It took more than 50 years for Robert Hutchinson to feel he has firmly cut his teeth in the acting world.
But now, the 70-year-old from Chorley, who goes by the name of Bob Young, is unstoppable, as he has starred in films with former Brookside actor John McArdle and appeared on stage with ‘Allo ‘Allo star Arthur Bostrom.
He is currently getting ready for his one-man tour of William Shakespeare’s King Lear, written by Frank Bramwell, through Inamoment theatre company.
Bob first found his love of amateur dramatics when he was cast as the scarecrow in Southlands High School’s Wizard of Oz,
He recalls: “I really enjoyed being on stage. Karen Kay, the famous jazz singer and impressionist, was the star of the show, as Dorothy. She was known as her real name Judith Pringle back them. Karen knew how to turn it into a career. I just drifted into it through the amateur side.”
Bob left school and joined the armed forces as a member of the Royal Signals.
But he never lost his love of the theatrics and he found time to join an amateur dramatics society.
He says: “After school, I wondered what to do. I had to make a decision at some point. I did a spell at Leyland Motors and then there was a recruitment call for the army and I thought it was a good idea.
“I was in the army for nine years, with the Royal Signals and I did a tour of Germany with the RAF.
“Whilst there, I stayed at RAF Laarbruch, which had a very active amateur operatic society, so I got involved in that. The members put on a few shows which I enjoyed.
“Other than that, it was all work and occasionally having to be a soldier.”
After nine years Bob left and began to pursue his real dream – to be an entertainer.
He was hired to sing at a variety of venues, delighting audiences with a selection of songs from the 1920s, through to the present day. He covers anything from Tom Jones and Elvis Presley to Bruno Mars and The Killers.
The father-of-three adds: “I worked as a semi professional entertainer.
“I went straight into gigging in clubs, doing what I loved: singing and performing. I did other jobs to keep a roof over our heads.
“But it was not until six years ago that I had the opportunity to break into the world of professional acting. I’d like to think it is due to my talent.
“I grabbed it with both hands and was pleasantly surprised.
“My main hurdle was being accepted as a professional actor at my age.
“I was very fortunate in getting sufficient roles to be able to establish myself. I have been lucky as the roles came in.
“I starred in a couple of feature films. My most memorable was as John Shackle in The Rochdale Pioneers, with John McArdle and John Henshaw. It was shown on Film 4.
“I can’t believe how everything has fallen into place with it all.
“I found myself on stage at the Lowry Studio doing A Parson’s Tale and also Onions Cry Too with one of my heroes - Arthur Bostrom, from ‘Allo ‘Allo.
“I was thinking: ‘is this real?’ ‘Am I doing this?’ It has been wonderful.
“I have done numerous short films with John McArdle.
“I have been in two short films over the last two years which I have not seen yet. One is a low budget feature film, which I am not sure will see the light of day and one was shot in the Yorkshire Dales which will go in the festival circuit in the next few months. It has not got a title yet.”
Although the grandfather-of-10 now lives in Urmston with his wife of two years Brenda Walker, he sees Chorley as his home.
He came back to film a trailer for King Lear at White Coppice.
He comments: “I wanted to do a short introductory trailer and I was looking for locations.
“I could not think of anything better than White Coppice, where I spent a lot of time when I was young. I filmed a short section of the play in an environment you would imagine King Lear to be in.
“In Shakespeare’s version, King Lear dies. But in this version, he is trying to resolve his issues and reliving his past.
“The trailer is online on my Facebook page: King Lear – Alone and my website: www.kinglearalone.uk. Frank Bramwell was looking for someone of my age to play King Lear so I auditioned and got offered the part.
“I could not resist it.
“The one-man performance will be a challenge. It is not for the faint-hearted, as I am on stage for an hour on my own.
“I will have to keep it moving.”
This will not be Bob’s only intense drama work, as he has done a similar one-man play of The Parson’s Tale, with only his wife Brenda in a small supporting role.
He adds: “I had to keep the audience entertained on my own which was a challenge. But I did enjoy it, as I got to grips with it.
“Brenda played Mrs Fletcher, but she didn’t have much to do.
“I am very lucky to have Brenda, as she supports me and allows me to pursue all these jobs.”
Bob’s one-man Shakespearean play is a far cry from panto, which he has also enjoyed.
He adds: “I never thought I would do panto. It was very close to being in Wizard of Oz at school and is daft entertainment, but being able to get hold of a character and make it into something that contributes to a successful production is magic.
“Last year I played King Gallop in Jack and the Beanstalk at Blackpool’s North Pier Theatre, alongside played alongside former Coronation Street actor Bruce Jones and Danny Rogers, the son of Ted Rogers. I was very luck to have the opportunity to do that.”
Bob also keeps busy in the months leading up to Christmas as he plays Santa at Hard Rock Cafe, in Manchester, and he is a regular singer at the Britannia Hotel, in the city, where he is often joined by his wife.
When he is not performing, Bob can be found on the golf course, as he is a member Lancashire Entertainer’s Golf Society.
He adds: “I don’t get to play as often as I’d like, hence my ever increasing handicap. I usually play two or three times a month.
“I have played golf a couple of times with Howard Broadbent who co-wrote the song The Blackpool Belle and, coincidentally, one of my current golfing buddies is Norman Prince who was the lead singer with the Houghton Weavers, the band who made the song a hit.
“I don’t know if this is a good thing or not, but I don’t really get much time for any other hobbies. My main interests away from acting, singing and the world of theatre and music in general is philosophy. Sorry if that sounds boring.”
Lancashire Entertainer’s Golf Society is holding a charity golf day at Hart Common Golf Club, in Westhoughton, on Monday July 10 to raise funds for the Rosemere Trust, the Stroke Association and the Circular Foundation. Team entry fee is £100, which includes the tournament and a two-course meal,
To enter call organiser Sam Homer on 07798927694.
Bob will be performing King Lear at Oldham Library on May 25 at 7pm and May 26 at 2pm and 7pm.
For more information visit www.bob-young.co.uk or www.kinglearalone.uk.