Glasgow & West Scotland

TV and theatre favourite Glen Michael recalls a life in showbiz

Glen Michael

One of Scotland's best-loved entertainers has finally visited the only Glasgow theatre he did not play during a career spanning five decades.

Glen Michael found fame with his Cartoon Cavalcade, which ran for 26 years after first broadcasting in 1966.

But it was variety theatre that first brought the Devon-born entertainer to Scotland as a young man.

Now aged 90, he returned to the Panopticon, the only Glasgow venue he never played, to reflect on his career.

"I came to Scotland for five weeks - and I stayed 68 years," he recalled.

In a question and answer session at the Panopticon in Trongate, he spoke about his early stage shows alongside performers such as Jack Milroy. In 1965 the Five-Past-Eight show, in which they appeared at the Alhambra Theatre, closed down.

Image copyright STV
Image caption Glen Michael and his speaking lamp Paladin are etched into the memories of many Scots

"Jack came to me one day and said, 'I'm going to London. I want to try to break into the English showbusiness'. So he went - and I went home and said to my wife: 'We're out of a job!'"

But he was soon to land the job for which a whole generation remembers him, presenting the cartoon show Glen Michael's Cavalcade.

"In the days when Cavalcade was on - 1966 we started - we had one television in the corner of the room," he said.

"Susie or Johnny would be sitting down, cross-legged - and behind would come mum and dad, and perhaps even at the back were the granny and grandpa. Everybody was in the one room.

"People say it was a children's show - it never really was a children's show. It was a family show because everybody could enjoy it."

Image copyright STV
Image caption Glen Michael's Cartoon Cavalcade made him a household name in Scotland

The show, with his talking lamp Paladin and dogs Rusty and Dusty, made him a household name for Scottish audiences. At one point the show topped the viewing figures for the European Cup Final.

Paladin has a new home now, having been auctioned off for Children in Need. But while the show disappeared from Scottish screens in 1992, there are still plenty of nostalgic fans for whom Glen Michael is an integral part of their childhood.

"I often meet people on the street or in supermarkets - and they still come up to me. But they're usually grey-haired old ladies or gentlemen with receding hairlines. And they say, 'I used to watch you when I was 10', Glen said.

"It makes me feel great in one way - but then it makes me feel very old in another!"

There are others, however, for whom the show means even more. In the early 1980s Glen Michael was asked to record a message for a boy in a coma in Yorkhill Hospital

"A while ago, there was a knock at the door. And I opened the door - there's a guy there with two children.

"He said, 'I hope you don't mind Glen, but I'm the wee boy you gave the tape for'."