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Peter Brough

Peter Brough, born on February 26th. 1916 in Shepherd’s Bush, London was the ventriloquist behind the voice of Archie Andrews. His first public concert was given at the age of ten. During the war Brough appeared in shows for troops and afterwards he experimented with all sorts of dummies before hitting on one that complemented his own personality in Archie Andrews. The dummy's head alone cost £250, a fortune at that time, his tailoring came from Savile Row and - when clothes were still rationed - Archie was allowed an annual allowance of 50 clothes coupons for his part in boosting national morale.


The royal family were fans of Educating Archie and Brough performed privately for King George VI and his young daughters. After the performance they asked him to take Archie's head off so that they could see the mechanism. The King was quoted later as saying: "That's the only fellow I've ever beheaded in my reign." The BBC radio programme Educating Archie made Brough a household name, drawing in an audience of more than 15m over three nights and attracting stars like Tony Hancock, Max Bygraves, Harry Secombe, Bruce Forsyth, Hattie Jacques and Dick Emery to make appearances.

Julie Andrews featured regularly as Archie's girlfriend and Beryl Reid perfected her catty persona as his friend Monica. 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. Like his American predecessor, Edgar Bergen's Charlie McCarthy, Archie was always a stronger character than his manipulator, indeed part of his charm was the appeal of the stroppy dummy to the anarchic child in everyone. By contrast Brough himself was smooth and dapper, unremarkable except for the fact that his two upper front teeth were half filed away to help him throw his voice.


The radio appeal of Educating Archie was such that a whole industry - including mugs, ties, soap, confectionary, and scarves - was built around Archie Andrews. But the strangest point about the whole phenomenon was that when Brough tried it on television in 1956 it did not take off to nearly the same extent. By the 1960s the appeal of Archie on radio had also run its course and Brough went back to running the family clothing business, which he had first entered when he was 16. Brough married twice. His second wife, Elizabeth Chantler, died in 1994. A son and a daughter survived him. Peter Brough died on June 3rd. 1999 aged 83.

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