Coming out from another period of semi-retirement, at the request of Jimmy Corrigan, Gracie agreed to headline a two week stint at the famous ‘Batley Variety Club’, Yorkshire. Gracie, now aged 70 agreed to the shows, but requested that their start time be earlier than usual, so people could visit from Rochdale and get home early enough. Gracie also requested a week’s break between shows, which gave her a chance to alter her repertoire.
When Gracie first got to Batley to rehearse, the club’s guard-dog ran onto the stage, rolled over and fell asleep in front of Gracie. This made a great photo opportunity for the press photographer there to photograph Gracie.
She opened at Batley on December 1st 1968, playing one week before taking a week’s break. When she returned on December 22nd she had shifted the song order around, and added a Christmas selection.
Famed for its ‘fish and chips in a basket’, served whilst the audiences enjoyed the cabaret, Gracie quipped ‘I was born over a fish and chip shop, I never thought I’d be singing in one!‘, and although Roy Hudd claims that the audiences were not receiving her well until she added Mary Hopkin’s ‘Those Were The Days’ to her routine, Gracie performed to packed houses every night.
BBC Radio recorded a performance from the first week, which was broadcast on 5th January 1969, and Philips made a recording of a performance from the second week, with a view to a commercial issue, which Gracie later rejected. Gracie’s original Philips demonstration disc is now part of a private Gracie collection. The only song not broadcast by the BBC was Gracie’s encore of ‘There’ll Always Be An England.’ Some of the recording made by the BBC was later issued on the LP ‘The Best of the BBC Broadcasts.’
Running order – Week One (Broadcast by the BBC)
Sing As We Go * Little Old Lady * The Biggest Aspidistra * Wish Me Luck * Sally * We’ve Got To Keep Up With The Joneses * Strangers in the Night * Somewhere My Love * As Long As He Needs Me * The Birthday Song * Those Were The Days * How Are Things In Glocca Mora? * Fonso, My Hot Spanish (K)night * What A Wonderful World * My Blue Heaven * When I Grow Too Old To Dream * Turn ‘Erbert’s Face To The Wall * Charmaine * The Rochdale Hounds * September Song * My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean * Around the World * Walter, Walter * Don’t Be Angry With Me Sergeant * Put Your Shoes On Lucy * Now Is The Hour * Volare
Running order – Week Two (Recorded by Philips)
Sally * The Biggest Aspidistra In The World * We’ve Got To Keep Up With the Joneses * Strangers in the Night * Somewhere My Love * As Long As He Needs Me * What’s The Good of a Birthday? * Those Were The Days * How Are Things in Glocca Morra? * Fonzo (My Hot Spanish (K)night) * A Merry, Merry Christmas * White Christmas * Little Donkey * My Blue Heaven * When I Grow To Old To Dream * Turn ‘Erbert’s Face To The Wall * Charmaine * The Rochdale Hounds * September Song * My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean * Around the World * Walter, Walter * Don’t Be Angry With Me Sergeant * Put Your Shoes on Lucy * Volare