Legendary former Birmingham Mail theatre critic Fred Norris is hitting the headlines himself after 50 years of reporting – with a lifetime accolade.
Fred, now 84, is being made a Life Member of Birmingham Press Club in recognition of his contribution to regional journalism over five decades covering the theatre.
The honour will be bestowed on him at the Press Club’s annual Christmas luncheon, which takes place on Friday, December 9, at Marco Pierre White’s restaurant on the 25th floor rooftop restaurant at Birmingham’s latest landmark building – The Cube.
Fred first worked for the Evening Mail in the 1940s, and retired twice – finally hanging up his notebook in 2006 after 50 years as the paper’s theatre critic.
His dedication to entertainment in the city led to him being known as Birmingham’s Mr Showbiz. He first reviewed shows at the Birmingham Hippodrome in the days of twice-nightly variety, interviewing greats such as Lena Horne and up-and-coming comedians such as Max Bygraves and Des O’Connor.
Over the years, Fred formed friendships with many of the stars, particularly with Ken Dodd, who he described.
He didn’t just review shows, but spent time backstage and in bars interviewing stars for full-page features and news snippets.
In 1999, he had a book published to mark the centenary of the Birmingham Hippodrome.
He also has his own seat in the theatre, marked with a plaque which calls him “Birmingham’s ‘Mr Showbiz’ for 50 years”.