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|'Educating Archie' (1958-59)
Another transfer from radio to television, it starred Archie Andrews with ventriloquist Peter Brough. 27 half hour episodes were made for ITV with Irene Handl as the housekeeper Mrs. Twissle, and Dick Emery as the opportunist Mr. Monty. The manic-eyed Archie, elegantly clad in a broad-striped blazer, always haughtily called his mentor "Brough," as if he were some menial functionary in a stately home.The scripts were by Marty Feldman and Ronald Chesney, who helped create a new and less dummy-like appearance for Archie. Cunning special effects were used to allow Archie to be seen chatting away without the previously vital support of Brough. (Also 'Here's Archie' BBC 1956)
At his peak on the radio, Peter Brough pulled in 15m listeners and had a fan club of 250,000 children. His long-running radio show was host to many up-and-coming stars. For a time, regular bit parts were played by Tony Hancock. Other helpers included Max Bygraves, Harry Secombe, Benny Hill, Ken Platt, Beryl Reid and the 14-year-old Julie Andrews. The radio show was the most popular series of 1952, pulling in a phenomenal number of listeners. A 1000 pound reward was offered for Archie's return in 1951 when he had been accidentally left on a train. The radio show ran into the early 1960s and returned to radio for a 13-week series in 1966. Peter Brough officially retired from showbusiness in the 1960s and went on to run a textile business, sadly passing away in 1999.
Archie went missing several times in his long career. The first time, in 1947, he was in Peter Brough's car when it was stolen from Lower Regent Street, London. Two days later Archie was found in a garden at Paddington. On another occasion, he was left in the rack of a railway carriage at Chatham, but a railway porter sent him back by taxi in time for his show. He went missing again in 1951 when Brough, with Archie in his suitcase, was travelling to Leeds to compere the televised Northern Music Hall at the Theatre Royal, Leeds. While Brough was dining in the dining car, the carriage in which he had been sitting was taken off the train and went on to Bradford. A check later failed to find Archie and people who had heard of the disappearance waited outside the theatre for news. Inside Brough went through a revised script without his protege. A reward was offered and he was eventually returned. There has only ever been one Archie, and the mould, from which he was made in 1942, was destroyed in the Blitz.
50's Palitoy Archie Andrews ventriloquist doll and box
Small Archie Andrews head with moving eyes and mouth (toy made by Palitoy in the early 1950s)
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