Newcastle comic Mickey Hutton - talks about his early days as a musician with Jimmy Nail before he made his name with the Comedy Store

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Newcastle comic Mickey Hutton - talks about his early days as a musician with Jimmy Nail before he made his name with the Comedy Store

Newcastle comic Mickey Hutton - talks about his early days as a musician with Jimmy Nail before he made his name with the Comedy Store

Posted: 17 Oct 2009


Taking the Mickey - Ross Noble is his nephew (true fact!)


By Michael Hamilton

Musician Mickey Hutton left Newcastle 25 years ago for the bright lights of London and his dream to hit the big time with his rock band. But he ended up making his name in comedy and as a TV actor.

‘My band was called Strength signed to Arista Records but it flopped harder than a big flat bloke at the baths,’ he laughs.

‘I discovered the Comedy Store and started going along to watch the acts and thought I could do that. In those days you could get spots at 3am usually to a half empty club of drunks but it was a start.’

These days he lives with his girlfriend Lesley, an air stewardess from North Shields, in Chiswick, West London.

But his heart is still firmly on Tyneside and he is looking forward to coming home and catching up with mum and dad Bill and Ellen who still live in Walker where he grew up.

He says: ‘The Gala is a lovely theatre and I’m looking forward to coming home. The hecklers in the North East are the funniest in the country. 

‘With a lot of audiences you can pull the wool over their eyes with your cheeky Geordie charm but in the North East they’ve all got that cheeky charm so that doesn’t work!

He started as a youngster at the coalface of performing – the notorious clubs circuit.

‘I started as a musician playing in the workingmen’s clubs in the North East and if you can survive that you can cope with anything. I once got paid off on Christmas Day – that was embarrassing!

‘By 1980 I was in a band called King Crabs with Jimmy Nail. It was just after the punk era but we used to play R&B so it was destined to fail. We were also called the Prize Guys for the workingmen’s club circuit. We needed two names because we used to get attacked a lot!’

Jimmy recalls in his candid autobiography ‘A Northern Soul’ how he would try to outrage audiences by performing on stage in a dress and pit boots. The gigs often degenerated into all-out brawls.

‘It was the early Eighties when Jimmy got his big TV break in Auf Wiedersehen Pet so I went off to London to do session guitar work and try and make it in music but found comedy instead.

‘My overriding memory of those early days doing stand up was of being permanently terrified. I used to get nervous on a Monday and the shows weren’t until the weekend!

‘My hands would start sweating. I remember sitting waiting to go on stage and I wanted to run out of the door and never ever do it again. It was terrifying.

‘My most heart-stopping moment was when I was just about to step on stage and one of the crew told me Robin Williams was three rows back. I was petrified – he is my all-time comedy hero and here he was watching me.’

But the comedy led to his big TV break presenting a live 90-minute show called Saturday Night on Sky. His job was to interview notoriously prickly celebrities like Grace Jones.

‘She was actually a sweetheart and no problem at all because we had music in common and got on fine – I played harmonica for her in the dressing room.

‘But I remember interviewing the American actress Charlene Tilton who played the ‘poison dwarf’ in Dallas and she asked me out on a date. I didn’t actually take her up on the offer because I was married at the time!’

TV roles followed including the villain Spud Tate in the second series of the BBC drama Spender – again reunited with old pal Jimmy Nail, who wrote and starred in the show.

Although he is proud of the new-look Newcastle and all the recent developments he still gets nostalgic for the old days.

‘I love all the fabulous spectacular architecture in Newcastle but I remember growing up there in the Seventies and I’m especially fond of the old Quayside. 

‘There was a bloke who used to run a portable pet shop on the Quayside market and his patter was brilliant. 

‘He used to say: “Here’s your rats, here’s your mice. Feed the pets, starve the kids.”

‘My favourite venue as a kid was the old Mayfair in Newcastle. Unfortunately it’s not there any more but I saw great bands like Free there. Paul Kossoff is my favourite guitarist of all time and Paul Rodgers is the best rock vocalist of his generation.

‘I’ve still got all my tickets stubs from Newcastle City Hall where I saw bands like Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath.’

Mickey is clearly still fiercely proud of his Tyneside roots.

‘Geordies are a breed unto themselves. There’s nobody like us in the country. We’ve probably got more in common with the Irish, Scots or Welsh. We’re this weird group of people living in this weird place.’

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