Your friends the stars – 10

Sally Barnes

Rare indeed is the artist who can stir the viewing public to enthusiasm by a first appearance. When Sally Barnes came to TV in one of Henry Hall’s Face the Music shows, there was no doubt of the impact she made. Here was good fun with a hint of that pathos which begets affection for a likeable waif. Sally Barnes went straight to the heart.

The BBC, rocking under criticism of its variety shows, leapt at Sally as though she were the answer to a prayer. They gave her a series.

But it was almost as though the pathetic character in her act had now got a hold on her work. That night she had been an undoubted and an all but unparalleled success; but her next TV appearances, having lost the freshness of novelty, seemed to have nothing fine or big enough with which to maintain her talent. Sally is enjoyable viewing at any time; but there is an uneasy feeling about that the fanfare came too soon.

This the twenty-seven-year-old Sally knows. She has been “in the business” since girlhood, and that is long enough to equip her to “take it.” Henry Hall had found her in a seaside show at Scarborough, in 1953. Prior to that she had spent nine years plodding round provincial music halls, and in seaside concert parties — in one of which she met her husband, Bobby Beaumont, an impressionist and straight actor.

Before her TV début, Henry Hall had offered her a contract in his touring stage show, and she had to decline this because she was expecting a baby. The tour was postponed for other reasons, and a month after baby Laura arrived Sally was able to go out with the show.

After her initial TV success her name crept up from the foot of the music-hall bills to the middle, and then to the top. This, TV did for Sally Barnes — and provided the privilege of appearing before the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, when they visited the Lime Grove studios.

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