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Frank Sidebottom at the Bull and Gate, Kentish Town, London

Frank Sidebottom is the stage name and persona of the English comedian and musician Chris Sievey. The character is instantly recognisable by his spherical head (styled like an early Max Fleischer cartoon) - this was initially made from papier-mâché, but later rebuilt out of fibreglass.[1]

Frank, usually dressed in a 1950s-style sharp suit, is portrayed as an aspiring pop star from the village of Timperley near Altrincham, Cheshire. His character is optimistic, enthusiastic and seemingly unaware of his failings. Although seemingly middle-aged, he still lives at home with his mother, to whom he makes frequent references. His mother is apparently unaware of her son's popularity. Frank sometimes has a sidekick in the form of "Little Frank", a hand puppet who is otherwise a perfect copy of Frank.

Comedy character Mrs Merton started out as Frank's sidekick on his radio show "Radio Timperley", and the similarity of the characters is evident, exuding a sense of great ambition which belies a domestic lifestyle in the north of England. Sidebottom's former "Oh Blimey Big Band" members include Mark Radcliffe and Jon Ronson, and his driver was Chris Evans.[1]

Contents

History

Frank was first revealed to the world on a 12 inch promotional record which came free with the Chris Sievey-created video game The Biz for the ZX Spectrum computer. The Frank Sidebottom character was initially created to be a fan of Sievey's band The Freshies but the popularity of the character led Sievey to focus his output on Frank Sidebottom comedy records, many of which were put out on the 'In Tape' record label of Manchester[2] and previous to that, the 'Regal Zonophone' label.

He reached cult status in the late eighties/early nineties thanks to extensive touring of the country, and focusing on large towns such as St Helens. Performances were often varied from straight forward stand up comedy and featured novelty components such as tombola, and a lot of crowd interaction. Sometimes the show also included lectures. Contrasting against the alternative comedians of the time, Frank Sidebottom comedy was family-friendly, if a little bizarre for some tastes.

Frank also had his own comic strip in the children's weekly comic Oink! which was launched around the mid 1980s as the children's alternative to Viz.

Frank was perhaps most popular in the North West region of England, where his success was caught up in that of the Madchester scene, and for a time was a regular on regional ITV station Granada. He even featured as a reporter on its regional news programme, Granada Reports. At one point Frank had his own television show on ITV entitled Frank Sidebottom's Fantastic Shed Show.[3] He also made numerous appearances on Channel 4, including the British version of the game show Remote Control which was presented by Anthony H Wilson, where each week he would pose "Frank's Fantastic Question" to the contestants.[4] He also made several appearances on the Television South/ITV Saturday morning childrens show No. 73.

Along with television, the Frank Sidebottom character also made appearances on radio, on stations such as Manchester station Piccadilly Radio and on BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 5, alongside Mark and Lard. [5] [6] [7]

Frank sang the Beatles song Being For the Benefit of Mister Kite on the charity album Sgt. Pepper Knew My Father, which featured other acts like Michelle Shocked, The Christians, Sonic Youth, Billy Bragg, Hue and Cry, The Fall and Wet Wet Wet. [8] [9]

Frank faded into obscurity in the late 1990s, rarely appearing either on TV or live appearances. A one-off performance at Manchester's Club Indigo Vs Manic Street Mania in December 2005 seemed to be the catalyst for a comeback.

In 2006, Frank reappeared in Greater Manchester on local television channel, Channel M. His new show, Frank Sidebottom's Proper Telly Show in B/W, features celebrity guests and animation. The first showing of each show is in black and white ("so you don't have to turn the colour down"), whilst subsequent repeats are shown in full colour. He has also made five appearances on Iain Lee's programme on London's LBC as well as on numerous community radio stations.

A recent appearance has been as a "test card" shown late at night on Channel M, where he and Little Frank ramble on and sing songs whilst framed in a parody of the classic "Test Card F". On 6 March 2007, in an episode of The Podge and Rodge Show, he appeared in their 'Sham-Rock' talent section, performing a medley of songs by The Smiths. He received an overall score of 22 points from judges James Nesbitt and Glenda Gilson, putting him in 1st place for all the series' acts so far.

Frank starred in his own exhibition of drawings, animation and cardboard at London's CHELSEA space gallery next to Tate Britain between 4 July - 4 August 2007. He also appeared at "Late" at Tate Britain on 3 August 2007. [10] [11] [12]

He appeared in the Series 3 Christmas special of BBC Scotland's Videogaiden, performing 'Christmas Is Really Fantastic', and later appeared on the Series 3 Awards show, and the final web-exclusive episode ("Closedown").

Appears as a Shildon F.C. fan in the FIFA 10 advert.

Notes

  1. ^ a b Ronson, Jon (May 31, 2006), "Oh blimey!", The Guardian, http://arts.guardian.co.uk/features/story/0,,1786409,00.html  
  2. ^ "ScrawnandLard.co.uk". ScrawnandLard.co.uk. http://www.scrawnandlard.co.uk/chronol.htm. Retrieved 2009-05-20.  
  3. ^ "Amazon.co.uk". Amazon.co.uk. http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00004CMKK. Retrieved 2009-05-20.  
  4. ^ "ComedyCV.co.uk". ComedyCV.co.uk. http://www.comedycv.co.uk/franksidebottom/index.htm. Retrieved 2009-05-20.  
  5. ^ "TheMet.biz". TheMet.biz. 2006-09-20. http://www.themet.biz/news/index.php?p=237. Retrieved 2009-05-20.  
  6. ^ "ScrawnandLard.co.uk". ScrawnandLard.co.uk. http://www.scrawnandlard.co.uk/guests.htm#Frank. Retrieved 2009-05-20.  
  7. ^ Franksworld.co.uk
  8. ^ Logged in as click here to log out (2007-06-01). "Guardian.co.uk". Blogs.guardian.co.uk. http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/music/2007/06/are_there_any_good_covers_of_s.html. Retrieved 2009-05-20.  
  9. ^ "Amazon.co.uk". Astore.amazon.co.uk. 2004-09-20. http://astore.amazon.co.uk/ukfireservice-21/detail/B00000824Z. Retrieved 2009-05-20.  
  10. ^ "ChelseaSpace.org". ChelseaSpace.org. http://www.chelseaspace.org/archive/sidebottom-pr.html. Retrieved 2009-05-20.  
  11. ^ "Tate.org.uk". Tate.org.uk. 2007-08-03. http://www.tate.org.uk/britain/eventseducation/lateattatebritain/lateattatebritain2007august.htm. Retrieved 2009-05-20.  
  12. ^ FranksWorld.co.uk

References

External links

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Chris Sievey
File:Frank
Sievey as Frank Sidebottom at the Bull and Gate, Kentish Town, London
Born Christopher Mark Sievey
25 August 1955(1955-08-25)
Ashton-on-Mersey, Greater Manchester, England[1]
Died 21 June 2010 (aged 54)
Wythenshawe, Manchester, England
Medium Comedian, musician
Years active 1970s–2010

Christopher Mark Sievey (25 August 1955 – 21 June 2010) was an English musician and comedian known for fronting the band The Freshies in the late 1970s and early 1980s and for his comic persona Frank Sidebottom from 1984 onwards.[2]

Sievey, under the guise of Sidebottom, made regular appearances on North West television throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, even becoming a reporter for Granada Reports. More recently he had presented Frank Sidebottom's Proper Telly Show in B/W for the Manchester-based television station Channel M. Throughout his career, Sidebottom made appearances on radio stations such as Manchester's Piccadilly Radio and on BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 5, alongside Mark and Lard.

Sievey died on Monday, 21 June 2010 after a short battle with cancer. Soon afterwards it was reported that Sievey had died penniless and would have a pauper's funeral. A campaign, backed by former collaborators including Jon Ronson, was set up to raise funds for the funeral and eventually raised £21,631.55 from 1,632 separate donations.

Contents

Frank Sidebottom

The character was instantly recognisable by his large spherical head, styled like an early Max Fleischer cartoon. This was initially made from papier-mâché, but later rebuilt out of fibreglass.[3]

Frank, usually dressed in a 1950s-style sharp suit, was portrayed as an aspiring pop star from the small village of Timperley near Altrincham, Greater Manchester. His character was cheerfully optimistic, enthusiastic, and seemingly oblivious to his own failings. Although supposedly 35 years old (the age always attributed to Frank irrespective of the passage of time), he still lived at home with his mother, to whom he made frequent references. His mother was apparently unaware of her son's popularity. Frank sometimes had a sidekick in the form of "Little Frank", a hand puppet who was otherwise a perfect copy of Frank.

Comedy character Mrs Merton started out as Frank's sidekick on his radio show Radio Timperley, and the similarity of the characters is evident, exuding a sense of great ambition which belies a domestic lifestyle in the North of England. Sidebottom's former Oh Blimey Big Band members include Mark Radcliffe and Jon Ronson, and his driver was Chris Evans.[3]

History

Frank was first revealed to the world on a 12 inch promotional record which came free with the Chris Sievey-created video game The Biz for the ZX Spectrum computer in 1984. The Frank Sidebottom character was initially created to be a fan of Sievey's band The Freshies but the popularity of the character led Sievey to focus his output on Frank Sidebottom comedy records, many of which were released on Marc Riley's In Tape record label of Manchester[4] and previous to that, the 'Regal Zonophone' label.

He reached cult status in the late 1980s/early 1990s thanks to extensive touring of the country, and focusing on large towns such as St Helens. Performances were often varied from straightforward stand-up comedy and featured novelty components such as tombola, and a lot of crowd interaction. Sometimes the show also included lectures. Contrasting against the alternative comedians of the time, Frank Sidebottom's comedy was family-friendly, if a little bizarre for some.

Frank also had his own comic strip in the children's weekly comic Oink! which was launched around the mid 1980s as the children's alternative to Viz.

Frank was perhaps most popular in the North West of England, where his success was caught up in that of the Madchester scene, and for a time was a regular on regional ITV station Granada. He even featured as a reporter on its regional news programme, Granada Reports. At one point Frank had his own television show on ITV entitled Frank Sidebottom's Fantastic Shed Show.[5] He also made numerous appearances on Channel 4, including the British version of the game show Remote Control which was presented by Anthony H Wilson, where each week he would pose "Frank's Fantastic Question" to the contestants.[6] He also made several appearances on the Television South/ITV Saturday morning children's show No. 73.[7]

Along with television, the Frank Sidebottom character also made appearances on radio, on stations such as Manchester's Piccadilly Radio and on BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 5 BBC Radio 5, alongside Mark and Lard.[8][9][10]

Frank sang the Beatles song "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!" on the charity album Sgt. Pepper Knew My Father, which featured other acts like Michelle Shocked, The Christians, Sonic Youth, Billy Bragg, Hue and Cry, The Fall and Wet Wet Wet. [11] [12] He later recorded "Flying" for another Beatles tribute album, Revolution No. 9.[13]

Frank faded into obscurity in the late 1990s, rarely appearing either on TV or live appearances. A one-off performance at Manchester's Club Indigo Vs Manic Street Mania in December 2005 seemed to be the catalyst for a comeback.

In 2006, Frank reappeared in Greater Manchester on local television channel, Channel M. His new show, Frank Sidebottom's Proper Telly Show in B/W, featured celebrity guests and animation. The first showing of each show was in black and white ("so you don't have to turn the colour down"), whilst subsequent repeats were shown in full colour. He has also made five appearances on Iain Lee's programme on London's LBC as well as on numerous community radio stations such as Forever Manchester.

A recent appearance has been as a test card shown late at night on Channel M, where he and Little Frank ramble on and sing songs whilst framed in a parody of the classic Test Card F. On 6 March 2007, in an episode of the Podge and Rodge Show, he appeared in their 'Sham-Rock' talent section, performing a medley of songs by The Smiths. He received an overall score of 22 points from judges James Nesbitt and Glenda Gilson, putting him in first place for all the series' acts so far.

Frank starred in his own exhibition of drawings, animation and cardboard at London's Chelsea Space Gallery next to Tate Britain between 4 July–4 August 2007. He also appeared at "Late" at Tate Britain on 3 August 2007. [14] [15] [16]

He appeared in the Series 3 Christmas special of BBC Scotland's Videogaiden, performing "Christmas is Really Fantastic", and later appeared on the Series 3 Awards show, and the final web-exclusive episode ("Closedown").[citation needed]

In late 2009 and early 2010 he supported John Cooper Clarke on a UK tour.as per www.Franksworld.co.uk blog of 31 May 2010

He appeared as a Shildon F.C. fan in the FIFA 10 advert.[citation needed]

Follow the death of Mr Sievey in June 2010, a social networking campaign was launched to gain Frank his first UK hit. "Guess Who's Been on Match of the Day" entered the charts at No. 66.[citation needed]

TV work

Frank Sidebottom's Fantastic Shed Show was a television programme shown in 1992 featuring Chris Sievey as fictional character Frank Sidebottom.[17]

The show was produced by Yorkshire Television and was shown on most of the ITV network in the United Kingdom.[18]

The producer and director was Dave Behrens.

Guests

Guests included:

Death, funeral & memorial concert

Sievey was diagnosed with cancer in May 2010.[19] On Monday, 21 June 2010, Sievey died at Wythenshawe Hospital. He collapsed at his home in Hale, Cheshire, and was found by girlfriend, Gemma, who called an ambulance. He was 54 years old.[20][21] Sievey left a daughter Asher (aged 31) and two sons: Stirling, 31, and Harry, 18, who was still living with Sievey's ex-wife Paula. After it was reported that Sievey had died virtually penniless and was facing a "pauper's funeral" provided by state grants,[22] a grassroots movement on various social networking websites quickly rallied round and donated significant sums to help out with the costs, raising £6,500 in a matter of hours. The appeal closed on Monday 28 June with a final balance of £21,631.55 from 1632 separate donations.[23]

Sievey's funeral was held on 2 July 2010 at Altrincham Crematorium. The private service was attended by more than 200 members of his family, friends and former colleagues.[24]

On 8 July 2010, over 5,000 fans of Frank Sidebottom gathered for a party at the Castlefield Arena in Manchester to celebrate Sievey's life. The acts included Badly Drawn Boy and surviving members of Frank's Oh Blimey Big Band who played in tribute.[25][26]

Discography

Albums

  • 13:9:88 (1989)
  • 5:9:88 (1988)

Compilations

Notes

  1. ^ "Chris Sievey: The man behind the papier-mâché mask of Frank Sidebottom - Obituaries, News". The Independent. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/chris-sievey-the-man-behind-the-papiermacircch-mask-of-frank-sidebottom-2009734.html. Retrieved 2010-07-01. 
  2. ^ Rob Hughes (2010-06-22). "Chris Sievey obituary | Culture". London: The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2010/jun/22/frank-sidebottom-chris-sievey-obituary. Retrieved 2010-07-01. 
  3. ^ a b Ronson, Jon (May 31, 2006). "Oh blimey!". The Guardian (London). http://arts.guardian.co.uk/features/story/0,,1786409,00.html 
  4. ^ "ScrawnandLard.co.uk". ScrawnandLard.co.uk. http://www.scrawnandlard.co.uk/chronol.htm. Retrieved 2009-05-20. 
  5. ^ "Amazon.co.uk". Amazon.co.uk. http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00004CMKK. Retrieved 2009-05-20. 
  6. ^ "ComedyCV.co.uk". ComedyCV.co.uk. Archived from the original on May 6, 2008. http://web.archive.org/web/20080506122214/http://www.comedycv.co.uk/franksidebottom/index.htm. Retrieved 2009-05-20. 
  7. ^ "BBC - Frank Sidebottom creator Chris Sievey was "a genius"". BBC News. 2010-06-21. http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/manchester/hi/people_and_places/newsid_8752000/8752639.stm. Retrieved 2010-07-01. 
  8. ^ "TheMet.biz". TheMet.biz. 2006-09-20. http://www.themet.biz/news/index.php?p=237. Retrieved 2009-05-20. 
  9. ^ "ScrawnandLard.co.uk". ScrawnandLard.co.uk. http://www.scrawnandlard.co.uk/guests.htm#Frank. Retrieved 2009-05-20. 
  10. ^ Franksworld.co.uk[dead link]
  11. ^ Alexis Petridis (2007-06-01). "Guardian.co.uk". London: Blogs.guardian.co.uk. http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/music/2007/06/are_there_any_good_covers_of_s.html. Retrieved 2009-05-20. 
  12. ^ "Amazon.co.uk". Astore.amazon.co.uk. 2004-09-20. http://astore.amazon.co.uk/ukfireservice-21/detail/B00000824Z. Retrieved 2009-05-20. 
  13. ^ "Revolution No. 9: A Tribute to The Beatles in Aid of Cambodia". rateyourmusic. http://rateyourmusic.com/release/album/various_artists_f2/revolution_no__9__a_tribute_to_the_beatles_in_aid_of_cambodia/. Retrieved June 21, 2010. 
  14. ^ "ChelseaSpace.org". ChelseaSpace.org. http://www.chelseaspace.org/archive/sidebottom-pr.html. Retrieved 2009-05-20. 
  15. ^ "Tate.org.uk". Tate.org.uk. 2007-08-03. http://www.tate.org.uk/britain/eventseducation/lateattatebritain/lateattatebritain2007august.htm. Retrieved 2009-05-20. 
  16. ^ FranksWorld.co.uk[dead link]
  17. ^ "Mike Brown meets Frank Sidebottom". Seaside FM 105.3. http://www.seasideradio.co.uk/node/35. Retrieved 2010-06-22. 
  18. ^ http://www.student.brad.ac.uk/alradtke/fsfss.html
  19. ^ "Frank's got cancer". Chortle. 2010-05-13. http://www.chortle.co.uk/news/2010/05/13/10986/franks_got_cancer. Retrieved 2010-06-21. 
  20. ^ "BBC notice of Sievey's death". BBC News. 2010-06-21. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/manchester/10370480.stm. Retrieved 2010-06-22. 
  21. ^ "Frank Sidebottom dies after collapsing at home". Manchester Evening News. http://menmedia.co.uk/manchestereveningnews/news/s/1257872_frank_sidebottom_dies_after_collapsing_at_home. Retrieved 2010-06-21. 
  22. ^ "Frank Sidebottom comic faces pauper's funeral". Manchester Evening News. http://menmedia.co.uk/news/s/1262747_frank_sidebottom_comic_faces_paupers_funeral. Retrieved 2010-06-23. 
  23. ^ "Frank Sidebottom's creator saved from pauper's funeral". BBC News. 2010-06-23. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/manchester/10392981.stm. Retrieved 2010-06-23. 
  24. ^ "Frank Sidebottom's creator Chris Sievey's funeral held". BBC News. 2010-07-02. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/manchester/10486010.stm. Retrieved 2010-07-20. 
  25. ^ "Frank Sidebottom farewell party packs Manchester arena". BBC News. 2010-07-09. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/manchester/10565028.stm. Retrieved 2010-07-20. 
  26. ^ "BBC - In pics: Frank's Fantastic Farewell". BBC News. 2010-07-09. http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/manchester/hi/people_and_places/newsid_8803000/8803884.stm. Retrieved 2010-07-20. 

References

External links


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