(born June 1900 - died November 1982)
Having left school at sixteen, diminutive, hyperactive Arthur Askey worked in an office, before joining a concert party in 1924, but although he began broadcasting in 1930 in such series as ‘Music Hall’ and made his film debut with ‘Calling All Stars’ in 1937, it was not until 1938’s pioneering radio comedy series ‘Band Waggon’ that he made his name in a fast-talking partnership with Richard Murdoch. The series started disastrously and was cancelled after three shows, but the pair were obliged to carry on until a replacement was found. Freed from responsibility, they quickly developed an idiosyncratic and anarchic line of backchat that caught on with the listeners in the nick of time.
Askey was one of the first comedians to know the worth of a catch phrase, and among his best-known were ‘Hello, playmates’, ‘Before your very eyes’ and ‘I thank yew’. He also recorded numerous nonsense songs, notably ‘The Bee Song’, ‘The Seagull Song’ and ‘The Worm’. His partnership with Murdoch ended with the war, apart from regular broadcast reunions, but he had other radio successes, including ‘Askey Galore’, which started in 1957 and co-starred his daughter Anthea and magician David Nixon, and from 1958 was a regular on the long-running ad-libbed panel show, ‘Does The Team Think’.
On television he fronted a variety show, ‘Before Your Very Eyes’, and towards the end of his life was a panellist on the talent show, ‘New Faces’. His final film appearance was in 1978’s ‘Rosie Dixon, Night Nurse’.