Peter Brough and the Original Archie Andrews

Here’s a major British entertainment phenomenon that never seemed to cross the puddle, but is well worth knowing about. Ventriloquist Peter Brough (1916-1999) was a major star of music hall/variety, radio and television. His wooden partner was Archie Andrews. (Whether the name of the character inspired the name of the comic book character, IDK. It’s possible; Archie creator Bob Montana’s parents were in vaudeville).

Brough was a second generation vent, although his dad Arthur retired from the halls around the time his son was born, dropping it for steady work in the textile business. Peter was born in Shepherd’s Bush, London and had emerged as a professional ventriloquist (no doubt with tips and tutorials from his dad) by the mid ’30s. He made his screen debut in Cavalcade of Variety (1940) and began appearing on radio regularly in 1944. From 1950 through 1960 his radio sitcom Educating Archie was a major British pop culture institution. Both Benny Hill and Julie Andrews (no relation to the dummy, haha) had regular roles on the show early in their careers. There was also a spin-off called Archie’s the Boy which ran during the 1954-55 season. From 1958 to 1959, there was an Educating Archie TV series, co-written by Marty Feldman.

Brough retired from the biz for the most part in 1961 upon Arthur’s death, assuming the reins of the family business interests, although he and Archie did pop out to perform from time to time. Valentine Vox cites Brough as an influence.

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To learn more about the variety arts, including music hall, radio and television variety, please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous