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Ray Alan obituary

24 May 2010 10:52 AM, PDT | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

Popular television ventriloquist paired with the aristocratic puppet Lord Charles

Popular television ventriloquist paired with the aristocratic puppet Lord Charles

In his heyday, Ray Alan, who has died aged 79, was described by some as the world's greatest ventriloquist, and his dummy was the boozy Lord Charles. The hoity-toity aristocrat with his put-down catchphrases, such as "Blurry fool!" and "You silly arse!", proved to be a long-lived inspiration at a time when so many other ventriloquists and their dummies were going out of business.

Lord Charles enabled the British and American publics to enjoy on television a send-up of the British aristocracy. The fact that his lordship's speech was drunken and slurred enabled the ventriloquist to speak with a minimum of mouth movement, even when under the scrutiny of television cameras. For those less ingenious than Alan, the fact that they were "throwing" their own voices into a dummy was all too visible. »

- Dennis Barker

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