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Meet Birmingham's most showbiz family - The Spencers
Meet the Spencers – Birmingham’s most showbizzy family. Mum Olga, dad Roger and children Bonnie, 41, Oliver, 36, and Holly, 29, could each write a book about their collective mission to entertain the nation.
Mum Olga, dad Roger and children Bonnie, 41, Oliver, 36, and Holly, 29, could each write a book about their collective mission to entertain the nation.
The Spencers can even claim some of the credit for Oscar-nominated hit movie Les Misérables.
* When Trevor Nunn opened the original musical at The Barbican in London in October 1985, Gavroche was played by Oliver Spencer, an unknown ten-year-old schoolboy from Sutton Coldfield.
*Twenty-five years later, kid sister Holly Dale Spencer is appearing alongside Anne Hathaway in the all-star film version of Les Misérables, as well as playing the lead in the West End’s Kiss Me Kate.
* Elder daughter Bonnie starred in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat with Phillip Schofield. She’s still singing and married to Dave Reilly, former drummer with China Crisis.
* Dad Roger Spencer used to be the drummer in Brumbeat bands such as Mike Sheridan and The Nightriders and The Idle Race, playing alongside the likes of Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne.
* And mum Olga was a dancer with some of Britain’s biggest stars including Morecambe & Wise, Tommy Cooper, Des O’Connor and Harry Worth.
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The son of Freddie Spencer, a Melody Maker award-winning dance band drummer, Roger grew up on Sladefield Road in Ward End and started work as an aerial fitter with Sweeney Radio.
He joined Mike Sheridan and the Nightriders as drummer, and saw Roy Wood go to The Move, then Mike Sheridan replaced by Jeff Lynne, who would go on to found supergroup ELO.
The band changed their name from Nightriders to The Idle Race and Roger says: “We went from having a line-up like Cliff Richard and the Shadows to being like The Beatles.
“Jeff was soon running the show musically but he was never a speaker on stage, so I was the frontman. Eventually Jeff ended up going to The Move as well, any my final years were with the Steve Gibbons Band.
“I’m still great friends with Jeff. I took him out for a curry in Sutton Coldfield only last autumn when he was over here. I’ve been over to Jeff’s house in Beverly Hills, too.
“When I was there I bumped into an old friend called Pete Conway – and discovered he was Robbie Williams’ dad!
“That’s a bit like my life. I know everyone, but things haven’t always quite worked out for me, Still, I’ve had a great life, I’ve got a lovely family and I couldn’t want any more.”
Roger re-invented himself as comic Ollie Spencer and appeared in 1970s’ TV hit The Comedians, later becoming warm-up man for Tiswas.
“I used to appear onscreen with characters like Barbara Woodhouse, and knew everyone like John Lodge while they waited in the wings, but I never became an integral part of the show.”
Ollie is currently organising his 70th birthday party for next month, while still doing ‘bits and bobs’ like after-dinner comedy and entertaining on cruise ships. And in March he’ll play Spike in Malcolm Stent’s Go And Play Further Up Your Own End.
“It will be my first stage musical... at the age of 70!” http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/lifestyle/showbiz/meet-birminghams-most-showbiz-family-1228470