Ray Alan

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Ray Alan (18 September 1930 – 24 May 2010) was an English ventriloquist and television entertainer from the 1950s until the 1980s. He was associated primarily with the dummy Lord Charles and later also with the puppets Tich and Quackers. Lord Charles was the first ventriloquist's dummy, to have his own personal microphone, which was first fitted by sound professional[ clarification needed ] Douglas Oakley[ who? ] whilst working with Lord Charles at Thames TV, and became a regular feature thereafter.[ citation needed ]



Born in Greenwich, London, Alan was educated at Morden Terrace School, Lewisham. [1] Alan was introduced to the world of entertainment at a young age, entering a talent contest at the age of five at his local Gaumont cinema.

Greenwich town in south-east London, England

Greenwich is an area of South East London, England, located 5.5 miles (8.9 km) east-southeast of Charing Cross. It is located within the Royal Borough of Greenwich, to which it lends its name.

Lewisham area in South East London

Lewisham is an area of south east London, England, 5.9 miles (9.5 km) south of Charing Cross. The area is identified in the London Plan as one of 35 major centres in Greater London. Lewisham had a population of 60,573 in 2011.


Aged 13 he became a call-boy at the Lewisham Hippodrome Theatre, where he started to do magic sets on stage between acts. He then started to entertain private functions, introducing ventriloquism into his act, along with playing the ukulele.

Call boy is the job title of a stagehand in the theatre. They are hired by either the director, producer or stage crew chief. They report directly to the crew chief, are usually paid by the hour, and will sometimes rotate between several groups from one performance to the next.

Ukulele member of the guitar family

The ukulele or ukelele is a member of the guitar family of instruments. It generally employs four nylon or gut strings or four courses of strings. Some strings may be paired in courses, giving the instrument a total of five, six, or eight strings.

Alan toured in cabaret all over the world and performed once with Laurel and Hardy in 1954. [2] Laurel had provided inspiration for the look of Alan's most famous creation, Lord Charles, [2] who first appeared at a charity show in Wormwood Scrubs Prison, London. [1]

Cabaret venue for a mixed variety show of music & theatrical revue

Cabaret is a form of theatrical entertainment featuring music, song, dance, recitation, or drama. It is mainly distinguished by the performance venue, which might be a pub, a casino, a restaurant, or a nightclub with a stage for performances. The audience, often dining or drinking, does not typically dance but usually sits at tables. Performances are usually introduced by a master of ceremonies or MC. The entertainment, as done by an ensemble of actors and according to its European origins, is often oriented towards adult audiences and of a clearly underground nature. In the United States striptease, burlesque, drag shows, or a solo vocalist with a pianist, as well as the venues which offer this entertainment, are often advertised as cabarets.

Laurel and Hardy British & American comedy duo

Laurel and Hardy were a comedy duo act during the early Classical Hollywood era of American cinema. The team was composed of Englishman Stan Laurel (1890–1965) and American Oliver Hardy (1892–1957). They became well known during the late 1920s to the mid-1940s for their slapstick comedy, with Laurel playing the clumsy and childlike friend of the pompous bully Hardy. The duo's signature tune is known variously as "The Cuckoo Song", "Ku-Ku", or "The Dance of the Cuckoos". It was played over the opening credits of their films and has become as emblematic of the duo as their bowler hats.

Alan made his television debut with Lord Charles on the BBC programme The Good Old Days in the 1960s [3] and the pair regularly re-appeared on the programme. In the 1960s he also appeared on a children's programme Tich and Quackers with Tich, a small boy, and his pet duck Quackers. He also created the puppet character Ali Cat for the HTV series Magic Circle (1977). He was also the presenter for two years of the BBC show Ice Show. In 1985 he was a special guest for Bob Hope's birthday show at London's Lyric Theatre. In 1986 he presented a show on Channel 4 on ventriloquism, called A Gottle of Geer.

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters are at Broadcasting House in Westminster, London, and it is the world's oldest national broadcasting organisation and the largest broadcaster in the world by number of employees. It employs over 20,950 staff in total, 16,672 of whom are in public sector broadcasting. The total number of staff is 35,402 when part-time, flexible, and fixed-contract staff are included.

ITV Wales & West independent television franchise area

ITV Wales and West, previously known as Harlech Television (HTV), refers to the Independent Television franchise area until 31 December 2013, licensed to a broadcaster by the regulator Ofcom.

Bob Hope American comedian, actor, singer and dancer

Leslie Townes Hope, KBE, KC*SG, KSS, known professionally as Bob Hope, was an English-American stand-up comedian, vaudevillian, actor, singer, dancer, athlete, and author. With a career that spanned nearly 80 years, Hope appeared in more than 70 short and feature films, with 54 feature films with Hope as star, including a series of seven "Road" musical comedy movies with Bing Crosby as Hope's top-billed partner.

He also wrote for Tony Hancock, Dave Allen and for the shows Morecambe and Wise , The Two Ronnies and Bootsie and Snudge , usually under the name Ray Whyberd.

Tony Hancock English comedy actor

Anthony John Hancock was an English comedian and actor.

Dave Allen (comedian) Irish comedian and satirist

David Tynan O'Mahony, better known as Dave Allen, was an Irish observational comedian and satirist.

Morecambe and Wise

Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise, known as Morecambe and Wise, were an iconic English comic double act, working in variety, radio, film and most successfully in television. Their partnership lasted from 1941 until Morecambe's death in 1984. The show was a significant part of British popular culture, and they have been described as "the most illustrious, and the best-loved, double-act that Britain has ever produced".

Later life

Alan continued to perform into his seventies, doing tours and also undertaking conference and corporate events. In 1998/1999 he entertained guests on the QE2 . He also wrote for many shows, including a documentary entitled A Gottle of Geer for Channel 4, and the ITV show And There's More in 1985 which starred Jimmy Cricket.

Alan wrote four novels: Death and Deception in 2007 and A Game of Murder in 2008 (both published by Robert Hale), A Fear of Vengeance (2010, published by F. A. Thorpe) and Retribution (2011, published posthumously by Robert Hale Ltd).

He took a break from stage work due to ill health but he did not rule out a return, if his health had permitted. His last stage appearance was in November 2008 when he performed at a special charity concert in Bridlington organised by his friend Sir Greg Knight who is MP for the town. At the end of his performance he received a standing ovation.


Alan died aged 79 on the morning of 24 May 2010. It is thought he stopped breathing overnight after complaining of feeling unwell at his home in Reigate, Surrey. His agent Peter Prichard said: "He passed away very suddenly." [4]

Media appearances


Alan was also the presenter of the panel game Where in the World and of the children's quiz show It's Your Word. [3] He also hosted Cartoon Carnival and made many appearances on later game shows such as Celebrity Squares , Give Us A Clue , Family Fortunes , 3-2-1 , Bullseye and The Bob Monkhouse Show . Alan also appeared on The Des O'Connor Show and on Blue Peter .


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  1. 1 2 Who's Who on Television (1982), ITV Books, Michael Joseph Ltd, p.6, ISBN   0-900727-96-9
  2. 1 2 Lewis, Katy (9 October 2006). "Read his lips! There's no place like "A" home!". Entertainment. BBC Beds, Herts and Bucks. Retrieved 11 October 2007.
  3. 1 2 3 Barker, Dennis (24 May 2010). "Ray Alan obituary". The Guardian. ISSN   0261-3077 . Retrieved 18 October 2019.
  4. "Ventriloquist Ray Alan dies at 79". BBC News.
  5. "Obituary: Ray Alan". The Scotsman. Retrieved 18 October 2019.
  6. "Browse newsgroup alt.binaries.sounds.radio.bbc.highspeed". binsearch.info.