC-TV. Jack Good created a new pop music show designed for teenagers called "Oh Boy !" Jack Good's "Oh Boy !" programme was a non-stop, all-music show broadcasted live from the Hackney Empire Theatre in London. The show was hosted by Tony Hall, a music critic, and Jimmy Henney, a record promoter, and had a regular line up of performers, including Cliff Richard, Marty Wilde, Cuddly Dudley, Cherry Wainer, together with a house-band, Lord Rockingham's XI, and several supporting groups - The Vernon Girls, The Dallas Boys and Neville Taylor & The Cutters. Each week, a selection of special guests were invited to perform on the programme. Amongst the acts featured on the programme were American artists such as Conway Twitty, Brenda Lee and The Ink Spots, home-grown pop stars such as Billy Fury, Tony Sheridan & The Wreckers, Dickie Pride and Dean Webb, plus veteran performers like Lonnie Donegan, Alma Cogan and Shirley Bassey. The first edition of the "Oh Boy !" television programme went out on ITV on Saturday,13th September,1958. Maureen Kershaw was a guest singer in programme No.35 of "Oh Boy !" which was broadcast on Saturday, 9th May, 1959. The final show of the series (No. 38) went out on Saturday, 30th May, 1959.

Maureen Kershaw's other television appearances included a two week session on "Lunch Box", the popular lunchtime magazine TV programme hosted by Noele Gordon and featuring music by Jerry Allen and his Trio. (Produced by ATV Birmingham, "Lunch Box" ran for 8 years between 1956 and 1964). Maureen Kershaw was also a featured vocalist on a programme produced for Anglia TV.

[ABOVE] An item in The Star newspaper commenting on Maureen Kershaw's television debut in Richard Afton's Saturday TV show "Music Hall " (1954).

[ABOVE] Denis Goodwin (left) and Bob Monkhouse (right), the comedy writers who scripted the television sketch show "Fast and Loose" in  which Maureen Kershaw appeared in 1954.

[ABOVE] Maureen Kershaw photographed around the time she appeared on the pop music show " Oh Boy!". Maureen shared the bill with some of the  leading pop acts of the day, including Conway Twitty ("It's Only Make Believe"-1958), Billy Fury ("Maybe Tomorrow"- 1959 ), Marty Wilde ("A Teenager in Love"- 1959), Cuddly Dudley ("Lets Rock While the Rocking's Good" -1958 ) [SEE BELOW], Tony Sheridan & The Wreckers ("I Like Love"- 1959), Dean Webb ("It's Late"-1959) and Dickie Pride ("Slippin' and Slidin'"-1959).  Maureen had previously sung on an earlier pop music show - ABC TV's "Top Numbers"(1958).

Performers in the pop music TV show "Oh Boy!" (09/05/59)

Marty Wilde (born 1939, S. London)

Billy Fury (born 1940, Liverpool)

Cuddly Dudley (born 1929, Jamaica)

Conway Twitty (born 1933, Mississippi)


A Selection of Hit Records in Britain (1957-1959)

 Singing the Blues

 Guy Mitchell (US)

No.1 (04/01/57)

 All Shook Up  Elvis Presley (US)  No.1 (12/07/57)
 Diana  Paul Anka (US)  No.1 (30/08/57)
 Puttin' On The Style  Lonnie Donegan (UK)  No.1 (28/06/57)
 That'll Be The Day  The Crickets (US)

No.1 (01/11/57)

 Great Balls of Fire  Jerry Lee Lewis (US)  No.1 (10/01/58)
 The Story of My Life  Michael Holliday  No.1 (14/02/58)
 Who's Sorry Now?  Connie Francis (US)  No.1 (16/05/58)
 It's Only Make Believe  Conway Twitty  No.1 (19/12/58)
 As I Love You  Shirley Bassey (UK)  No.1 (20/02/59)
 Dream Lover  Bobby Darin (US)  No.1 (03/07/59)
 Living Doll  Cliff Richard (UK)

No.1 (31/07/59)

 Only Sixteen  Craig Douglas (UK)  No.1 (11/09/59)
 What Do You Want?

 Adam Faith (UK)

No.1 (04/12/59)

[ABOVE] Maureen Kershaw sang versions of popular songs on television between 1957 and 1959, but many of the hit songs of the period were not suitable vehicles for her voice. On her TV pop shows Maureen covered the songs of the few female singers that made the charts (e.g. "Love Me Forever" by Marion Ryan, which reached No.5 in the pop charts in 1958).


Maureen Kershaw's Pantomime Career

Maureen Kershaw appeared in pantomime for many years. When she was a young teenager, Maureen featured in the chorus of a number of pantomimes as a member of Beams' Breezy Babes, but in 1952, at the age of 18, she secured a leading role in the part of 'Dandini' in the pantomime "Cinderella" and from 1954 she was regularly cast as the Principal Boy in seasonal pantomimes.

Maureen Kershaw (far left) in the chorus of  "Cinderella" (1947)

Cinderella  - Derby Castle Theatre Royal, Douglas
Maureen Kershaw as a member of the dance troupe Beams' Breezy Babes appeared in the chorus of the pantomime "Cinderella" at Douglas on the Isle of Man. The stars of "Cinderella" were Derek Roy and Jean Kent.

Jean Kent

Derek Roy

December 1951 - January 1952
Aladdin  - The Globe Theatre, Stockton
Maureen Kershaw plays 'Aladdin' alongside popular comedian Hal Monty, who took the role of 'Wishee Washee'.

Hal Monty

Maureen Kershaw

December 1952 - January 1953
Cinderella  - Theatre Royal, Birmingham
Maureen Kershaw played 'Dandini'. Other members of the cast included Max Bygraves, Adele Dixon, George Bolton and Virginia Vernon.

Adele Dixon

Max Bygraves

December 1954 - January 1955
Aladdin  - The Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton
Maureen Kershaw plays the title role in 'Aladdin'. Other cast members include the popular singer David Whitfield and the comedy music trio The Three Monarchs.

The Three Monarchs - a comic harmonica-playing trio.

 David Whitfield

December 1956 - January 1957
Aladdin -  at the Granada Theatre, Sutton
Maureen Kershaw performs alongside television and radio comedian Bill Maynard.

Maureen Kershaw

Bill Maynard

1957 -1958
 Aladdin -  Empire Theatre, Chiswick
Maureen Kershaw stars as the Principal Boy plays 'Aladdin'. alongside skiffle star Lonnie Donegan.

Maureen Kershaw

Lonnie Donegan

December 1963 - January 1964
Aladdin  -  Granada Theatre, Shrewsbury
Maureen Kershaw plays 'Aladdin'. The star of the show was pop singer Joe Brown
December 1965 - January 1966
Mother Goose -  Pavilion Theatre, Bournemouth
December 1972 - January 1973
Sinbad the Sailor -  Civic Centre, North Peckham

[ABOVE] A poster for a 1953 production of "Cinderella". Maureen Kershaw played the role of Danini in Tom Arnold's production of  "Cinderella", which ran between December 1952 and January 1953 at the Theatre Royal, Birmingham. Appearing alongside Maureen in this Christmas pantomime were Max Bygraves and Adele Dixon. [ABOVE] A theatre programme for a 1950s production of "Aladdin". Maureen Kershaw was the principal boy playing the leading role of Aladdin at The Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton between  December 1954 and January 1955. Maureen's co-star was the popular male tenor David Whitfield.

[ABOVE] Maureen Kershaw in the role of Dandini in Tom Arnold's production of  "Cinderella", at the Theatre Royal, Birmingham, in 1952.


[ABOVE] A teenage Maureen Kershaw,  photographed in costume (c1953).

[ABOVE]  Maureen Kershaw poses on the set of Aladdin with singer David Whitfield (left) and actor Tony Steadman (1954). [ABOVE]  Maureen Kershaw, in Aladdin costume, pictured alongside comedian Bill Maynard in December 1956.

[ABOVE] Maureen Kershaw as principal boy, playing the leading role in the pantomime Aladdin at The Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton  (1954).

[ABOVE] Maureen Kershaw in pantomime costume with her second husband actor and singer Michael Collins (c1972)

[ABOVE] The programme for the Christmas pantomime Aladdin, starring the pop singer Joe Brown, which began its run at the Granada Theatre, Shrewsbury, in  December 1964. [ABOVE] Maureen Kershaw poses with pop singer Joe Brown for a publicity photograph for the Christmas pantomime Aladdin which ran at the Granada Theatre, Shrewsbury from  December 1964 until January 1965.

[ABOVE] Maureen Kershaw signs a theatrical contract in the mid 1960s.

[ABOVE] Maureen Kershaw performing in the 1960s

Maureen Kershaw's Theatrical Career

Although Maureen Kershaw was primarily a female vocalist, she often acted on the stage both in pantomime (see above) and in theatrical productions. Maureen Kershaw appeared in a non-singing role in the stage comedy "The Amorous Prawn" written by Anthony Kimmins. "The Amorous Prawn" ran at the Theatre Royal, Bath and the Palace Theatre, Westcliff-on-Sea between 1962 and 1963. The play, which was directed by actor John Gordon Ash, had a cast which included Alec Bregonzi, Patricia Burke, John Hart Dyke and Louis Hasler. During the same period, Maureen landed a starring role in "Stop the World - I Want to Get Off", a musical created by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley. Maureen starred as "Evie", the wife of the lead character "Littlechap", played by Trevor Griffiths. This production of the Bricusse and Newley musical went on tour in July 1963, playing at the Theatre Royal, Bath and the Palace Theatre, Westcliff-on-Sea.

[ABOVE] Two scenes from the movie "The Amorous Prawn", a film based on the 1959 stage comedy of the same name by Anthony Kimmins (1901-1964). Maureen Kershaw appeared in a touring production of the play between 1962 and 1963.

[ABOVE] A poster advertising the Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley musical "Stop the World -  I Want to Get Off", in which Maureen Kershaw co-starred in the summer of 1963. The book, music and lyrics were created by the partnership of  Leslie Bricusse (born 1931) and the actor and singer Anthony Newley (1931-1999), who appeared in the starring role of "Littlechap" when the musical opened in London's West End on  20th July 1961.

[ABOVE] Maureen Kershaw poses with Trevor Griffiths, her co-star, in the Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley musical "Stop the World -  I Want to Get Off" in a touring show produced in 1963. Trevor Griffiths, played the role of the main character 'Littlechap' and Maureen Kershaw co-starred as Evie or Mrs Littlechap, the wife of the protagonist, plus all the other ladies in his life. Maureen played the role of Mrs Littlechap (etc.) at the Theatre Royal, Bath and the Palace Theatre, Westcliff-on-Sea during July 1963. "Stop the World -  I Want to Get Off" included the hit song "What Kind of Fool Am I?" Maureen Kershaw sang the song "Typically English" in the show.


[ABOVE] Maureen Kershaw (seated front, right) photographed with fellow cast members in the stage comedy "Doctor at Sea". Examining Maureen with a stethoscope is Robin Lloyd, who played 'Dr. Simon Sparrow'. Standing top left is actor and TV star  Jerry Desmonde, who took the role of 'Captain Wentworth Hogg' in this 1960s stage adaptation of the comedy film "Doctor at Sea", originally screened in 1955.

 Maureen Kershaw's Career after 1965

[ABOVE] The singing duo Maureen & Michael pictured in the mid 1960s. After Maureen Kershaw married singer Michael Collins they formed a husband and wife singing act under the name of Maureen & Michael, performing in cabaret and pantomime together. This photograph was used as publicity when  Maureen & Michael were performing at a night club in Sheffield in 1966.

Maureen & Michael - Maureen Kershaw and Michael Collins

In 1965, Maureen Kershaw married Michael Collins, an actor and singer. For a period of time, the couple ran the famous "The Old Bull & Bush" public house in Hampstead, North London. Maureen and Michael Collins also formed a singing duo called Maureen & Michael and toured the provinces performing in cabaret and at night clubs such as the Ace of Clubs in Sheffield. During the Summer of 1968, Maureen and Michael were performing in the West Midlands, singing at venues such as The Barn, Hockley Heath, Solihull.

In the Summer of 1972, the singing act of Maureen & Michael were entertaining holidaymakers at the Butlin's Holiday Camp on Barry Island in South Wales. Returning to south London, Maureen & Michael performed in an Old Tyme Music Hall at the Civic Centre, North Peckham in November 1972 and then appeared together the following month at the same venue in the Christmas pantomime "Sinbad the Sailor".

1973 marked Maureen Kershaw's retirement from show business. Maureen Kershaw found work in catering management at Compass UK, a large company providing food services. Divorced from Michael Collins, Maureen married Paul Gaterell, but divorced him after just 3 years of marriage.

On the 20th May 1989, Maureen Kershaw married her fourth husband John Weller. Around this time, Maureen worked at Gateway House, Basingstoke, employed by Wiggins Teape, a firm of paper manufacturers. In 1992, Maureen and her husband John Weller moved to Ireland to breed and train greyhounds.


[ABOVE] Gateway House, Basingstoke, the head office of Wiggins Teape, paper manufacturers, where Maureen Kershaw worked around 1980.

[ABOVE] Maureen Kershaw and her  second husband Michael Collins,  photographed around the time they were running "The Old Bull & Bush" pub in Hampstead, London.

[ABOVE] "The Old Bull & Bush" public house in Hampstead,  London, which Maureen and Michael Collins managed in the mid 1960s.

 Maureen Kershaw in Ireland (1992-2005)
  In 1992, Maureen Kershaw and her husband John moved to Cuffesgrange, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland, where they purchased The Old School House, a Victorian building which had been built around 1835 by Lord Desart for the education of the children of his estate workers. At Cuffesgrange, Maureen and John Weller established Foxcover Kennels, a business concerned with the breeding and training of racing greyhounds.

In September 2005, Maureen and John Weller sold The Old School House at Cuffesgrange and moved back to England, eventually settling in Poole, Dorset.

[ABOVE] Mrs Maureen Weller (formerly Maureen Kershaw) photographed  in 1989 with two of her greyhounds near her kennels in Kilkenny, Ireland. [ABOVE] Mrs Maureen Weller (formerly Maureen Kershaw) photographed in 1990 with two of her greyhounds at the Foxcover Kennels, near Kilkenny, Ireland.
In 2010, Maureen Kershaw was living in retirement in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex.

To view a selection of photographs and cuttings from Maureen Kershaw's Show Business Scrapbook, click on the link below:

Maureen Kershaw's Show Business Scrapbook



 I am grateful to Mrs Maureen Weller (Maureen Kershaw) for providing information on her show business career and for supplying photographs and newspaper cuttings from her personal archive.


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