Stage star’s return home

Dottie Wayne at The Royal Hall. Photo by Mike Hine.
Dottie Wayne at The Royal Hall. Photo by Mike Hine.

A HARROGATE-BORN star of the stage returned to her hometown, taking time to drop in on the Royal Hall, the theatre where she first walked the boards.

Dorothy Wilkinson, known as Dottie Wayne on stage, recently returned to visit relatives in the town and took the opportunity to call up an old friend in Mike Hine of the Royal Hall Restoration Trust who offered to give her a full tour of the recently restored building.

Dottie, who was clearly overjoyed to see the restoration work, said: “I think it is absolutely wonderful and far better than I ever imagined.

“Just to see the gold sparkle really shows off this beautiful theatre where my career started.”

Dottie left Harrogate Grammar school in 1953, for a job at Martin’s Bank on the site now occupied by the Britannia Building Society, before a surprise offer came along to represent Harrogate alongside two friends on the Top Town national radio programme.

From there she was spotted by TV producer, Barney Colehan, and asked to take part in a TV show he was recording at the Royal Hall, which in turn led to her first professional engagement, a 22-week season in Filey earning the young performer a grand total of £10 a week.

Dottie spent the next 50 years performing all over the UK, in summer seasons, pantomimes, cabarets and alongside some of the biggest names in entertainment including Bernie Clifton, Russ Conway, Jimmy Cricket, Bruce Forsyth, Vince Hill, Peggy Mount, Des O’Connor and Jimmy Tarbuck, just to name a few.

After putting away the guitar, and retiring her handbells and her famous whistling, Dottie emigrated to Australia to be closer to her son and daughter but still gives the occasional talk on her show business career aptly titled ‘A Funny Way to Earn a Living!‘