The “Boy” who became a star of the stage
Derek James chats to popular Norwich entertainer Nigel 'Boy' Syer ahead of the Showtime Summer Spectacular at Gorleston Pavilion Theatre.
Did You hear the one about the washing machine repairman who hit the spin button and tumbled into showbusiness?
His name is Nigel 'Boy' Syer who has developed from a school joker and pub entertainer in Norwich into one of East Anglia's best loved showmen.
And now people of all ages and from all over the country just love his gentle humour, storytelling and fine singing.
Nigel is looking forward to another busy season and the highlight will be another Showtime Summertime Spectacular at Gorleston Pavilion Theatre.
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'Life is wonderful. It seems to get better as I get older. I am a very happy man,' said Nigel, now aged 52 who lives with his wife of 30 years, Kay, at Salhouse.
He is such a gentle entertainer who warms up an audience with his songs and stories, inviting them into his wonderful, whimsical world.
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Nigel is a solo performer, but also shares the stage with other great Norfolk entertainers such as Lisa Marie, Hayley Moyses, Steve Ace, Simmons and Simmons and Olly Day.
So how did his career begin?
This modest and quietly spoken man is the son of a rabbit catcher who married the gamekeeper's daughter. He grew up with one foot in the city and the other in the county.
'I love Norwich and I love Norfolk. It's in my blood,' said Nigel.
He went to George White School in the city and then to Sprowston High School. He soon discovered he had a precious gift – the ability to make others smile.
His first school show was The Pied Piper. 'I think I only got the job because I was the one who could get a tune out of a penny whistle.'
With a little help from the one and only Eddie Gates, the blind Norwich musician, he taught himself to play the accordion and spent hours and hours learning to play the instrument.
After leaving school he worked as a repair man, specialising in washing machines and vacuum cleaners in and around Norwich – raising a smile wherever he went.
'I loved getting out and about meeting people, but I always wanted to be an entertainer,' he said.
That first step on the showbiz ladder for so many youngsters of the time was the mobile disco, so young Nigel set himself up as Satin Sounds – and off he went.
And before long, this nervous young man was telling stories and tales along with spinning the latest discs.
It takes nerves of steel to step out from behind the disco, but that's just what Nigel did. A star was born.
His heroes are the likes of Tommy Cooper, Norman Wisdom and Morecambe & Wise. 'They were very funny, very clever and never blue,' he says.
Back in the 60s and 70s their names were up in bright lights along the busy and bustling East Anglian coastline where Nigel now spends much of his summer.
'I am busier than ever,' said Nigel. He and Kay have two daughters, Jenny and Claire and two grandchildren, Sophie and Chloe.
'The way things are, I think that more people will be spending their holidays at home this year and when the sun comes out I can't think of anywhere I would rather be than Norfolk,' he says.