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Laughing for good

ON A MISSION: Nana Kwado Ameyaw Gyearbuor Yiadom (also known as Humphrey Barclay]

COMEDY IS considered to be the cure for many ailments and this November, it will not only improve health but also combat poverty, illiteracy and help build job prospects in Ghana.

The latest installment of the comedy show Strictly Come Laughing will see comedians and celebrities from the world of film and television come together to raise money for the charity - Friends of Tafo, which helps to develop the Ghanaian village of Kwahu Tafo.

Both the brainchild of Humphrey Barclay, former head controller of comedy for London Weekend Television (LWT), has brought together Stephen K Amos, Eddie Nestor, Slim, Glenda Jaxson, Kane Brown and other stars who will be a part of the 13-strong line-up.

Comedy has been a way of life for Barclay for more than 45 years, starting his career as a director of the play Cambridge Circus, which starred John Cleese and Bill Oddie. He quickly moved on to sitcoms where he worked on hit programmes as Doctor In The House, No Problem, Mixed Blessing and Channel 4’s Desmond’s.

Now retired, the producer spends the majority of his time raising money for the charity and putting on comedy shows within the black community. He explained how his comedy show can make a huge difference to the lives of so many people.

“This show is entirely to raise money for what I do in my role as an African chief,” said the 71-year-old. “Eleven years ago I was asked to take the role of a voluntary officer in Ghana; so I became the chief of development and I spend most of my time now seeing what I can do to develop life for the people in the village.”

“One of our biggest fund raisers is Strictly Come Laughing and it’s wonderful what we can do with this money. A ticket can cost £17.50 and for that money we can send two children to school for a year,” he said.

Barclay is well aware of the fact that a little goes a long way, but he admitted that although he cannot compete with the major international charities, his work can make a big difference to people’s daily lives.

“We are not one of the big boys like Oxfam. We can’t offer relief from an earthquake or anything like that, but what we can do is show our support,” said the Desmond’s producer.
“Ghana is a very forward thinking country and it has a great primary school education system, but parents still have to provide uniforms, books, pens and pencils and, without them, their child couldn’t go to school but just £10 changes all that.”

Strictly Come Laughing will be held at the Hackney Empire, 291 Mare Street, E8 1EJ on November 18. For more information visit www.hackneyempire.co.uk

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