El Granadas and Peter

The history of a variety act.

El Granadas and me - Steven Prentice

My earliest memories are travelling around with my parents and grandparents who formed the act “El Granadas and Peter”. There wasn’t just me, but my brother Richard and my sister Paula too.


It’s a background that I’ve come to appreciate more and more as I get older, since it helped to make me feel quite oblivious to the normal life constraints that dictate most people’s lives and keep them from following their dreams.



I doubt if I would ever have had such and interesting and unusual life if it hadn't been for the freewheeling early life I experienced with “El Granadas”. Of course, I


knew nothing of the day to day struggles and difficulties they encountered, I just had the “good bits” of  travelling to different towns in Britain and abroad, watching the shows in many exotic theatres and circuses, and feeling secure and loved by all the family.





How I wish that I had had a cine camera to record some of the amazing sights and experiences that now only exist as a child’s hazy memory.


The ships, the drives, the scenery. The theatres, the circuses, the people, the different countries. It was an amazing way to begin a life.


In some ways I wish I had been older and able to appreciate the experience more.




Cecil and Lila and me  - I’m the little one

Morcambe and Wise flagged El Granadas down on the road so they could see me as a baby. Roy Castle used to come and see me tucked into bed in a trunk as a toddler and said he wished he’d been brought up like that. I spent  some time talking to Larry Grayson in his dressing room on one bill and I was allowed to drive the follow spot at the City Varieties, Leeds whilst the “limes” boy got a drink - what a life!



When mum and dad finally settled down in the late 1950’s it was a different life again.


I did not like school at all. The lessons were fine but the other kids were a nightmare not helped by the fact that I went to five senior schools as dad moved around establishing his new career.


In each school I was the new kid who had not grown up with them, had very little in common  and who was “different”.

Very swiftly, I learned to keep my mouth shut about my background. Most of these kids had not been outside the town they lived in  - I’d been to the Arctic Circle.



At the Artic Circle

Dad gives me a “piggy back” on his unicycle

A settled  existence in Blackpool in February 1956

The family with ropes—I seem to have roped my bike!

Dad  with a poster for the act

With a Laplander—love the hair!

The pleasure of touring with El Granadas was to return for me and later for my brother Richard.   


During our summer holidays from school mum and dad let us go on tour with Lila and Cecil. By this time they were doing galas and other events as well as theatres.


I loved it, as did Richard when he became old enough to join me. Different towns, different shows, the dogs to play with and take for walks - wonderful.


Cecil decided he would teach me some of the act skills and soon I was spinning a rope and riding a unicycle. 


I never learned to do it well enough to join them on stage and before long Richard and I were too old to tour with them.


When Cecil died in 1971 I cried my eyes out. I was twenty and my lovely granddad had gone.


I inherited his old police van. This had taken the place of the old ambulance when it got too unroadworthy.


By this time I had become interested in radio and had started my own mobile discotheque, so the police van was perfect for taking my disco gear round as “ZAP Discotheques”.







Doing a gala in Wales  - the old ambulance was now the act transport

After Cecil died, dad had to identify his father’s body since he been killed by in an accident. He told me that this was the hardest thing he had ever had to do.


Lila, my grandmother, returned to London and stayed in the area that she and Cecil had lived for most of their working lives. As she became older and the area she lived in became worse mum and dad bought a house for her to live in nearer to them in Aylesbury.


She lived near Aylesbury for many years before requesting to go to Brinsworth House, the showbusiness home. Unfortunatly, she had for many years been suffering from dementia which only worsened as time went on. You could still have a lucid conversation with her but she would tend to ask you the same question again and again. She died on 4th January 2007 at Brinsworth House and at that time was the oldest resident.






I eventually managed to get into radio, joining the pirate radio station Radio Caroline in 1973 and moving to another pirate radio ship, Radio Atlantis in 1974. El Granadas left me with no fear of an audience or living abroad. As commercial radio started in Britain I moved on shore to take up a position at Piccadilly Radio in late 1974 where I stayed for 5 years.


I then set up a jingle and commercial production company with a musician in 1979. Eventualy, I closed this down to set up on my own company which I now run with my son.


One of the advantages of being with El Granadas and moving round the country with my parents after they had left the act was I was left with no real accent. I had lived in the North and the South and abroad. This has allowed me to be a voice over and this is how I earn a lot of my living. I have a lot to thank El Granadas for.   





On Radio Caroline in 1973

In our recording studios in 2008 - where did the hair go?

Prince Charles meets Lila in Brinsworth Houise