Play brings back Norfolk singing legend

Just Regional
Oct 20, 2015 3 mins read

A Norfolk-based theatre company present a new production about Allan Smethurst, The Singing Postman.

Although born in Bury Lancashire, and later living in Lincolnshire and Grimsby, Smethurst will be forever associated with his adopted homes of Sheringham and Stiffkey, first coming to the county at the age of two.

His life and songs will be celebrated in a play called Singing The Postman by theatre company Crude Apache that will tour the county before a three-day run at Norwich’s Guildhall.

Singing The Postman is a poignant musical comedy drama. Rather than a straightforward biography it tells the tale of three Singing Postmen tribute acts, Billy, Terence and Geoff. By chance they meet in a pub one rainy night on their way to a Singing Postman Birthday Memorial Show in Framlington. Stranded by the bad weather and floods they are forced into each other’s company and start to discuss their fascination with, and different takes on, this most singular of singer/songwriters.

Allan Smethurst was born in 1927, spent most of his formative years in Norfolk and loved the county. He was living in Yorkshire, working as a postman and homesick for the county when he began to write songs in a Norfolk dialect.

These were comic, yet closely observed, songs about rural life. The subject matter ranged from the village cricket match and the ladies darts team to mass-produced food (Oi Can’t Git A Noice Loaf).
The songs came to the attention of various BBC Radio programmes including Women’s Hour, Today and crucially a Norfolk-based BBC presenter called Ralph Tuck who was keen to promote Smethurst and first dubbed him The Singing Postman.

Unable to secure record company interest, Tuck decided to use his own money to record and press a 7” extended play vinyl record. This sold more than 10,000 copies in four months.

At the time local newspapers announced that the Singing Postman was outselling the Beatles and the Rolling Stones in Norfolk’s record shops. In 1965 he shot to national fame with Hev Yew Gotta Loight Boy? sung in his distinctive Norfolk dialect with guitar accompaniment.

His new success shot him into the spotlight, leading to many television appearances, including Top of the Pops. He was signed to Parlophone Records, home to The Beatles, and seemed set for a lucrative career.

He gave up his post round to concentrate on a musical career but found it hard to cope with the transition from the recording studio to live performances.

Appearing at the Windmill Theatre in Great Yarmouth for the summer season, he turned increasingly to the bottle for Dutch courage and had to bow out of the show when he ended up in hospital, reportedly with heart problems.

Saturday 24th October Coronation Hall, Mundesley (tickets via 01603 630530)

Wednesday 28th October The Atrium, North Walsham (part of the COAST festival) (01692 400080)

Thursday 29th October Fisher Theatre, Bungay (01986 897130)

Wednesday 4 November Tithe Barn, Horstead (tickets via 01603 737495)

Thursday 5th – Saturday 7th November The Guildhall, Norwich

All performances start at 8pm except Saturday, November 7, which starts at 9pm.

the Singing Postman

the Singing Postman

Singing The Postman1

More of what's happening in Sheringham