Stanley Unwin (comedian)
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7 June 1911|
Pretoria, South Africa
|Died||12 January 2002
Danetre Hospital, Daventry, Northamptonshire, England
|Resting place||Long Buckby, Northamptonshire, England|
|Occupation||Comic actor, writer|
|Spouse(s)||Frances Anne (1916–1993) m. 26 December 1937|
Marion (b. 1939)
Lois (b. 1940)
John (b. 1944)
|Parents||Ivan Oswald Unwin (d. 1914)
Jessie Elizabeth, née Brand (d. 1967)
Stanley Unwin (7 June 1911 Pretoria, South Africa – 12 January 2002 Danetre Hospital, Daventry, Northamptonshire, England), sometimes billed as Professor Stanley Unwin, was a British comedian and comic writer, and the inventor of his own language, "Unwinese", referred to in the film Carry On Regardless as "gobbledegook".
Unwinese was a mangled form of English in which many of the words were corrupted in playful and humorous ways, as in its description of Elvis Presley and his contemporaries as being "wasp-waist and swivel-hippy". Unwin claimed his gift came from his mother, who once told him that on the way home she had "falolloped over and grazed her kneeclabbers".
Early life 
Unwin's parents emigrated from the United Kingdom to South Africa in the early 1900s, and their son was born in Pretoria in 1911. Following his father's death in 1914 his mother arranged for the family to return to the United Kingdom. By 1919, Unwin had been sent to the National Children's Home at Congleton in Cheshire. In the late 1920s he studied radio, television and languages at the Regent Street Polytechnic.
In the 1930s, he married his wife Frances, with whom he had two daughters and a son. Unwin later stated Unwinese had its roots in enlivening the bedtime stories which he told his children. In 1940, Unwin got a job at the BBC working on transmitters and was stationed at the Borough Hill transmitting station in Daventry, England. Unwin, his wife and their nine-month-old daughter Marion moved to Long Buckby in Northamptonshire, where he lived for the rest of his life.
Comedy career 
His early career and training introduced him to wireless and radio communication, and this, coupled with work in the BBC's War Reporting Unit from about 1944 was ultimately to prove to be a conduit into the media.
While based in Birmingham, between 1947 and 1951, Unwin made his first accidental broadcast. Whilst testing equipment, he handed the microphone to broadcaster F.R. "Buck" Buckley who ad-libbed a spoof commentary about an imaginary sport called "Fasche". Buckley then encouraged Unwin to join in and introduced him as "Codlington Corthusite", handing back the microphone - he continued in Unwinese.
The recording was played back to two BBC producers, who added some sound effects. The recording was eventually broadcast on Pat Dixon's Mirror of the Month programme and after receiving a good response led to another sketch in which Unwin was interviewed as a man from Atlantis being asked about life in the sunken city. The broadcast produced Unwin's first fan mail, from Joyce Grenfell who had been impressed by his performance. Since Grenfell was Unwin's heroine, the encouragement gave Unwin a tremendous boost and he was inspired to break into show business.
After the war, but still with the BBC, whilst in Egypt and recording a series of shows by Frankie Howerd, the star was taken ill at the last minute and Unwin was pushed onto the stage and told to "do a turn".
Back in the UK, Unwin began to do more on the performing side. His next major breakthrough came when producer Roy Speer introduced him to leading comic Ted Ray. Once Ray had heard Unwin talking he said simply: "I want him in the series." The series was The Spice of Life which also featured June Whitfield and Kenneth Connor. During the mid-1950s, Unwin did about a dozen of these shows and in the process met agent Johnnie Riscoe and daughter Patsy who were to become his managers for the rest of his career. By the end of the fifties Unwin had ventured into the film industry, winning a part in the 1956 Cardew Robinson film Fun at St Fanny's.
Unwinese, also known as "Basic Engly Twenty Fido", was a special, ornamented and mangled form of English in which many of the words were corrupted in a playful and humorous way. Unwin’s performances could be hilarious yet disorienting although the meaning and context were always conveyed in a disguised and picturesque style.
Some appearances and works 
In the ensuing years, Unwin made the following:
- 1956 Fun at St. Fanny's a 1956 film vehicle for English comedian Cardew Robinson.
- 1958 a cameo appearance in the first episode of the radio series Beyond Our Ken
- 1959 A television commercial for Flowers IPA beer, with the slogan "For the best pickit in a brewflade, pick Flowers".
- 1960 an LP of gobbledegook entitled Rotatey Diskers with Unwin. This has since been reissued on CD.
- 1961 The Miscillian Manuscript, a collaboration with artist Roy Dewar; a kind of Unwinese travelogue with cartoons and collages by Dewar.
- 1961 Carry On Regardless, fifth film of the series as "Landlord".
- 1962 House & Garbidge, a spoof of home and lifestyle magazines, again with Dewar.
- 1966 Rock-a-bye Babel and Two Fairly Tales, a selection of spoof nursery rhymes and fairy tales in which Unwinese surrealism almost reaches Joycean levels; with Dewar. The film Press for Time starring Norman Wisdom.
- 1968 narration for "Happiness Stan" on side two of The Small Faces' LP Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake.
- 1968 an appearance in a small role, and a few lines of gobbledegook, in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, as the Chancellor of Vulgaria.
- 1969 He appeared in Gerry Anderson's puppet series The Secret Service, a mixture of live and puppet action in which he and his puppet double played Father Stanley Unwin. Each episode contained a scene where he would try to confuse people with his gobbledegook. Unfortunately, as soon as Anderson's boss Lew Grade heard Unwin's character speaking gobbledegook, he angrily cancelled the show on the grounds that people would not understand it - despite the fact that they were not meant to.
- 1980s a press advertisement for IBM word processors with the prophetic 'throw away your old tripewriter'.
- 1980s a Pirelli tyre advert on television, using the slogan "Outstandifold in the wetty grippers."
- 1987 a television advertisement for the Amstrad 9512 computer, with the slogan "it's word perfectilode."
- 1987 appearing as Number Three in The Tube's parody of The Prisoner, "The Laughing Prisoner."
- 1987 and 1989 appearing in BBC Radio's Just a Minute.
- 1991 appearing as a judge in the comedy series Lazarus and Dingwall.
- 1993 appearing as a Laboratory Assistant in the first episode of "Inside Victor Lewis-Smith."
Unwin was less active in later decades, but still made occasional appearances. In the 1970s, he appeared in The Max Bygraves Show on ITV, sometimes speaking normally and sometimes in gobbledegook. In the final episode Bygraves tried out some gobbledegook phrases on Unwin, who claimed he could not understand them.
Death and legacy 
Stanley Unwin died in 2002 in Daventry. He is buried in the churchyard at Long Buckby, with Frances, who died before him. Their gravestone has the epitaph, "Reunitey in the heavenly-bode – Deep Joy!". A service of thanksgiving was held at St Lawrence's Church in Long Buckby a couple of weeks after his death and ended with a rendering of "Bye, Bye, Blackbird" by John Percival and friends.
The valediction had been prepared by Unwin himself: "Goodly Byelode loyal peeploders! Now all gatherymost to amuse it and have a tilty elbow or a nice cuffle-oteedee - Oh Yes!"
- GRO Register of Deaths: JAN 2002 25B 14 DAVENTRY - Stanley Unwin, DoB = 7 June 1911, aged 90
- Stevens, Christopher (2010). Born Brilliant: The Life Of Kenneth Williams. John Murray. p. 403. ISBN 1-84854-195-3.
- Carroll's influence on Unwin
- Stanley Unwin: Master of nonsense (BBC, 14 January, 2002)
- Chris Ingham, The Rough Guide To The Beatles, Page 220 (Rough Guides Ltd., third edition 2009). ISBN 978-1-84836-525-4
- Unwin, Stanley (1984). Deep joy: master of the sproken [sic] word. Whitby, Yorkshire, England: Caedmon of Whitby. ISBN 0-905355-30-X.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Stanley Unwin (comedian)|
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