Norman Evans (1901-1962)

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Norman Evans (11 June 1901 – 25 November 1962), was a variety and radio performer, born in Rochdale, Lancashire, England.Evans was discovered by fellow Rochdale entertainer Gracie Fields. The act for which he is best remembered was "Over the Garden Wall", in which he played Fanny Fairbottom, a toothless hatchet-faced Lancastrian housewife gossiping over a garden wall, The routine was the inspiration for Les Dawson and Roy Barraclough's later Cissie and Ada characters. The one-sided conversations would embrace local gossip, including scandal about the neighbours and personal medical complaints, including silently mouthing words deemed too rude to be spoken out loud, and accompanied with a range of facial contortions and glances round for supposed eavesdroppers. Another famous stage sketch was "The Dentist" in which Evans played both patient and dentist, and in which he employed a large screen. Both this sketch and "Over the Garden Wall" are viewable on YouTube.His first appearance on the London stage was alongside a young Betty Driver. Evans was the only pantomime dame to receive top billing at the London Palladium.His final summer season was at Butlin's Holiday Camp, Pwllheli in 1962. He wrote to Clarkson Rose (another top pantomime dame) "Working in a Butlin theatre is a terrific experience, and although I've not been too well, I've never been happier in my life".Norman Evans is buried in Carleton Cemetery, Blackpool. The headstone of his grave is a low wall built from natural gritstone blocks. His epitaph (preceding birth and death dates) reads "Norman's last garden wall!"

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