Laurel and Hardy
and the
Sons of the Desert
are at the heart of
Bowler Dessert Online




Brats Tent's first meeting, 1988

Brats at 30

The Brats Tent are celebrating their 30th University on Octember

Our regular meeting will be held on Monday 8th Oct at the Harlequin pub on Nursery Street in Sheffield where we are hoping to celebrate with members old and new . We are also hosting a 30th University event at the same venue on Thursday 25th Oct including a special performance of Andrew Shepherd's wonderful play The Fiddle and the Bow.

Our twins from the Sailors Beware Tent are joining us for this special event and we are hoping that fellow Sons can join us to help celebrate. You would be most welcome. If anyone can make it along it would be great if you could let us know (For details and to contact us see Brats Tent Sheffield Facebook page).

Brats Tent (Sheffield) factfile 
  • Foundered Monday 17th Oct 1988 with Bill Cubin and Nancy Wardell and over 100 future 'Sons' in attendance.
  • We have only had 3 Oases -
  • The Princess Royal 1988-1999, The New Crown 1999 - 2017, The Harlequin 2017 - present
  • 2 Grand Sheiks - John Burton 1988 - 2008, Kevin Hepplestone 2008 - present
  • 4 Vice Sheiks - Chris Croft, John Hurst, Kevin Hepplestone, John Burton Jnr
  • 4 Grand Viziers - Steve Barton, Gary Sanderson, Alan Hancock, Mark Johnson
  • And hosted 2 UK Conventions - 1999 & 2015

My, my, and still they come...

John Burton


Bright idea

Just had a bright idea. Tent members across the UK, even the world, might speak to local cinema managers to ask if they could put up a poster advertising local meetings.

In an area in an area where there is no tent maybe put up a poster advertising the Sons in general.

Possibly hand out flyers to cinema goers.

Might be a bit of a fantasy asking to say a few words just before the film starts.

Melvin McFadden

Untold story of Laurel and Hardy - and the city sidekick behind their rise to fame

from Birmingham Live website

It's being billed as 'the untold story of the world's greatest comedy act'. Set to open in the UK at the height of the Oscar fever season, Stan & Ollie pairs Chicago-born actor John C Reilly, as Oliver Hardy, with British star Steve Coogan, as Stan Laurel.

Parts of the film were shot at the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley and at the Old Rep Theatre on Station Street in Birmingham.

But one key character who will be missing from the movie is Brummie actor Charlie Hall - even though he now has a city pub named after him.

Born in Washwood Heath in 1899, Charlie made his way to Hollywood and ended up starring in 47 films with the kings of comedy. Today, he's still remembered in the city thanks to the JD Wetherspoon pub called the Charlie Hall, a former bingo hall on Barnabas Road, Erdington. The last film Charlie made with Laurel and Hardy was the 1940 release, Saps At Sea.

The new movie is set years later - which means Charlie is not in the list of characters.

But the trailer has received the thumbs-up from Laurel & Hardy expert John Ullah. He co-founded the Laughing Gravy Tent in 1993, 40 years after a meeting between American mature student John McCabe and Stan Laurel at the Birmingham Hippodrome in 1953.  As well as becoming the talent-recognising, 1961 biographer of the comedy duo, McCabe also founded Sons of the Desert- The International Laurel & Hardy Society - in 1965.

Today, Birmingham's Laughing Gravy Tent welcomes more than 100 members to its monthly meetings, making it the UK's biggest branch of the Laurel & Hardy Appreciation Society.

After watching the trailer, John said: "As you can imagine, I am now eagerly awaiting its release. Jeff Pope is a brilliant writer and Steve Coogan and John C Reilly are superb as Stan & Ollie. As with all films, they've had to invent a few things to make it more interesting. For instance there was no argument between them over Ollie's appearance with Harry Langdon in the film 'Zenobia'. In fact Stan sent Ollie a telegram to wish him luck.

"But I would like to see the whole film before I make a judgement, as trailers can sometimes be deceptive. The film has been well received in the US, by the various fans who have seen it. And hopefully it will rekindle more interest in Laurel and Hardy."

Six years ago, Brewin Books published John's biography of Charlie Hall, called This Is More Than I Can Stand.

The book was launched at the Charlie Hall pub on March 26, 2012 and its pages detail how Hall also starred with everyone from Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Groucho Marx, Alfred Hitchcock, Abbott & Costello and many more.

The Stan & Ollie film will premiere on October 21 with its leading stars appearing at Cineworld, Leicester Square as the highlight of the London Film Festival's closing night, before going on general release in the UK from January 11, 2019. 

Stan and Ollie movie

I was looking forward to this till now seeing the trail - honestly it looks like one of those 'don't let the truth get in the way of a good(!) story'.

Stephen Barlow

Fraternal page

Peter Andrews has a page on Facebook for his Fraternally Yours Tent of Bristol. It is certainly well worth a look at

Blockheads page

Iain Wilson runs a page on Facebook for the Blockheads Tent of Edinburgh. It is also well worth a visit at

Stan and Deliver

Phil Ruston brings this clever image our way!