WRIGHT THINKING: The dark side of puppets

Rod Hull and Emu
Rod Hull and Emu

I love those laugh out loud comedy moments when something pops up on your computer screen and sets you off – sometimes deliberately, sometimes not.

This splendid photo is what did it for me – and here’s why.

Later this year, proving my rising thespian status, I’m speaking at a conference for the theatre industry.

I’ll be talking about the business and publicity side, and the splendid entertainer Bernie Clifton will be telling great tales of his long career in theatre and television.

This is the only photo accompanying the mailshot for the event with the headline proclaiming that the guest speakers are Bernie and yours truly.

It’s the only picture on show, so my future career as a sidekick comedy ostrich looks assured.

I don’t know what it is about me and fine puppets and mascot creatures, but I seem to keep bumping into them.

It’s often the caption alongside the picture which does the trick. I have one splendid example where I’m giving a cuddle to Hangus, the Pools mascot, and the caption writer had taken the trouble to point but that I was standing on the right and the famous monkey was on the left.

Another memorable moment came back in my BBC Radio days when I was interviewing Keith Harris and his famous duck Orville.

They were driving up the motorway en route to appearing at Billingham Forum Theatre and I did the interview courtesy of the hands-free phone in their car.

I had a very funny few minutes with the duck and his splendid squeaky voice and, if I remember correctly, congratulations were in order as he had just had a big musical hit with the unforgettable I Wish I Could Fly.

After being moved close to tears at the sound of the little green chap who thought he would never make it up to the sky, I asked if he could hand me over to his best pal Keith, who, on the hit record, was the one who assured him that his dream would come true.

They don’t write them like that anymore.

Mr Harris and I had a splendid chat and I ended with a spin of the big hit.

While that was on, I thanked him off air, and he said that he’d laughed his head off at a wicked thought that came into his head.

When I’d asked Orville to hand me over, he thought of replying in the duck voice, “I can’t Alan, he’s gone and I’m driving. “

I can’t end without recalling a memory of Roger de Courcey and his wonderful partner Nookie Bear.

I don’t know if you’ve ever seen those two do their after dinner act, but it’s hilarious.

Normally intelligent people, including me, have been reduced to rolling on the floor with their sides aching with laughter.

A while back, Roger, Nookie and myself were due to speak at a dinner near Birmingham.

By coincidence, we arrived at the car park at the same time and headed into reception, with Rog holding the bear under his arm.

When we checked in, the chap at the desk gave me one key and presented two to Roger.

“Who’s the other one for?” asked Roger.

“Well”, came the answer, “ there’s one for you and one for … I don’t believe I did that.”

There can be no finer compliment to a ventriloquist that someone thinks his creation is so life-like that he needs his own key for the room. I’ll let you know how it goes with Bernie’s ostrich.