60 girls have their eye on this man
He claps his hands and is surrounded by some of the best-dressed women ever to grace a seaside promenade.
He is Jeffrey Piddock — senior floor manager of ABC Outside Broadcasts. But he is better known in Northern seaside resorts as ringmaster, major domo and general factotum of Holiday Town Parade.
The smooth running of this touring television show owes much to Piddock’s knack of being in the right place at the right time.
He is on duty from the moment the programme team arrives in the resort until all the equipment is packed and on its way to the next port of call.
Piddock is an ex-song-and-dance man. His show business career started after he graduated from dancing school. He joined a ballerina for a double act in a London amusement arcade.
Later, he worked with comics like Arthur Askey, Jimmy Wheeler and Vic Oliver. He understudied George Form by in Zip Goes a Million, and played the star role for two weeks when Formby fell ill.
He moved into ITV, and has been behind the scenes of Holiday Town Parade since the first programme.
Viewers never see Piddock. But he is known to the thousands of holidaymakers who go to preliminary heats for contests at different resorts every Friday afternoon.
Usually at local swimming pools, more than 100 bathing beauties, fashion girls and muscle-men parade before judges who choose those to appear in the programme next day.
Piddock says: “It’s thought generally that the same girls go round all the bathing beauty shows. But we often have newcomers and then I have to teach them how to parade to best advantage.”
As well as helping to organise the parades, Piddock often acts as compere.
And while the compere on Saturdays, McDonald Hobley, chants his “Don’t be late. Make a date, for Holiday Town Parade.” Piddock is thinking of the problems next week’s show will bring.