North-East comedian Eli Woods dies

Woods, who was in his 90s, was born in Stockton and came from a family of entertainers, including Jimmy James and his uncle James Casey.

The Northern Echo, 2nd May 2014

Chuckle muscles at the ready, I prepared to be simultaneously tickled and enlightened by David Mitchell's History of British Comedy.

Sadly, however, it turned out to be an all-too-familiar trawl through the early days of music hall, variety and radio, with precious little of the Mitchell magic we know and love from his prolific radio and TV output.

A catch-all documentary series such as this is only really as good as its clips and contributors, so it was disappointing to find Mitchell, or his producer, rounding up the usual suspects - Michael Grade, Barry Cryer, Ken Dodd and token academic CP Lee, all of whose reflections on comedy have been documented to death over the years.

The country must be crawling with people with a different take on early British comedy and its connection to the comedy of today, as well as people in their 70s, 80s and 90s who saw the likes of Max Miller, Sid Field, Robb Wilton and Jimmy James in their heydays. Where were they?

By far the most vivid and original recollections of early comedy came from 91-year-old Denis Norden, a living encyclopedia of British comedy and variety who merits a documentary series to himself.

Nick Smurthwaite, The Stage, 11th March 2013

James Casey obituary

James Casey, who has died aged 88, was the son of the gravel-voiced comedian Jimmy James and produced the long-running radio comedy show The Clitheroe Kid; he also discovered the comic Les Dawson.

The Telegraph, 23rd May 2011

It was even unfunnier than Count Arthur Strong's Radio Show! which returned to Radio 4 on Wednesday morning. This show has its devotees. They are people who find the idea of a person who makes mistakes with words and is less grand than he thinks both hilarious and original.

In the Christmas spirit, I refer them to Sheridan's Mrs Malaprop (b 1775, still going strong), Mrs Feather (on the old Light Programme circa 1946) and the hovering spirit of the late, great Jimmy James.

Gillian Reynolds, The Telegraph, 21st December 2010