Max Bygraves, who has died aged 89 after suffering from Alzheimer's disease, was an all-round entertainer: a mischievously smiling raconteur, a full-throated and sentimental singer, a television host and a reluctant gameshow compere (his two years with Family Fortunes in the mid-1980s convinced him it was not his medium).
He always kept the persona of a cheerful cockney stevedore, smart-alecky but good-natured, with a reassuringly imposing presence and the sort of innocent bawdiness that would not upset anyone. The persona was entirely suited to the voice suggesting syrup-soaked gravel, the expansive arm gestures and the chummily unemphatic manner that absolved jokes that in another mouth might have been offensive.
He was born Walter William Bygraves into a large family in Rotherhithe, south-east London, to Henry Bygraves, a prizefighter who became a docker, and his wife, Lilian. The