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Keith Harris

Keith Shenton Harris born on 21st. September 1947 was an English ventriloquist, best known for his television show The Keith Harris Show (1982–86), with his puppets Orville the Duck and Cuddles the Monkey. He had a UK Top 10 hit single in 1982 with "Orville's Song" which reached number 4 in the charts. As a teenager, he created his own ventriloquism characters which he performed at holiday resorts in the summer season, attracting the attention of television producers. He debuted on screen in 1965 and became a popular act guest starring on various shows; he had his first solo series Cuddles and Company in the 1970s but got his big break in 1982 with The Keith Harris Show.

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Harris' best-known creation, Orville the duck, came about after he saw some green fur lying around backstage at a performance of The Black and White Minstrel Show in Bristol. Orvill was a huge, gormless, falsetto-voiced green duckling sporting a nappy fastened by a giant safety pin. The Keith Harris Show ran on Saturday evenings on BBC1 from 1982 to 1986. Harris appeared in several Royal Variety Performances and also performed privately for the Royal Family. At the request of Diana, Princess of Wales he was booked as an act for the birthdays of Princes William and Harry at each of their respective third birthdays at Highgrove and Kensington Palace.

Alongside his continued pantomime performances, from the late 1990s Harris and Orville also enjoyed what The Stage described as a "long Indian summer" as they re-emerged on television in a new "era of knowing post-modern irony. In 2002, he was the subject of a Louis Theroux documentary When Louis Met... Keith Harris. He and Orville won the Channel 5 reality TV show The Farm in 2005, the same year that he featured in Peter Kay and Tony Christie's music video to "(Is This the Way to) Amarillo". However, the end of Harris's television show coincided with a period when television was "turning away from variety acts". 

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He had his first daughter, Skye, in 1986 with his second wife of nine years, singer Jacqui Scott, a winner of a BBC talent show in 1979 who entered the 1980 A Song For Europe contest with her own composition. In 2013 Harris had his spleen removed and chemotherapy after a cancer diagnosis. He subsequently returned to work. The cancer returned in 2014 and he died on 28 April 2015, at the age of 67 at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

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