Growing up when I did we listened to the radio all the time, we didn’t have a TV but I remember thinking why would we need one when we had everything on the radio. I think my writing was partially fashioned by listening to so many different voices in different contexts, and the way pictures were painted in the imagination with words. We listened to lots of comedy and entertainment shows, and one of our favourites was ‘Educating Archie’.
Explaining how this programme worked and why it was so popular to my children is impossible. Archie was in fact a puppet and his voice was produced by a very clever ventriloquist, Peter Brough. Why did he need to be a ventriloquist with a dummy when he was never to be seen, only to be heard on the radio? He could be in the story and just put on the Archie voice without any dummy. It’s actually impossible toe explain to anyone – except to say ‘you had to be there!’
There have been so many ventriloquists on TV, and I’ve never particularly watched them, they don’t seem funny to me, and in fact – especially since there have been so many movies about creepy puppets, they often seem slightly sinister. Archie Andrews was different, somehow; only hearing him, he was just a funny character who got into all sorts of scrapes as he was tutored by various actors and comedians who were or became famous, including Tony Hancock, Dick Emery, Max Bygraves, Harry Secombe, Benny Hill, Beryl Reid and Julie Andrews.
I’d not thought about Archie for years until I came across Jolly Jim. I’ve written about a band – well, a fantastic musical duo I follow called The Peas. They are amazing musicians and singers, and really hilarious too – seeing them live is just a brilliant experience. Obviously, in the present situation they haven’t been able to gig, however, luckily for us, their fans, they do weekly on-line sets on Facebook, so in fact I am seeing them more than I ever have before.
This what they say about themselves on their website:
The Peas are the masters at taking your guilty pop pleasures from the 80s and 90s and giving them a classy reworking. From Rick Astley to The Spice Girls they have a set list that could make some people shudder but with a change of chords and a bluegrassy rock n rolling acoustic disco beat, the songs feel like new. Musically intelligent, high tempo, whirling energy, they appeal to the watchers as well as the dancers. Acoustic Guitar, Double bass, Foot Drums, Kazoos, beatboxing, mouth trumpets, super sweet harmonies and only two people. You will come away not too sure what you have witnessed but feeling all the better for it. http://www.thepeasduo.com/
You can find them on Twitter and I recommend you catch up with their videos on YouTube
The Peas Facebook show is obliviously about the music, but there are competitions, and as there’s a live comment feed there’s a lot of interaction with us, the invisible audience. Fun and humour is as much part of a Peas gig as the music, enjoying yourself is inevitable! A few weeks ago there was a guest, Jolly Jim who you might guess from my first paragraphs is a puppet, although it seems rather rude to call him such.
He has, over the last few weeks had his own spot and has performed such classics as Nessun Dorma (yes, it was amazing, and with a rockabilly feel) and last night it was Garcelona, in tribute to Reddy Nercury and Onserrat Ca’aille. You can find these moving tributes on their Facebook page.
Here, I hope is my favourite so far,The Phantom of the Ocera: