HE’S the record-breaking comedy superstar whose talents have taken him to Hollywood and the West End stage.
But before fame and fortune, rubberfaced funnyman Lee Evans spent some of his happiest days as a teenager in Scarborough in the early-1980s, working as a barman in Bland’s Cliff at the Bell Hotel, which closed in 1997.
The Bristol-born 47-year-old speaks of his love for the town he calls “the best place on the planet” in his new autobiography, The Life of Lee.
“I’d managed to get a summer job in Scarborough,” he explained. “After days of pacing our hallway looking at the phone, I’d plucked up enough courage to call Scott, who owned the Bell pub. I’d helped him by doing odd jobs around his pub a few years back when Dad was doing a summer season there, and he told me if I ever needed a job, there would be one at his pub.
“So I’d called him up and he’d said, like a jolly game show host, ‘Come on down!’”
Lee was accompanied to Scarborough by his future wife Heather, who found a job working at the John Bull Rock Shop around the corner from the pub.
“To top it all, the amazing landlady who ran the place had a small room free above the shop, and Heather and I rented it from her,” he said.
“Life, we thought, just could not get any better than this. It wasn’t much, but we were together and we were able to eat and we had a roof over our heads.”
The couple, who live in Essex, have now been married 27 years and have a daughter called Mollie.
He said: “To us, Scarborough was the best place on the planet. I worked hard at the pub, stocking up, lifting, carrying, cleaning and serving drinks to mostly Scots, Geordies and Mackems, a cross section of people who made the atmosphere in the pub electric.
“They’d arrive by the coachload, packing the town throughout the summer on day trips. They transformed Scarborough into a bustling, loud, exciting place with every pub, cafe and amusement arcade jammed full of families and groups of men and women hell-bent on having a good time.”
And Lee has a lasting memento from his days in Scarborough - he proposed to Heather after buying an engagement ring from Ratners’ jewellers in Newborough.
He added: “The Scarborough branch of Ratners was always busy, packed full of customers all gagging for its range of affordable-to-the-masses bling.
“Heather still wears that ring to this day. It cost £13.99, but to us it’s completely priceless.”