Monday, 18 June 2012

Flying Picket Brian Hibbard Remembered

The Flying Pickets: 
Live At The Albany Empire LP
I was at work in the office this morning when news came through of the passing of Welsh actor Brian Hibbard.

Hibbard had become a familiar face over the last 25 years in various TV roles including series such as Emmerdale, Coronation Street and the Welsh drama Pobl Y Cwm while Doctor Who fans will no doubt remember him as Keillor in the 1950s holiday camp flavoured adventure Delta and The Bannermen which featured Sylvester McCoy as the Doctor.

Of course those with longer memories will remember Ebbw Vale born Brian as the lead singer of The Flying Pickets who shot to Number One in Christmas 1983 with their a cappella version of Yazoo's Only You. When seeing Yazoo vocalist Alison Moyet in concert a few years ago, she joked after singing Only You "People still stop me and ask why do you sing a Flying Pickets song?"

The reverse The Albany Empire LP 
- a snip at 99p from Woolworths 
in Richmond, North Yorkshire 
back in 1987!
The Flying Pickets were founded by Brian himself and a reference to mobile strikers who travel in order to join a picket. Brian formed the group with a group of actors who he had known from John McGrath's 7:84 Fringe Theatre Group who had performed a cappella in a 1981 production One Big Blow.

The group gained television exposure shortly afterwards and I remember enjoying their slots on Jasper Carrott's late Saturday night BBC1 comedy series. Each week the band would give a unique twist to a popular rock classic their rendition of the Righteous Brothers You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' been the most memorable.

Thumbing through my old record collection I have a copy of The Flying Pickets Live At The Albany Empire recorded in 1982 in London. I seem to remember finding this for 99p in Woolworths and the purchase date inside is 21/04/87. No.114 in my vinyl collection its a great listen featuring the aforementioned version of Loving Feelin', Heard It Through the Grapevine Get Off My Cloud, Not Fade Away and Lady Madonna.

A Newport Riverfront 
Flyer featuring
Brian Hibbard in 

pantomime in 2007
Jumping forward two decades I was quite chuffed when my first pantomime review for The South Wales Argus was to be for Jack and The Beanstalk at Newport Riverfront which featured Brian Hibbard as the villain. He gave a fabulous performance and it was clear the audience loved to hate him.

In the press suite afterwards while I was chatting to Fairy Godmother Jane Tucker from Rainbow with my five year old daughter, Brian Hibbard a tall almost foreboding presence strode in.

Looking at me with my daughter he challenged: "Who are you?"

"Andy Howells", I replied "reviewer from The South Wales Argus"

"Reviews?" he said with a mischievous glint in his eye, "never read 'em!"

As he moved away I just looked on, so I never got to ask him about The Flying Pickets or Doctor Who but at least he had a joke at my expense!

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