'He brought us laughter' - remembering Norfolk’s king of comedy Peachy Mead

A laugh a minute.......Peachy Mead with one of his co-stars, Sunny the tiger.

A laugh a minute.......Peachy Mead with one of his co-stars, Sunny the tiger. - Credit: Archant Library

Derek James pays tribute to the one and only Peachy Mead, Norfolk’s king of comedy, who died at the weekend.

The words of his son, Tim Mead, describe him so well….”I smile and laugh whenever I think about my father.”

And, I suspect, so do many of you.

Norwich comedian Peachy Mead pictured outside the Avenue Road home he was born in 1938

Norwich comedian Peachy Mead pictured outside the Avenue Road home he was born in 1938. - Credit: Archant Library/James Bass

His name was Philip Mead – known to one and all as Peachy - and I am sad to report that he died last Saturday, two days after his 83rd birthday.

He was, without doubt, one of the funniest and most loveable gentlemen to come out of Norwich and also one who spent a lot of time helping other entertainers as secretary of Equity for decades.


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Those who worked with him, those who laughed with him…will always remember the man who appeared on stage and screen for so many years.

A laugh a minute.......Peachy Mead.

A laugh a minute.......Peachy Mead. - Credit: Archant Library

Peachy inspired the next generation of entertainers and one of them was our own Olly Day who first met him when he was just 14.

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Along with Lenny Read and David Valentine, Peachy encouraged him to enter talent competitions and the two of them became lifelong friends.

“Such happy days,” said Olly. “He was a larger-than-life character, in every way.

Peachy Mead and Olly Day at Peachy's 80th birthday celebrations. 

Peachy Mead and Olly Day at Peachy's 80th birthday celebrations. - Credit: Olly Day.

“He really personified those 1970s comedians. I can see him now, in a fully smoky room with the spotlight on him, standing on the stage in his pale blue safari suit, telling his gags and the whole audience would be laughing and clapping, “ said Olly.

And former Radio Norfolk boss David Clayton added: “I knew him from my days as an entertainment agent with Norwich Artistes in the early 70s.

Peachy Mead shows just how tatty his topper has become.

Peachy Mead shows just how tatty his topper has become. He is a flamboyant, larger-than-life comedian and entertainer who has spent his entire life, mostly in Norfolk and Suffolk, making us laugh. Date: 1974 - Credit: Archant Library

“The thing that struck me then and was still there when I chatted to him a few months back for an article I was writing, was his boundless enthusiasm for show business and the local entertainment scene,” said David.

“He was still full of ideas. He was the father figure for all local entertainers as much for his work with Equity as his longevity. I won’t be the first to say this, but it really is the end of an era.

I always found it a privilege to write about Peachy. Do you remember the time in 2004 when he had a row with John Lewis over whether or not Santa (Peachy) should have a throne and a grotto.

Peachy Mead(top) and Mike Alden make their Father Christmas protest

Peachy Mead (top) and Mike Alden make their Father Christmas protest. - Credit: Archant Library

The national headlines screamed “Sacked Santa” and Peachy recalled: “I had never had so much publicity. Not many people can say they were sacked as Father Christmas”.
Philip Mead was born in Norwich on August 5 1938 at the family home in Avenue  Road.

His mum Beatrice known as “Mother Mead” took in actors from the old Hippodrome Theatre. From time to time he was plonked in the audience to be a “volunteer” to go up on stage (quickly) – and would pocket 10 bob. A handy sum.

Peachy Mead, dressed as Santa.

A few years on from being sacked as Father Christmas Peachy Mead has donned the red suit and beard once more to be a Santa at Highways Garden and Nursery Centre. - Credit: Archant Library/Antony Kelly

Young Philip was one of the cycle speedway “skid kids” joining the tough Galley Pirates and it was the start of a love affair with the sport.

It was a teacher at his school who called him Meachy – and that turned into Peachy.

He did some entertaining in Germany during his National Service and in 1960 he and his mate Tony Dennis answered an advertisement in the Eastern Evening News for acts to join a touring variety show in Norfolk.

 Beauty contest time at Butlins in Clacton around 1961 with Peachy Mead.

Beauty contest time at Butlins in Clacton around 1961 with Peachy Mead. - Credit: Archant Library

The rest, as they say, is history.

For the next few decades Peachy worked non-stop at holiday camps across Norfolk and Suffolk and further afield. You name it, Peachy did it. The children loved his “Uncle Peachy Show” at the new Pontins in Hemsby.

He appeared in many TV shows, such as Hi-De-Hi and as an extra in Anglia’s Tales of the Unexpected, and his manager at one time was the brilliant bandleader Chic Applin.

Dear Peachy leaves his son Tim and former wife Joan….and so many fans and friends.

Hi De Hi.....Peachy Mead, part of the team.

Hi De Hi.....Peachy Mead, part of the team. - Credit: Archant Library

Lord MAyor Jeremy Hooke and Peachy Mead stand on the balcony of City Hall.

25th anniversary of the East Anglian Branch of equity. Celebrating with a Civic Reception at Norwich City Hall, welcomed by The Lord Mayor Jeremy Hooke whos pictured with Peachy Mead (East Anglian Branch Secretary). - Credit: Archant Library/Antony Kelly

Peachy Mead with Bluey Bear.

Peachy Mead with Bluey Bear. - Credit: Archant Library


 

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