Gottle of Greenwich Geer

Methers just told me that Ray Alan, the ventriloquist that anyone who was a kid between the 1950s and the 1980s will remember from childrens’ telly, has died. I had no idea that he was born (18th Sept 1930) in Greenwich and went to Morden Terrace School. He started out, Wikipedia tells me, by appearing at his local Gaumont cinema. I wonder if that’s the one that the young Christopher Fowler used to hang around up at the Standard?

Alan started his career as a call-boy (not nearly as rude as it sounds) at Lewisham Hippodrome- not the Broadway, the Hippodrome – an amazing building - just look at it , sadly demolished in 1961. He worked his way up the variety circuit, and found himself on the same bill as Laurel and Hardy.

He was most famous for Lord Charles, the aristocratic drunk who always scared the bejesus out of me as a kid, but I always insisted on watching him, if only to delay bedtime for a few more minutes. 

Alan inspired a generation of dodgy 1970s  ventriloquist acts, but there don’t seem to be too many around these days. I suspect it will take at least a couple of generations to flush Orville, Cuddles and Nookie out of our systems and look back with any kind of genuine nostalgia to the dapper days of Lord Charles.

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