He’s played some of the biggest theatres in the West End, appeared on the Royal Variety Performance and had his own TV series, but now star entertainer Brian Conley is set to play a tiny show in a Cardiff pub.
The comedian, actor and singer will take to the stage at the Four Bars venue, upstairs at Dempseys pub in the city centre for a charity show in aid of Ty Hafan – which offers care and support to families with life-limited children.
And it all stems from his time in panto at the New Theatre in 2010 when he appeared as Buttons in Cinderella.
“I met a few of the parents who brought their children to along to the pantomime in Cardiff and it just really touched me,” recalled Conley.
“To be told that your child has not got long is so devastating, I can’t imagine how it must feel to be in that situation. I’ve got two lovely girls and I count myself so lucky.
“I felt I’ve just got to do something in a small way and this will be a fun night with a great band and myself in an intimate setting.”
Last year, whilst appearing as Fagin in Cameron Mackintosh’s Oliver at The Theatre Royal in Plymouth, the entertainer was moved by a story he read in the local paper about a young girl living with a life-limiting illness. Conley organised a charity variety gig while he was in the Devon town and is now hosting a similar event in Cardiff.
The show on Sunday, June 16, will see the 51-year-old appearing with his own band, with support from local group Miss May and the Magic.
“I’m doing a big tour later in the year so I’ll be trying out some new material,” he said. “But I’m happy to do it and delighted that the money is going to a great charity, something I feel so strongly about. It’s the least I could do.”
The comic is no stranger to the pubs and clubs of Cardiff as he used to live in the city.
“One of the first jobs I ever had was in Welsh comedy showband Tomfoolery,” remembered the performer, who started his career as a holiday camp entertainer, working as a Pontin’s Bluecoat from the age of 16.
“It was 1979 if I remember rightly and I was 19. I was with them for four years when I lived in Wales. I loved it down there.”
He revealed that he joined the band by default and had his very first panto to thank for his big break. Even if it meant displacing another famous face in Owen Money in the process.
The comic, then known by his real name Lynn Mittell, was the frontman of the comedy group at the time.
“The story is that they were looking for a drummer and I volunteered my services, even though I’ve never drummed in my life,” said Conley. “I was just a young kid looking for a break.
“I didn’t know that the rest of the band had got the hump with Lynn because he was getting rid of the drummer. Anyway to cut a long story short I was thrown in as the frontman!
Tomfoolery gave Conley his big break when he was subsequently spotted and started working as a warm-up man for television personalities such as The Krankies, Kenny Everett and Terry Wogan.
“It was a tremendous learning curve for me. I was so young but it was great fun. I was hooked. I’d found something that I loved and have continued to love throughout the years.”
Tickets for Brian Conley’s Cardiff show are priced £30 via www.seetickets.com – with all proceeds going to Ty Hafan.