Smith of the Star: Dressing top female stars

Michael Parkinson.
Michael Parkinson.
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JEAN Bamforth danced with some of Variety’s great names - and worked with even bigger stars in her later career.

Jean, born at Piece End, High Green, Sheffield, in August 1925, quit dancing to have two sons Simon and Tim and returned to work as a dresser at the BBC.

Jean managed the wardrobes of 1960s and 70s stars like Shirley Bassey, Cilla Black, Petula Clark and Nana Mouskouri when they appeared on BBC shows and took care of all the top female stars ahead of their TV appearances.

It was during this time that Jean met BBC photographer David Edwards who was later to become her partner.

David worked on the Michael Parkinson show from its inception and photographed all his guests. “Jean was such a lively and amazing woman,” said David, who shared his house in Norwich with Jean up to her death.

“No two days were the same with her although she did suffer terribly with her back - all her dancing and acrobatics when she was young gave her curvature of the spine but if ever people asked her if she would have done things differently and had better health in her older age, she would say: “I wouldn’t change one minute.”

David himself had an amazing career and tells of one memorable night on the Parkinson Show. “There was a famous occasion when Michael interviewed the boxer Muhammed Ali, asked him about his religion and Ali lost his temper with him.

“That was the first time Michael had brought his parents Freda and Jack down to London from Barnsley to watch the show. After the confrontation between the two on air the show ended and Michael’s dad came over to Michael and said: “Eee lad, I wouldn’t have stood for that, I would have given him a right-hander.”