Tees

Larry Grayson: Door that inspired catchphrase uncovered

Joyce Dowding and Neil Bates with the original Larry Grayson door at The Regent in Redcar Image copyright Stuart Boulton
Image caption Joyce Dowding and Neil Bates have recalled Mr Grayson's time performing in Redcar

A door said to have inspired Larry Grayson to create one of TV's best-known catchphrases has been uncovered during a cinema revamp.

The Generation Game host was famed for exclaiming: "Shut that door!"

He first used the saying while working the summer season at a seafront theatre in Redcar, Teesside.

The door, which had been bricked up, was found during the regeneration of the town's Regent Cinema. It will now be preserved for posterity.

Grayson, one of the biggest names in showbusiness in the 1970s and 1980s, had worked at the venue when it was known as the New Pavilion - years before finding fame on television.

Performing under the stage name Billy Breen, his act was reportedly interrupted when a door on to the beach repeatedly flew open in the wind, prompting him to come out with the line.

The venue was later turned into the cinema, but it has been closed for almost a year after structural faults were found.

Image copyright Joyce Dowding
Image caption Larry Grayson and Joyce Dowding were photographed with a painting of the Redcar venue

Regent manager Neil Bates said: "He just shouted 'Shut that door!' and got a laugh and kept using it. It might come as a surprise to people, but it originated from his manageress.

"When she wanted to talk to clients about money or personal issues she would invite them into her office and say in a rather stern voice 'Shut that door'.

"It's believed Larry was probably parroting her deliberately when the door would blow open during performances."

Mr Bates said he was "absolutely positive" the door was the one referred to by Grayson.

"There are only two doors. The other one, if it had blown open, would have had no effect on the stage," he said.

Grayson's 96-year-old friend Joyce Dowding, who lives in the town, said: "Billy was a regular at the Regent, or the Glasshouse as we called it [because of its glass roof].

"He used to lodge on Queen Street and would love walking along the promenade and meet people in the King's Cafe. He loved Redcar."

Grayson, who was born in Oxfordshire, died in 1995 at the age of 71.

The door will be kept in storage and may eventually be displayed, Mr Bates added.

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