The Chuckle Brothers and Rotherham: Why the small South Yorkshire town will feel tragic death of Barry the most

Following the tragic news of the passing of comedy legend Barry Chuckle, Joe Cawthorn looks back on what it meant to grow up in the same town as the Chuckle Brothers.

Rotherham United chairman Tony Stewart with Chuckle Brothers, Paul and Barry, right, at Don Valley Stadium in 2008.
Rotherham United chairman Tony Stewart with Chuckle Brothers, Paul and Barry, right, at Don Valley Stadium in 2008.

Millions of people woke up on Sunday to the tragic news that one half of the legendary children’s entertainers The Chuckle Brothers had passed away.

But for the people of South Yorkshire town Rotherham, the loss of Barry at the age of 73 hit home harder than for most.

Our reporter Joe Cawthorn with the Chuckle Brothers. Barry Chuckle, left, Paul Chuckle, right

Along with his younger brother Paul, the comedy duo lit up living rooms around the world with their hit TV show Chuckle Vision in 1990s and 2000s.

Their catchphrase ‘To me, to you’ became synonymous with the town and its people and their constant tongue-in-cheek micky-taking of Rotherham and their love for its football club were highlights of their sketches.

Barry and Paul Elliott started their careers with their two other brothers, Jimmy and Brian.

But their natural chemical bond and perfect comedic timing saw them go on to bigger and better things.

Having interviewed them before their much-anticipated return to the boards of the Rotherham Civic Theatre back in 2015, their humble nature and honest pride in their town shone through.

They loved the place they were born, grew up and lived more than most.

It has been easy to give Rotherham a bashing over recent years but Barry and Paul both fly the flag for what is great about the place I also call home.

Barry’s staunch enthusiasm for the town that gave him his chance never wavered.

They worked hard, they remained humble and they shone a global light on what is known as ‘a small town near Sheffield’. They gave us our own identity.

As honourary presidents of Rotherham United, the duo would attend matches and take part in promotional activities, as well as charity work.

They loved this town, they loved its people and they loved their work.

One of the most famous episodes of their hit TV show Chucklevision centred around them playing in the famous red of the Millers.

Whenever they performed at the Civic a bumper crowd would turn out to welcome their hometown heroes back to where it all began.

It’s hard to imagine one without the other, but for Paul - who said following his brother’s death that he had not only lost his brother but his theatrical partner - the show must go on.

Rotherham was opened up to people around the world, the Chuckle Brothers are one of our greatest exports and I always remember a childish pride overcoming me when the famous Chuckle Vision theme tune began to play on my TV.

‘They’re from Rotherham, you know?’ I would say to classmates at school.

Barry never lost his love for Rotherham, and Rotherham never lost its love of Barry.

Today, we lost a true legend. Someone who had the greatest gift of all, the ability to make people laugh.

Barry did everything in his power, along with Paul, to let people know the real Rotherham.

And just as Barry was proud to have been from Rotherham, Rotherham should remain proud to have had him.

To you, Barry.