Buzz Hawkins interview: Bradshaws come to Lancaster

An unsung hero of a popular radio show has spoken of his pride as his creation celebrates its 32nd anniversary.

Friday, 25th September 2015, 3:32 pm
Buzz Hawkins

An unsung hero of a popular radio show has spoken of his pride as his creation celebrates its 32nd anniversary.

The northern family who have brought tears of laughter and sadness to many across the North West sprang from the imagination of one man more than 30 years ago.

The radio series which follows the lives of the Bradshaw family, started off as a poem on Piccadilly Radio in Manchester to help fill the evening air time.

Pomotional poster for Buzz Hawkins' The Bradshaw in 'Goosed'

Something about the squeaky voiced Billy, his stern father Alf and housewife mum Audrey - struck a chord with audiences.

Due to the input from listeners the show grew and now the loveable characters, voiced by musician Buzz Hawkins, can be heard and seen across several radio channels, BBC documentaries, on stage and in print as comic strips and short stories.

Buzz said: “I’m totally overwhelmed with how it’s grown, one of the producers said to me within a week of doing it all those years ago: ‘you’ll get a good year out of this Hawkins’ and I said ‘oh cheers I hope you’re right’ and look at it now.”

The working class family encounter many dramas during the series which is set in the fictional Manchester suburb of Barnoldswick.

Buzz, who grew up in Manchester, found inspiration for the show through his own family.

He said: “Alf’s character started off as my dad and became every northern man I ever met.

“Same with most mothers who tend to get words mixed up like Audrey and Billy is every kid asking strange questions.

“I heard one the other day, ‘I’ve got a headache in both my legs from running dead fast’ so it’s never short of inspiration.”

Buzz often refers to himself as “the invisible man” as his voice was the only thing visible for many years.

The 62-year-old said: “During a stand up show in the front row sat a couple who were looking at me, enjoying the show. I walk out to the back to sign some CDs and the same couple walk across the foyer and she said taxi? I just went hey?”

The Bradshaws was nominated twice for the Sony Award for Best Use of Comedy on Radio.

During the 1990s everyone wanted to book Billy Bradshaw when the character was developed into a mechanical puppet.

Billy and Buzz featured on several shows including the ITV Children in Need marathon with presenters Richard and Judy.

Although Buzz is proud of his success he admits it hasn’t always been a barrel of laughs.

He said: “I went through a real tough time for a couple of years because I’m a musician as well.

“I’ve got a couple of albums out there, which nobody wanted to know about because they wanted to know about The Bradshaws.

“That was tough, I started to almost resent the invention of the characters and then common sense prevailed.

“It’s a legacy I should be very proud of, Peter Kay told me that, he said ‘you shouldn’t think about anything else, you have got something that will last forever.”

The Bradshaws show will be coming to the Lancaster Grand Theatre on October 22.

Tickets are £19 and are available at or by calling the box office on 01524 64695.