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Don't let our heritage go under the bulldozers

09 March 2006, Sheffield Today

COMEDY legend Sir David Jason today teamed up with The Star to help launch a campaign to save the South Yorkshire shop made famous by TV hit show Open All Hours.

Sir David made his name alongside Ronnie Barker in the smash hit show - still repeated on prime time TV today - as it pulled in up to 17 million viewers watching the adventures of Arkwright and Granville.

In the process, they turned the hairdresser's shop at Lister Avenue, Balby, Doncaster, which was used as Arkwright's store, into a South Yorkshire landmark.

Now The Star is launching a campaign to stop the famous building from being bulldozed after it emerged Balby's pre-1919 terraces are being targeted for a major housing project which would see new homes built on the site of current buildings.

No decisions yet have been made as to which buildings will stay and which will go.

Taking time out of his busy schedule, Sir David who went on to star in Only Fools and Horses and Frost today confirmed he was supporting the campaign.

He told The Star: "It would be a very great shame if a piece of comic history such as this were to disappear."

Sir David is one of a string of people connected with the show today urging Doncaster Council to save the building.

Top sitcom writer Roy Clarke created the series - and he is also backing our campaign.

Sykehouse-based Roy made his name writing the show in the 1970s, before going on to write programmes including Last of the Summer Wine.

He is urging those who make the decisions to steer clear of the shop, which is now known as Unisex Beautique.

Roy said: "All I can say is I remember at the time we were filming, the people who lived there put up with us, and they couldn't have been kind. Afterwards when the series finished they took a great pride in it. Personally I would be sad to see that link with it go. Ronnie Barker has gone, and that is the last link. I would support a campaign to save it.

"To me, that show was very important, and it was a huge thing in my career and I have fond memories of it still. With it still being repeated, it can't be bad, and the pleasure of working with people as talented as Ronnie Barker and David Jason was unique.

"But you almost think if they've their minds up there won't be much that can be done."

Meanwhile, the woman who runs the hairdressers which was used for the show is also backing The Star.

Helen Ibbotson has been running her business from the shop for 43 years and receives letters and visits from people as far away as Australia because of the building's comedy connection.

She opened the way for the shop to make it into TV history when she agreed to let producers use the building and says bus parties visit the street because of Open All Hours.

She said: "I support the campaign. I'm really surprised that they could think about knocking down this area.

"There is not only the shop, there are a lot of people who live round there as well, and it would leave them homeless if they pull it down.

"There are a lot of people who really enjoyed the series and I would have thought Doncaster Council would be glad to keep it for tourism. I think it would be a big loss to Doncaster. It would be a big loss to Doncaster's history. I remember the days when they filmed it here. We used to come down regularly to watch."