They grew up together in Edgarstown – and last saw each other back in the early 1960s. But last week they met purely by chance in St Helier in the idyllic Channel Island of Jersey.
Charlie Douglas (stage name Charlie Daze as a leading comedian) bumped into ex-neighbour Kenny Matchett in the island capital of St Helier when he, typically, cracked a joke with Kenny’s wife whom he regarded as a passing stranger!
Said Eleanor, “Kenny and I were on holiday and I was doing a spot of window shopping when this Northern Ireland accent told me not to spend too much. I recognised Charlie right away – having been brought up in Portadown and having seen him so often on television.
“I called Kenny over and soon we were deep in conversation about the good old days in Edgarstown.”
The district was totally integrated then, the Douglases being a large family of eight, and the district included famed hairdresser Frank McCoy, heralded boxer, who worked for Charlie Magowan.
And they talked about people like the Burkes, Lyskes, Bests, Crowes, Joe Saunderson and many more, not forgetting Ford’s Café that was a fulcrum of the area.
Said Kenny, “We didn’t have a camera to record the happy scene. But Charlie called at our hotel – the Pomme D’Or – the following day and we continued the craic and recorded a picture.”
Over 50 years ago, after Charlie departed to the bright lights of England and the comedy circuit, Kenny was in the Army for a time and ended his working career with the Post Office.
Charlie, meanwhile, went on the clubs and pubs circuit, and in 1978 won TV’s ‘Opportunity Knocks’ (with Hughie Green) three times which set him on the road to stardom. His act included a semi-classic piano spot – “I was self-taught in Jimmy Doyle’s house in Henry Street.”
It opened the door to appearing in Granada’s ‘The Comedians’ with the likes of Frank Carson, Bernard Manning, Roy Walker and Stan Boardman. He met and married Patrice, from Jersey, and when he retired from the circuit, they settled in her native island. They have three sons, and Charlie is to become a granddad for the first time. Sadly, Patrice died a few years ago.
“I still do the odd spot of public speaking in places like Southampton,” said Charlie.
He was on Portadown Football Club’s books for a spell, but preferred showbiz. He now lives near the idyllic resort of Gorey, which has a famous castle.