On the face of it, the one radio show of 1950 least likely to succeed was one which was broadcast for the first time on 6th. June and starred - a ventriloquist! It just seemed very much against the odds that an act which depended to such a degree upon the audience watching a dummy's lips move when a ventriloquist's did not, should succeed on radio. The manic-eyed Archie Andrews, elegantly clad in a broad-striped blazer, always haughtily called his mentor "Brough," as if he were some menial functionary in a stately home.
Peter Brough had made guest appearances on shows such as Navy Mixture in the later stages of the War with some success, but it was not until 1950 that he was given his own radio show called Educating Archie. The programme was scheduled in the slot formerly filled by the phenomenally successful "Take It From Here" and by the end of the initial twelve-week run, Educating Archie was holding a regular audience of twelve million listeners. The show then ran on for thirty weeks without a break, with Robert Moreton as Archie's tutor, Max Bygraves as an odd-job man and Hattie Jacques as Agatha Dinglebody and various supporting roles. A young girl soprano, only thirteen, was the resident singer. Her name was Julie Andrews.
Educating Archie is another case of a radio show which took over the country in a way no radio show could do now. Kiddies licked Archie Andrews lollipops and washed themselves with Archie Andrews soap; there were Archie Andrews comics and annuals, and the dummy's face appeared everywhere.
After its first break, the show returned with a new tutor: a comedian who had been popular with listeners to Variety Bandbox - one Tony Hancock. Then Max Bygraves (who had had the show's best catch-phrases, "That's a good idea - son!" and "I've arrived, and to prove it, I'm here!") left, and Alfred Marks took over. By the end of the final series in 1959, Bruce Forsyth and Sid James had also taken their turns as Archie's tutor.
Peter Madden, Hattie Jacques and Robert Moreton, the first of Archie's tutors, stand at one microphone, with Peter Brough, and the dummy, Archie, at the other.
When he left, Gilbert Harding briefly took his place. Beryl Reid, (who conceived the characters Monica, the ghastly schoolgirl, and Marlene, the Pride of the Midlands, who was celebrated for her enormous earrings, Brummie accent and her catchphrase "Good evening, each!"). Harry Secombe appeared in the third series. Dick Emery appeared as Grimble ("I hate yew!"). During musical interludes, Ronald Chesney played on his harmonica.
Brough and Archie appeared in a series called 'Archie's the Boy'in 1954 which attempted to portray Archie as a teenager and again featured Beryl Reid, this time with Graham Stark as Nigel Bowser-Smythe and Benny Hill. Shirley Eaton provided the glamour and The Coronets sang to Harry Rabinowitz and The Revue Orchestra. The series was not as popular as Educating Archie which returned to its original format for future series.
The series transferred to television in 1958.
Educating Archie was not the first ventriloquism act to get its own BBC Radio show as Saveen and Daisy May had beaten them to it by just a few weeks.
Archie's Big Comeback
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