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26 February 1916
Shepherd's Bush, London, UK
|Died||3 June 1999
Born in Shepherd's Bush, London, Brough began his radio career in 1944 in ventriloquism but in 1950 he debuted Archie, a mischievous child who domineered his mentor. Archie's chief characteristics were his Savile Row-tailored blazers and manic eyes. Archie followed in the tradition of the American ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and his dummy Charlie McCarthy.
His radio series based around the character - Educating Archie - featured in support the likes of Dick Emery, Freddie Sales, Benny Hill, Tony Hancock, Hattie Jacques, Bruce Forsyth, Harry Secombe, Beryl Reid and even a young Julie Andrews as the girlfriend of Archie; Eric Sykes was one of the series' main writers in the early 1950s. The show often averaged 15 million listeners, and a fan club had 250,000 members.
Because of the success of his radio show, Brough made his debut on television in 1956 in the BBC sitcom Here's Archie which co-starred Irene Handl and Ronald Chesney. The show was written by the latter and Ronald Wolfe, who would later team up on British sitcoms The Rag Trade and On the Buses.
Two years later, Brough was on ITV in Educating Archie, utilising the same team as before, although Marty Feldman took some of the writing credit as well. The TV appearances exposed his limitations as a ventriloquist, as his lips were frequently seen to move. In later years a critic remarked, "Ventriloquism on the radio - I could have done that."
By 1961, Brough decided to retire Archie following the death of his father, also a ventriloquist, and he then took over the family's textile and menswear business. His TV appearances were sporadic from then on. He died in 1999.
Brough married twice: first in 1940 to Peggy Franklin (one son, one daughter; marriage dissolved), second to Elizabeth Chantler (died 1994; one son, one daughter).