Norman Vaughan (comedian)

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Norman Vaughan
Born Norman Edward Vaughan
(1923-04-10)10 April 1923
Liverpool, Lancashire
Died 17 May 2002(2002-05-17) (aged 79)
London, England
Occupation Comedian

Norman Vaughan (10 April 1923[1] – 17 May 2002[2]) was an English comedian who led a long and successful career in the television and theatre, appearing occasionally in the cinema.

Early life[edit]

Vaughan was born in Liverpool and began a stage career at the age of 14 with a boys' theatrical troupe - the Eton Boys Choir, singing 'D'ye Ken John Peel'. A few years later, he formed a dance trio called 'The Dancing Aces' and toured with it until he was called up to the join the Army in 1945. He served as a sergeant in Italy and the Middle East. During his military service he appeared in Army shows with Spike Milligan and Harry Secombe, who were later to form the Goons. In 1951, he appeared with Secombe again, when they performed on the same bill in variety.

After two years of doing variety shows in Australia, Vaughan returned to Britain to appear in a summer season of shows called 'Twinkle'. By the end of the decade he was the compere of a show starring Cliff Richard.

Television career[edit]

Vaughan was by now making a name for himself as an entertainer and his big break came when he stepped into Bruce Forsyth's shoes to host Sunday Night at the London Palladium. At this time, the show was broadcast live and was a national institution, often with 20 million regular viewers. Vaughan overcame his first night nerves to become an instant star, becoming well known for his catch-phrases 'swinging!' and 'dodgy!', which were accompanied by thumbs-up or thumbs-down gestures. He was a popular host for the long-running television programme (1962–1965). He also hosted The Golden Shot (during 1972 and 1973), taking over from Bob Monkhouse. When he finished with the programme he handed over his job to the comedian Charlie Williams, who failed to make the required impact, after which Monkhouse returned once more to the show. Vaughan also appeared in a memorable 1960s TV advertising campaign for Cadbury's Roses chocolates which included the slogan 'Roses Grow On You'.

On television, he was also a regular guest on variety and quiz shows, including Celebrity Squares, Give Us a Clue and Larry Grayson's Generation Game, as well as being compere of the BBC's Pebble Mill Showcase.

Theatre career[edit]

Vaughan had already launched a successful career as an actor. His stage appearances include In Order of Appearance at the Chichester Festival Theatre, a tour of Calamity Jane with Barbara Windsor and the farces A Bedful of Foreigners and No Sex Please, We're British. He also appeared in a number of pantomimes.

Later years[edit]

Vaughan devised the television game show Bullseye (1981), which was presented by Jim Bowen. He made few television or film appearances after 1974 other than appearing as a seaside entertainer in the sex comedy Come Play with Me (1977), plus playing himself in Hear My Song (1991) and featuring in a TV tribute to Sir Harry Secombe (2001). He died, aged 79, in the Royal London Hospital in East London, on 17 May 2002, from injuries sustained in a road accident on 17 April, at Waterloo Bridge.

Vaughan was married to Bernice, a former dancer, and they had one son, David.

There is a commemorative plaque for him at Golders Green Crematorium in North London.

Selected filmography[edit]


  • Thumb up – "Swinging"; thumb down – "Dodgy".[3]


  1. ^ GRO Register of Births: JUN 1923 8b 761 W. DERBY - Norman E. Vaughan
  2. ^ GRO Register of Deaths: OCT 2002 B35 246 TOWER HAMLETS - Norman Edward Vaughan, DoB = 10 Apr 1923, aged 79
  3. ^ Eric Partridge, Paul Beale (Editors), A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English. Taylor & Francis, November 2002. ISBN 978-0-415-29189-7; p. 322

External links[edit]