Interview with Dolores Bourne (The Gojos)
INTERVIEW WITH DOLORES BOURNE
By Gary P. Rose
Interview conducted on 21st August 2011
Having interviewed several of the Gojos, I recieved a surprise telephone call from another of the dancers, Dolores Bourne. She had recently met up with the other Gojos for a reunion (arranged by Jo Cook) and, during the course of their conversation, the website cropped up. Of course, Jo, Linda, Lesley and Wendy had already been interviewed so Dolores didn't want to be left out! Dolores told me that the Gojos reunion had taken place on account of this website, which made me feel very proud. A very pleasant lady, she told me about her career and how she got her start in show business. She talked about the people she'd worked with and the venues she'd worked at.
Gary: "Can you tell me something about your family and early background?"
Dolores: "My mother, Dolores Maria, came from Malta and my father, Vincent, was a Major in the Kent Regiment, called the Buff. He was stationed in Malta during the Second World War and that's how he met my mother. He was re-assigned and had to leave Malta during the seige when there was no food but he didn't want to leave my mother behind so he married her and arranged for her to live with my Grandparents in Tenterden in Kent. Of course, it can't have been easy for her living with relatives who she didn't know, but they made her feel very welcome. My mother soon made a lot of friends".
"Back in England, my father - who had been a POW - was re-uited with my Mum and they settled in St. Michaels, on the outskirts of Tenterden, where I was born. I always wanted to dance - my Mother used to do ballet in theatres in Malta and I inherited my love for dancing from her. But my father always wanted to be an actor, so I think performing was in my blood"
Gary: "It's interesting to hear about your Maltese background. Have you ever visited Malta?"
"I'm an only child and so was my father so I grew up without any Aunts, Uncles and cousins. But, when I was 21, my Mother took me to Malta for the very first time to meet her family. She was one of ten - so she had lots of relatives. When we arrived at Luca airport we discovered that her entire family had turned up to meet us! The airport balcony was full of my relatives! As they had all turned up in cars, we went in convoy to the village where my mother was born!. Being an only child, I couldn't believe it!. I met all my Mothers relatives on the same day, my aunts, uncles, cousins.....what an experience that was!"
Gary: "Where where were you educated?"
Dolores: "I was educated at Penderel School and then at Ashford Grammar School for girls"
Gary: "When and where did you start dancing?"
Dolores: "I started dancing when I was three years old at a local dancing school in Tenterden, followed by the Hastings School of Dancing run by Phyllis Godfrey. At this establishment, I did shows and performed in dance festivals. I then went to the London College of Dance and Drama, which was a branch of the Arts Educational Trust. But I desperately wanted to be on the stage, so, every Saturday morning, I'd go to the Dance Centre in Floral Street and do professional classes, such as pas-de-deux, classic and modern jazz. I wanted to learn all the dance movements so that I'd meet the requirements needed for audtions"
"At dance school I passed all the major exams and learned all the dance techniques but I wanted to learn to dance in a professional way as opposed to the techical way so, by attending professional classes and working with professsional people, I gained more experience,. This was essential for auditions and television work"
"In those days I didn't have an agent so I had to attend open-auditions. Having an agent meant that dancers would get to know about auditions before those without agents. So, those of us without agents, would have to attend open-auditions, It was more of a competition for us to get a job and very hard work but it was great"
Gary: "How did you eventually get into show business?"
Dolores: "I always wanted to dance professionally, so when my course ended I bought 'The Stage' trade newspaper and began looking for auditions. My first audition was successful but quite daunting as I had to sing as well as dance. I joined the West End tour of "Hello Dolly". It was a very exciting time. During this tour my friends started calling me Dolly and that is how most people know me now. It was Dora Bryan who instigated this saying that Dolores was a bit long winded and thought Dolly suited me better"
"I was very lucky really because "Hello Dolly" lasted for six or seven months and I got my full Equity membership which meant I could work in London, on television, in films and all aspects of the media. Thankfully, I didn't have to do summer season and panto in order to get my full Equity membership. I was also lucky because, when I joined "Hello Dolly", some of the original cast were leaving the show and one of the dancers leaving was the same size as me so I fitted into her dresses and shoes perfectly"
Gary: "How did you first meet Jo Cook and get to audition for her?"
Dolores: "During the time that the show ("Hello Dolly") was in Birmingham, I saw an advertisement in 'The Stage' saying that Jo Cook was looking for dancers. I went down to London and auditioned - I remember the music was "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" by The Beatles - and was delighted when she took my details saying she would be in touch with some forthcoming work. I then had to rush back to Birmingham for the evening show"
"After joining the Gojos, I worked on "The Bachelors Show" and, later, performed on "Top of the Pops". I made my debut - and final appearance! - dancing to "Jumping Jack Flash" by the Rolling Stones. It was the last song Jo choreographed for "Top of the Pops"
Gary: "What other shows, TV, dance troupes and choreographers have you worked with?"
Dolores: "In addition to my work with Jo, I've worked for Irving Davies' in "Dick Whittington" at the London Palladium with Tommy Steele and Mary Hopkin which had an extended run. Jo was then asked to choreograph the next show to follow this into the London Palladium, which was a variety show with Max Bygraves and Freddie Starr. So this meant rehearsing the variety in the morning followed by two panto shows, one in the afternoon and one in the evening. A pretty exhausting time but extremely enjoyable. Later on I travelled to Canada with a tour of "The Palladium Show" with Des O'Connor and Michael Bentine".
"The Palladium Show" in Canada was the last time I worked with Barbara Von Der Heyde. It was in the January of 1970 and I haven't seen her since. No one has, what happend to her is a mystery"
"I danced in a West End production of "The Merry Widow" at the Cambridge Theatre with a singer and actress called Elizabeth Webb and also had a part in a Christmas production of "Toad of Toad Hall" at the Duke of Yorks Theatre with Michael Bates as Toad, Mervyn Hayes as Ratty, John Franklin Robbins as Badger and Richard Goolden as Mole".
."Between these shows, I worked two seasons cruising on the Mediterranean on Shaw Savill Liners which, in addition to two evening performances, entailed doing ballet lessons and running a Charm School. The choreographer for the cruises was Geoff Ferris. I've also done numerous pantomimes and worked in cabaret, all in London and with Jo Cook as the choreographer. The venues for our cabaret shows included the Savoy, the Hilton and Grosvenor House"
Gary: "Do you have any amusing show biz recollections?"
Dolores: "I appeared in an ITV variety show where, amongst other things, we had to perform the Can-Can. My claim to fame on this show is that, being the smallest in a line of dancers, I had to remain on stage as the other girls made their exit., my Can-Can skirt flung over my head and bent over whilst the producer ran the programme credits over my derierre. Seemed like a good idea at the time!"
"Referring to the Palladium tour in Canada, the opening scenes of the show were set in London. On stage we had such icons as a red phone box, Post Office letter boxes and a real Mini car. For publicity in the Ottowa newspaper, I was photographed feeding Des O'Connor "Engllish" fish and chips. There were many takes to get it right and, by the time the shoot was finished, we both felt we'd had enough chips to last a lifetime"
Gary: "Where did you meet your husband?"
Dolores: "I met my husband, Fred, whilst working on the Shaw Savill ship 'Southern Cross'. He was the Chief Electrical Officer during the cruise season. We have been happily married for forty years"
Gary: "What happened after your dancing career?"
Dolores: "I gave up dancing to become a full-time Mum to our three children. When I returned to work I taught dancing at a local private school. Then a very good friend, who is a dentist, suggested I trained as a dental nurse and, for fifteen years, I worked with her in her dental practice. I'm now fully retired, although I occasionally help out at the hair-dressing salon run by other friends. I enjoy the social atmosphere and generally make myself useful and it's great fun. Any remaining time is spent with my family and enjoying seeing the grand children grow up"
"My children have carried on the musical tradition; my daughter plays the piano, flute and cello, my middle son plays the drums and my youngest son plays the guitar in his own band. He has supported many acts, including McFly and Florence and the Machine. My husband and son often play together as a duo. I'm hoping our love for music and performing will spread to my grandchilden"
Thank you, Dolores, for giving up your valued time and for giving us a wonderful insight into your career.
(c) G. P. Rose / D. Bourne 2012
Read Dolores Bourne's biography.