Cannon And Ball’s Playhouse

Cannon And Ball’s Playhouse, 1991

Proof that you can’t keep a good idea down.  The playhouse idea was used as far back as 1961 by the BBC as a vehicle for Galton and Simpson.  Here we are 30 years later and the idea is still in use, this time for Cannon and Ball.

The idea for  Cannon And Ball’s Playhouse was the tried and tested format.  Make six standalone sitcom pilots with a view to creating a new series from one or more.

A full series of six episodes was commissioned made but ITV favoured an episode entitled Plaza Patrol to go on to become a full series.  In fact Plaza Patrol was in full swing when ITV broadcast the remaining recorded episodes of Cannon and Ball’s Playhouse.  The episode from Playhouse went on to become the second episode of the Plaza Patrol series.

Consequently only three episodes of Cannon and Ball’s Playhouse were made with only two Free Every Friday and Growing Concern ever broadcast as part of the series.


Tommy Cannon and Bobby Ball star in two standalone sitcoms.

Free Every Friday

Bobby played Norman Tubby, the reporter for the ‘Althorp Claxton and Advertiser’, a local free paper. Tommy played Ken Osborne, the manager, who has been bought the newspaper by his rich wife Annette.

Annette is not impressed by how well the paper is doing and wants Norman (who was hired by Ken because they knew each other at school) sacked. The ‘Claxton’ also has a bigger, better, rival, the ‘Post’.

Growing Concern

Bobby is Barnes, a slightly incapable maintenance man with a catchphrase of “I ‘ave’nt got the right tools with me”. Tommy plays Tommy Davenport, the personnel manager.

At the start of the show Barnes is sacked by Davenport, who is later sacked himself.

Facing hard times Barnes is forced to go knocking on doors to ask if people have jobs they need doing.

Davenport initially doesn’t tell his wife he’s lost his job, then says he resigned.  He takes a job in Jimmy’s Burger Bar.  Eventually the two meet up again when Barnes knocks on Davenports door. Over a cup of tea Tommy’s wife suggests that between them they have the skills to set up in business together.  They follow her advice and win a contract from the council.


Both episodes in full








Tommy Cannon and Bobby Ball


Channel: ITV
Written By:
Paul Minett and Brian Leveson (Growing Concern)
Richard Lewis and Louis Robinson (Free Every Friday)
Produced By: Yorkshire Television for ITV
Original Transmission Dates:
27th August 1991 (Growing Concern)
10th September 1991 (Free Every Friday)