Tributes paid to entertainer who saved Gorleston Pavilion from closure

Entertainer Carl Adams. Picture: EDP Library

Entertainer Carl Adams. Picture: EDP Library - Credit: Archant

Carl Adams, the entertainer who saved Gorleston Pavilion from closure and helped to make theatre the successful venue it is today, has died.

Entertainer Carl Adams. Picture: EDP Library

Entertainer Carl Adams. Picture: EDP Library - Credit: Archant

He was 74 and had been suffering from cancer.

He was also an influential casting agent who provided large numbers of extras for Anglia Television dramas and other shows, including the popular holiday camp comedy Hi-de-Hi.

Mr Adams, who lived at Burgh Castle, came from Beccles and was a popular singer, musician and comedian. BBC Radio Norfolk's managing editor David Clayton, a former showbusiness agent and also in the 1970s a DJ at Gorleston's Ocean Room run by Gordon Edwards, said he remembered Carl best as a 'turn' at the Free and Easy night which ran on Tuesday evenings in the summer.

He said coach parties would pile in from the local hotels where Carl's style of comedy would have them rolling in the aisles, adding he was also a very good singer.

Entertainer Carl Adams. Picture: EDP Library

Entertainer Carl Adams. Picture: EDP Library - Credit: Archant

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'Carl was a very professional entertainer and I enjoyed some summers at the Ocean Room where he appeared regularly back in the 1970s,' he said.

'He would revel in a Norfolk gag told slowly. I laughed every time even though I knew what was coming. He was a major player around the east coast entertainment community.'

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Alongside his act he established an extras agency at a time when Anglia TV was known for its network dramas including Tales of the Unexpected and the PD James crime thrillers.

BBC series, among them Hi-de-Hi filmed at Warners holiday camp at Dovercourt, also needed a large number for its crowd scenes.

Mr Clayton added: 'While it was a lot of work he took it on and became pre-eminent in providing the local showbiz community with lots of extra work standing in the background on many a TV production.'

But it was Gorleston Pavilion, where Adams had made his very first professional appearance as a young performer, which became his home for 10 years from 1984.

Great Yarmouth Borough Council which owns the Edwardian building had decided it was no longer appropriate to pump money into subsidising summer seasons at its two venues, the Wellington Pier and the Pavilion.

Even the brief involvement of Dick Condon, who had made such a success of the Norwich Theatre Royal and Cromer Pier, failed to turn around the fortunes and Gorleston Pavilion was in danger of ceasing to operate after 80 years.

A newly-formed Gorleston Community Association attempted to take over running a summer show in 1984 with Carl Adams topping the bill but after a couple of weeks it was obviously losing money and couldn't continue.

Rather than close, Carl took over the management himself, continuing the season and then negotiating with the council to lease the building on a permanent basis. He opened it throughout the year and ran it for a decade before ill health forced early retirement.

In 1994 Kevin Lynch and Stuart Durrant stepped in and built on that original format making the Pavilion a highly successful local venue with a wide variety of entertainment including a six month summer season and annual Christmas pantomime.

Kevin Lynch said he was saddened to learn of the death of Carl Adams and acknowledged he achieved so much in the pattern he set.

Last Sunday, Cliff Park Community Church held its annual carol service at the theatre when prayers were said for Carl Adams and his family.

'I covered the story as a reporter back in 1984,' said former Great Yarmouth Mercury journalist Tony Mallion who hosted the carol service and is also a trustee of the Pavilion's restoration appeal.

Mr Mallion added: 'I had nothing but admiration for the way Carl Adams not only rescued that season but then took over running the Pavilion and showed how it could succeed in private hands for 10 years – something Kevin and Stuart have gone on to do so well for the past 20 years.

'The council had tried everything and the future was bleak for the theatre until Carl proved there was another way. Three decades later it is more successful than ever before. We owe a lot to what he achieved.

'When I was working at BBC Radio Norfolk with David Clayton we brought our comedy quiz Should the Team Think to the Pavilion for the first time and Carl couldn't have been more helpful or supportive. He was indeed a great entertainer.'

The funeral service is on December 29.

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