Vernon Corea met British comedy star Norman Wisdom in Andreas on the Isle of Man

Norman Wisdom in Peel, Isle of Man on 24 July 2005. He was guest of honour at a car rally to commemorate Manx-built Peel range of car models. [Photo: Charles Roberts/Online Transport Archive] Charles Roberts/Online Transport Archive photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Norman Wisdom in Peel, Isle of Man on 24 July 2005. He was guest of honour at a car rally to commemorate Manx-built Peel range of car models. [Photo: Charles Roberts/Online Transport Archive] Charles Roberts/Online Transport Archive photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Sir Norman Wisdom was born on the 4th of February in 1915 – he went on to become one of the greats of British comedy in theatre and the cinema and he was hero worshipped in Albania. Hundreds of people queued to see his films when they arrived in Ceylon, now Sri Lanka in the 1960s. Even Vernon took his family to see so many Norman Wisdom films when they were screened in cinemas in Colombo. Vernon who had such a sense of humour himself enjoyed the performances of the comic actor.

It is interesting that Norman Wisdom’s father, Fredrick who was a chauffeur actually spent some time in Ceylon during the colonial era. But he didn’t stay long and returned to Britain. Apparently (according to the Independent newspaper in London) Norman and his brother were left to their on devices while their father worked in Ceylon and Norman had to resort to money making schemes in order to survive.

York Street Colombo in 1920. Norman Wisdom's father Fredrick may well have had a job as a chauffeur in Colombo Ceylon in the 1920s.

York Street Colombo in 1920. Norman Wisdom’s father Fredrick may well have had a job as a chauffeur in Colombo Ceylon in the 1920s.

He was one of Britain’s biggest stars and starred in so many films –

A Date with a Dream (1948)
Wit and Wisdom (1948–50, TV)
Trouble in Store (1953)
One Good Turn (1954)
As Long as They’re Happy (1955) (cameo)
Man of the Moment (1955)
Up in the World (1956)
Just My Luck (1957)
The Square Peg (1958)
Follow a Star (1959)
There Was a Crooked Man (1960)
The Bulldog Breed (1960)
The Girl on the Boat (1961)
On the Beat (1962)
A Stitch in Time (1963)
The Early Bird (1965)
The Sandwich Man (1966)
Press for Time (1966)
Androcles and the Lion (1967, TV)
The Night They Raided Minsky’s (1968)
What’s Good for the Goose (1969)
Norman (1970, TV)
Music Hall (1970, TV)
Nobody Is Norman Wisdom (1973, TV)
A Little Bit of Wisdom (1974, TV)
BBC Playhouse: “Going Gently” (1981, TV)
BBC Bergerac: “Almost Like a Holiday” (1983, TV)
The 1950s: Music, Memories & Milestones (1988, TV)
Double X: The Name of the Game (Double X, Run Rabbit Run) (1992)
Last of the Summer Wine (1995–2004)
Where on Earth Is … Katy Manning (1998, TV)
Casualty episode “She Loved the Rain” (1998, TV)
Junfans Attic (2001)
Dalziel and Pascoe episode “Mens Sana” (2002, TV)
The Last Detective episode “Lofty” (2003, TV)
Coronation Street (2004, TV)
Five Children and It (2004) Played Nesbitt.
Last of the Summer Wine episode “Variations on a Theme of the Widow Winstanley” (2004, TV)
Expresso (2007) [www.expressofilm.com]
Wonderland: The Secret Life Of Norman Wisdom Aged 92 and 3/4 (2008, TV) (his last appearance)

Vernon Corea took his family to see Norman Wisdom in ‘On The Beat’

‘A Stitch in Time’

Vernon Corea in his house 'Ballalough' in Andreas on the Isle of Man in the 1980s.

Vernon Corea in his house ‘Ballalough’ in Andreas on the Isle of Man in the 1980s.

Norman Wisdom was a hero of comedy and Vernon Corea actually met him in Andreas, on the Isle of Man. Norman had fallen in love with the island – he lived for 27 years in a house in Andreas named Ballalough (Manx language for “place of the lake”, though really a humorous corruption of the English “belly laugh”. In the 1980s Vernon’s daughter was living in Andreas on the Isle of Man and at the time Vernon purchased a house also called ‘Ballalough.’ He met Norman Wisdom on several occasions in Andreas and has had long chats with him about his films screened in Sri Lanka in the 1960s. Vernon also introduced his grand children Rebecca and Jeremy to Norman Wisdom on one of these occasions. At the time Vernon was the BBC’s Ethnic Minorities Advisor and had his own radio show ‘London Sounds Eastern,’ on BBC Radio London 206. Norman Wisdom introduces the magical Isle of Man in this tourism film:

Sir Norman died on 4 October 2010 at Abbotswood nursing home on the Isle of Man at the age of 95. He was so popular in Sri Lanka throughout the 1960s. He has even been mentioned on Radio Ceylon – Norman Wisdom had a great voice too and his songs have been aired on the radio station.

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