Keith Harris: ‘Great showman – we salute you’

Jimmy Cricket appeared on Keith Harris’s holiday laughter show (with Orville and Cuddles) at the Royal Opera House in the summer of 1982

Jimmy Cricket has been paying tribute in his latest newspaper column to ventriloquist Keith Harris, who died last month.

Keith, who, with his puppet duck Orville, became a regular feature of Saturday night TV in the 1980s, was 67.

He entertained generations of children with his sidekick Orville, a bright green duck who wore a nappy and spoke in a high-pitched voice but couldn’t fly. He also gave life to the popular puppet Cuddles the monkey, whose catchphrase was ‘I hate that duck!’

In addition to fronting The Keith Harris Show on BBC One, he (and Orville) gave private performances at birthday parties for Prince William and his brother Harry, at the request of Diana, Princess of Wales.

His 1982 single, Orville’s Song, was a top five hit, selling more than 400,000 copies.

In his May column for the Preston-based Lancashire Evening News, Jimmy says: “Most ventriloquists that are successful discover one dummy that tickles people’s funny bone, but Keith was blessed with two.

“In 1983, holidaymakers were still visiting our summer resorts en masse and Keith’s show was a sellout from start to finish.

“Keith Harris – you weren’t just a superb ventriloquist, you were a great showman and producer.

“We salute you.”

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