Rolf Harris, 2011, ITV Life Stories (screen grab)Television presenter and performer Rolf Harris has returned to the stage for the first time since two allegations he sexual assaulted women were reported by the press. He denies both claims.

The popular singer, artist and entertainer – famous for fronting the BBC’s Animal Hospital and Channel 5’s Animal Clinic – fronted his first live show at the weekend.

He told the audience at Bristol Hippodrome:  “You’ve no idea what this means, for you all to turn up with such support and such enthusiasm.”

The 83- year-old Australian became a household name in the fifties, with roles on children’s television for both the BBC and ITV, before becoming a celebrity with his quirky music singles, most of which he performed on Saturday to the crowd of around 1,800  – including Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport and Waltzing Matilda.

Harris despite the “public shaming” by the police has not been charged with any offence and remains innocent until proven otherwise. The first claim suggests that he sexually assaulted a teenager over twenty years ago. Harris denies the claims made by a 43-year-old woman. Another female also claims she witnessed a lurid incident in the 1990s involving the entertainer and a woman.

According to the local Bristol newspaper the audience gave Rolf numerous standing ovations with critic Martin Booth noting of the evening “Harris deserved every single minute of his standing ovation.”

Rolf Harris in 'The Rolf Harris Show' ATV 1979Earlier this month comedian and television presenter Paul O’Grady said he didn’t believe Harris was guilty, noting:

It’s not about the victim. It’s about ‘Look who has done it now. Look it’s another dirty old man’… The real villains are getting away with murder. Half of them I don’t believe — Rolf Harris for one. Who else are they going to destroy from my childhood? Andy Pandy? Bill and Ben the Flower Pot Men?”

Adding on the police publicity of the allegations, “Whatever happened to being innocent until found guilty? It’s destroying their reputations.”

Fans outside the Bristol theatre also voiced their support, one claiming alleged victims were just “jumping on the bandwagon” and “I think it’s all got out of hand, the whole lot.”

Channel 5 have dropped Rolf’s Animal Clinic while the investigation remains open. Time Magazine listed Harris as one of the top entertainers of the 20th century.

Below is how Seven News Australia reported the stars return to the stage.

 
[Pictured: Top Left: Rolf on Life Stories, ITV 2011. Pictured Bottom Right: The Rolf Harris Show, ATV Network 1979 for ITV]

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