Keith Harris


Keith Harris

Keith Harris (born 21 September 1947 in Lyndhurst, Hampshire) is an English ventriloquist who is known for his television show (which ran from 1982 till 1990), audio recordings, and club appearances with his puppets Orville the Duck and Cuddles the Monkey.

Early life and career

Harris changed from a boy to a man in Chester & North Baddesley Southampton, and started creating ventriloquism characters as a teenager. He then appeared in summer seasons at holiday resorts before appearing on television in "Let's Laugh". He then became a popular act on television variety shows, was the host of the "Black and White Minstrel Show", and was given his own show called "Cuddles and Company".

Later career

His TV show was later axed, and he came close to bankruptcy in the years that followed. However, he remains a minor legend in the UK. In recent years, he has appeared as a guest star in a number of TV shows, including "Harry Hill", "Never Mind the Buzzcocks", "Trisha", "Banzai", and "The Weakest Link". This, combined with work entertaining in the clubs, in pantomime, and at holiday camps around the country, as well as starring in a commercial for Surf soap powder, enabled him to became solvent again. In 2002, Harris was the subject of a Louis Theroux documentary called "When Louis met... Keith Harris". Harris later said that both had become friends during the course of filming, although they lost contact when Theroux went back to the US for his next projects. [ [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4161/is_20050710/ai_n14721373 Sunday Mirror: MY PAP PICS KEITH HARRIS: Orvilles fed up of having my hand up his] ]

Harris made a short appearance on the sketch comedy series "Little Britain" as himself, with Orville, as part of a group of entertainers waiting to meet the royal family. In the sketch, the entertainers are interrupted by a man with a sock puppet who claims that he is Keith Harris and his sock is Orville. The real Harris is annoyed at this, and the fake Harris, after a few attempts at claiming to be other people, is thrown out. The sketch did not make the TV version of the show, but is included in the deleted scenes portion of the DVD.

Harris also recently starred in a children's programme called 'The Slammer', set in a prison on CBBC, where contestants perform to an audience of children.In 2005, Harris was among the all-star line up in Peter Kay and Tony Christie's music video, "Is This the Way to Amarillo". Fellow children's entertainer Geoffrey Hayes, who also had financial troubles after his own show failed to be re-commissioned, also appeared in the video.

Also in 2005, he and Orville won the Five reality TV show "The Farm". On January 13 2007, he made a short cameo appearance with Orville on "Al Murray's Happy Hour" on ITV1. He also does an annual Pantomime; in 2006, this was "Aladdin"; in 2007, the group performed "Cinderella".And this year in Dick Whittington.

In February 2007, he refused to appear on the second series of "Extras", claiming that writer Ricky Gervais "wanted me to be a racist bigot" and describing the script as "pure filth." [http://www.contactmusic.com/news.nsf/article/ventriloquist%20shocked%20by%20rickys%20racist%20script_1007228] When asked about Harris' refusal on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, Gervais claimed that Harris simply "didn't get it". [Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, 8 September 2006] Keith Chegwin, who assumed the role offered to Harris, said "the people who didn't get it probably think Johnny Depp really is a pirate." [http://icliverpool.icnetwork.co.uk/0100news/0100regionalnews/tm_objectid=17753518&method=full&siteid=50061&headline=cheggers--i-m-not-really-that-foul-mouthed-bigot-name_page.html]

Personal life

Harris now lives in Poulton-le-Fylde near Blackpool with his fourth wife, Sarah, and his two youngest children, Shenton and Kitty. He was previously married to singer Jacqui Scott, a winner of a BBC talent show in 1979 who entered the 1980 A Song For Europe contest with her own composition. They had one child. Harris is a fan of Chester City Football Club, and entertains fans at the Chester City social club. He drives a Mercedes car with the registration "ORV 1L".

Trivia

*In Purley, London, there is a carpet showroom named "Keith Harris Carpets". Some believe that this is a business owned by Harris, but this is not the case.
*There is a popular fanvid on Youtube called "Keith Cottonbud and Orville". It spoofs "Orville's Song"

References


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