Wednesday 20 November 2019

Archie the dummy making comeback

Ventriloquist's dummy Archie Andrews, pictured here with Peter Brough in May 1957, is making a comeback
Ventriloquist's dummy Archie Andrews, pictured here with Peter Brough in May 1957, is making a comeback

When he last graced television screens, Archie Andrews was just a schoolboy - now a pensioner, one of Britain's most famous ventriloquist's dummies is launching a comeback.

In his heyday the star of Educating Archie, who along with Peter Brough entertained radio listeners throughout the 1950s, appeared alongside the likes of Tony Hancock, Bruce Forsyth and Max Bygraves.

Despite the bizarre concept of a radio ventriloquist act, he had a 250,000-strong fan club and millions of listeners. His disappearance on a train journey in 1951 made national headlines.

But after a brief flirtation with television, Brough retired from showbusiness in 1962.

Apart from occasional one-night shows, Archie remained in a suitcase and out of the public eye.

Now after a successful show at Cromer Pier, Norfolk, last summer, his new owner - Brough having died in 1999 - hopes to entertain a fresh generation of fans.

After buying the 4ft wooden doll for £34,000 in 2005, Colin Burnett-Dick has made it his mission to bring Archie back to the stage with an updated show.

A new production will take place at Eastbourne's Under Ground Theatre on October 27 and 28 and if it proves popular there are hopes the show will tour the UK.

Describing the show, Mr Burnett-Dick said: "Archie will take the audience back to 1954 with a little help from his friends."

It is a move welcomed by another of the country's favourite ventriloquist, Keith Harris, famous for his act with puppet Orville, who said: "As a boy I listened to Educating Archie on the radio and I didn't know Peter was a vent and Archie was a dummy."

PA Media

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