LAST week, prior to the release of new film Stan and Ollie, the Telegraph & Argus recalled Laurel and Hardy performing at Bradford’s Alhambra theatre in 1952 and 1954.

Derek Lister was 16 when the duo came to town in 1952. In his book Bradford Born and Bred, Derek, now 80, writes: “I had been a fan since seeing them at the Grange in Way Out West. I wondered if I’d be able to obtain their autographs during their visit. All the stars appearing locally stayed at the Midland Hotel. I had a contact, Mr Freschini, the head waiter. Dressed in my suit, grasping my autograph book, I headed for the hotel. Luck was on my side - he was in. I asked if Laurel and Hardy were staying there and, looking over his shoulder, he guided me to a corner. ‘Yes,’ he answered. I declared the reason for my visit and he replied: ‘No chance’. I must have looked disappointed, for he suddenly said: ‘Follow me’. He led me upstairs to a second-floor landing and knocked on a door. He turned, said: ‘Good luck’ and disappeared.

The next few seconds were an eternity. Was it a joke at my expense? Then the door opened and a small man appeared. A smile appeared and a voice I’d head many times - but only in films. It was Stan Laurel! ‘Hello, young man,’ he said. I heard my voice saying, ‘Hello, Mr Laurel. Could I please have your autographs?’ ‘Come in,’ he replied. I entered a large suite with a settee, on which were seated two ladies, one blonde, the other brunette. Stan introduced me to the duo’s wives. A table was laid with food, one of them asked if I wanted anything to eat. At that moment a door opened and a figure emerged - Ollie! He looked at me, turned to Stan and said: ‘What is it, Stanley?’ ‘This young man wants our autographs,’ he replied. A grin spread across Ollie’s face as he uttered the famous remark: ‘Why, certainly.’

This large man seemed to float across the room. He shook my hand, I was asked to sit in an armchair and they asked me questions. How old was I? Where did I work? Both seemed genuinely interested. I was in another world. Stan told me years earlier he had appeared at the Empire Theatre in Morley Street with the stage show Fred Karno’s Army, and at the old Princess Theatre. He stayed at a theatrical boarding house in Great Horton Road.

“Not once was I asked how I’d got to their room; it was as if I was an old friend. After a while Ollie stuck one of their character pictures in my autograph book and they both signed the page. It was time to go.

“Both wives kissed me on the cheek, making me blush, and Ollie and Stan gave me those well-known smiles and walked me to the door. Hands were shaken and I was bid farewell. I walked down the corridor and looked back, Stan was still there and gave me a wave. How I wish I’d had a camera, asked more questions. But no one could take it away from me. For 15 minutes I’d been in the company of the world’s greatest ever comedy team.”

The following Friday Derek went to see Laurel and Hardy's Alhambra show with his mother. “Afterwards she wanted to see them at the stage door. After 10 minutes they emerged, everyone stood back but I went to open the taxi door," he recalls. "In went Ollie with a nod, followed by Stan, who said: Thank you, young man.’

"Did they remember me? I looked at Mum, we linked arms and walked home, laughing all the way.”