Allan Smethurst was raised in Sheringham from the age of 11, his mother coming from the village of Stiffkey. He joined the Post Office in 1953 and hummed tunes on his daily round for 12 years, writing and singing songs in his native Norfolk dialect.
An audition tape sent to the BBC earned him a spot on Ralph Tuck’s BBC East regional radio programme Wednesday Morning. His popularity led to Tuck recording Smethurst on his own record label, ‘The Smallest Recording Organisation in the World’, based in Lowestoft. A four track EP made the EP charts in 1965. This was followed by another EP release by Tuck, and an album The Singing Postman’s Year. He was then signed to EMI who re-released earlier songs and recorded new items. This film on YouTube summarises the life and times of Allan Smethurst…
In 1966, the Singing Postman’s best known hit “Hev Yew Gotta Loight, Boy?” won Smethurst the Ivor Novello Award for best novelty song of the year. A colour promotional film was made – below – which has survived to this day. He made numerous live and promotional performances, including appearing on Top of the Pops alongside the Rolling Stones! The song had a small comeback in 1994, when it was featured in a television commercial for Ovaltine.
Smethurst left the music industry in 1970 citing stage fright and arthritic hands. He later admitted to an alcohol problem and revealed all his earnings were gone and he was penniless. He spent his last 20 years living quietly in a Salvation Army hostel in Grimsby, where he died from a heart attack in December 2000.