This is the biography of the late entertainer Roy Castle. For details of the contemporary musician, see Martin Chitty (Roy Castle)
Roy Castle OBE (born August 31, 1932 in Scholes, near Holmfirth; died September 2, 1994) was an English dancer, singer, comedian, actor, television presenter and musician. He attended Honley High School. where there is now a building in his name. He was a talented jazz trumpet player.
He was diagnosed with lung cancer in January 1992 and died in September 1994, just two days after his 62nd birthday. He blamed his illness on years of playing the trumpet in smoky jazz clubs, having never been a regular smoker in his life and not even tried a cigarette since his schooldays.
In the final years of his life, he started the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation and raised money to fund a cancer centre in Liverpool. The centre opened in 1998, four years after his death.
Shortly before his death, he embarked on the Tour of Hope which raised funds for the foundation.
The son of a railwayman, he was a tap dancer from an early age and after leaving Holme Valley Grammar School, he started his career as an entertainer in an amateur concert party, turning professional in 1953 as a stooge for Jimmy Clitheroe and Jimmy James. By 1958 he was appearing at the Royal Variety Show.
In the mid-1960s he starred in the BBC television show The Roy Castle Show. In 1965, he appeared in the film Dr. Who and the Daleks, playing the role of Doctor Who's first male assistant, Ian Chesterton, quite differently from the way it had been played in the original television series, and in Dr. Terror's House of Horrors as a jazz musician suffering a curse after copying voodoo tunes. He also appeared in Carry On up the Khyber in 1968. From the 1970s he presented Record Breakers, a children's show. He recorded the theme song for the show himself. While presenting the show he broke several world records himself, including
Longest wing walk
Playing the same tune on 43 different instruments in four minutes
In 1973 Castle teamed up with The actor & comedian Ronnie Barker in the original one-off called Another Fine Mess which was an episode from a series called Seven of One. However Castle was also one of Ronnie Barkers best friends.
He also once stood in for Bruce Forsyth hosting The Generation Game in 1975 while Forsyth was ill.
As a young performer in the 1950s, he lived in Cleveleys near Blackpool and appeared there at the local Queen's Theatre.
Throughout his adult life Roy Castle suffered from agoraphobia. For the greater part of his career as an entertainer he was unhindered by the condition - but his role as the main presenter of Record Breakers proved challenging at times. Unfortunately for Roy, many of the multi-person record-breaking attempts were recorded in the vast BBC TC1 studio at Television Centre. At 995 square metres (10,250 ft²), TC1 is one of the largest television studios in Europe. The prospect of several hundred hula-hooping schoolgirls or bagpiping soldiers inside a large studio would cause Roy great anxiety. However, he prided himself on being a professional entertainer and he improvised many novel ways of managing his condition. For example, when filming in TC1 he would arrange with the producer to have a large wicker laundry basket placed out of camera shot, into which he would dive to take refuge from his panic attacks. His co-host Cheryl Baker would often sit on the basket, thus providing Roy with the comforting knowledge that the lid could not be accidentally removed.
He was married to the dancer Fiona Dickson from 1963 until his death. They had four children. Their youngest son, Ben Castle, is a successful jazz saxophonist who has played with Jamie Cullum, Carleen Anderson and Beth Rowley, among many others. Both Roy and his wife were committed Christians and they regularly attended the Baptist church near their home.
Castle was also a keen football fan and supported Liverpool Football Club. Less than five months before his death, he attended the Liverpool-Everton derby match at Anfield on 14 April 1994. He stood on the famous Spion Kop terrace, as it was the last local derby that would be staged before the Kop was demolished to make way for a new all-seater stand. He had also been in the crowd at Liverpool's FA Cup final victory over Sunderland in May 1992, shortly after he was first diagnosed with cancer. At that time Ronnie Barker payed tribute to him from how good he & Castle played as the characters who bore a strong resemblance to Laurel & Hardy in Another Fine Mess.
In 1992 Two years before his death, Castle became an OBE.
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