Buzz is currently working a novel and some radio plays but, as he misses you all so much, he's coming out to play with Billy and the Bradshaws in venues near you soon
Check here for forthcoming dates ...
Featuring Bradshaws songs and sketches, "Sadie", "The Raji Singsong", "Country Billy Gerkin" and many more
Out Now from the CORNER SHOP
John Henshaw, Peter Kay, Sally Lindsey, Eamonn O'Neal, Smug Roberts, Bernard Wrigley, CP Lees celebrate the amazing Bradshaws legacy
BBC's Eamonn O'Neal writes a Manchester Evening News review of "The Bradshaws An' All That" hard-back comic book.
Even though it looks and feels very much like an 'annual', we're resisting the temptation to call it one because 'annual' it won't be. This really is a one-off. You won't see one of these every year!
THE BRADSHAWS STORY SO FAR ... One night in 1983 Buzz Hawkins, a night-beat musician on Piccadilly Radio Manchester, decided to try something different. He told a story instead of singing a song. And so Alf, Audrey and little Billy Bradshaw began life as radio characters. The Bradshaws are now real people and anyone who thinks otherwise is fictitious. As with all radio, how the characters looked was all in the mind. Every listener probably conjured up slightly different images based on their own family and friends.
When Buzz finally gave in to public demand and agreed to release some of the stories on cassette tape (remember those cute little contraptions that wrapped themselves around the insides of your car radio?), artwork was needed, so he sketched up his image of the family. He drew them facing away with their backs to the camera.
But why draw the characters facing away from us? He says it was to allow listeners to continue to put their own faces to Alf, Audrey, and little Billy Bradshaw. Oh yes, and the presenters (Gary Davis, Phil Wood, Timmy Mallet, James Stannage, Mike Day, Andy Crane, or whoever) were asked not to reveal that Buzz Hawkins did all the voices. Ooh, the magic of mystery!
Even in the 1994 Granada Television series "The Bradshaws" the producers weren't allowed to show the faces of mam and dad. However, Billy Bradshaw and pal Michael Morris weren't at all camera shy, much to the relief of the senior camera man.
More about the Television series later.
For the cassette releases Buzz's pal, Mossy (artist and caricaturist Dave Moss), re-drew Buzz's sketch and produced the logo which has been attached to the Bradshaws tapes, CDs, and videos ever since. Over the years, aside from the logo, the Bradshaws family characters have visually altered - probably because quite a few artists have been involved in Bradshaws projects and no two artist styles are the same. Lots of fans have applied their talents to drawing the family too, and we've included some of their art with names of the perpetrators where possible.
So here, in no particular order (well, maybe a bit of order), are some of the drawings and photos that have been generated in the 30 year (so far) history of the nation's favourite funny family, collected together here for you in "The Bradshaws Scrapbook", along with a bit of a biog...
A drawing sent in by fan Dave Hulson in the early days, or rather nights, as the Bradshaws stories were then broadcast in the wee small hours when the radio station bosses were asleep. Dave later sculpted a plaque which now hangs proudly in Buzz's Lancashire-based Hawkins Studio 215 recording & production studios.
Buzz asked permission of the radio station bosses to produce a cassette of the Bradshaws stories 'for a few night-time listeners'. By the time the radio station bosses cottoned on, he'd sold thousands. They invited him to produce daytime radio and to "Bring the Bradshaws with you"
In 1986 Buzz began producing the morning segment (Mark Radcliffe looked after the afternoons). Of course, having the stories on daytime radio meant the cassette sales soared, as did the demand for more.
And whilst the Bradshaws stories were running on Phil Wood's late morning show, little Billy Bradshaw was making a name for himself on Tim Grundy's Breakfast show with the Billy Bradshaw Brainbuster quiz. What a wacky show that was, with a line-up of presenter Tim Grundy, producer Buzz Hawkins, assistant Chris Evans, and of course little Billy Bradshaw.
Poor little Billy was working harder than his uncle Buzz, being in demand for voicing promos and adverts. And when the local police force asked him to front their road saftety campaign, well..
(Fact: Billy Bradshaw's "Easy Peasy Song" reached number 109 in the UK charts)
Before the Easy Peasy Song 7" single, Buzz produced "The Dead Good Hadventures of Billy Bradshaw". But thinking that his audience was mainly adult and wouldn't be interested in kiddies adventure stories, Buzz only produced a few hundred of these cassettes. They sold out in a day! He promises to re-release the Dead Good Hadventures one day. Maybe with a book?
And so the fan club grew and grew. Fans sent drawings and presents...
Up to then most of the interest had only been local, mainly in the north-west of England. Having said that though, there are a quite a few million people living in the north-west so 'only local' doesn't necessarily mean 'only small'. It was more than enough for one man and his imagination.
Eventually, though, the word about the Bradshaws spread far and wide and along came one Mr Robert Maxwell to publish a series of comics "The Bradshaws An' All That".
Buzz teamed up with cartoonist John Geerings to come up with the imagery. The cartoon of Billy was based an old school photo of Buzz, and issues 1 and 2 sold out. Issue 3 had gone to press and was about to land on the newsagents' counters when Mr Maxwell mysteriously disappeared off his yacht - which was nothing to do with the Bradshaws, of course. But that was the end of the comic.
And then, inevitably, it started to happen: the very thing that Buzz had been secretly dreading - requests to do 'live' shows.
That should have been a doddle because live performance was (and is) a way of life for Buzz Hawkins. But it wasn't him they wanted! It was the Bradshaws! Fortunately he didn't take it personally.
As it happened, Buzz had at that time been doing some writing and voice-acting for a Manchester team who specialised in model animation. Step forward Peter Minister. Peter and Buzz began developing a life-size model of Billy Bradshaw which, it was hoped, would make it possible for him to appear on stage. Cue: big job breaking out!
Mk3 Billy's first big public outing was to provide pre-match entertainment with the late great Frank Sidebottom for an FA Cup semi-final.
Manchester United were due to play Oldham Athletic at Maine Road and the stadium was packed with 47,000 fans. Wow!
MORE PIX AND BIOG COMING VERY SOON.. STAY TUNED!
Where are they?
Where have they been?