Stainless Stephen

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Stainless Stephen
Stainless Stephen portrayed on a 1935 WD & HO Wills cigarette card.
Born Arthur Clifford Baynes
(1892-11-30)30 November 1892
Sheffield, Yorkshire
Died 1971 (aged 78–79)
Chiddingstone, Kent
Occupation Music hall entertainer, radio entertainer

Arthur Clifford Baynes (30 November 1892–1971) was an English teacher and comedian from the steel-making city of Sheffield, Yorkshire, who performed under the stage name Stainless Stephen. During World War One, he served in the Sheffield City Battalion.[1]

Never quite in the front rank of British music hall comedians, he would appear dressed in a smart tuxedo, a bowler hat with a steel band around it, a rotating bow tie, and a stainless steel vest. Perhaps third on the bill, this may explain why he did not give up his day job at Crookes Endowed School, which he joined in 1922 after his demobilisation. That is until 1935, when he moved to London to be nearer the BBC. His first stage appearance was at the Palace, Luton, in 1921.

His speciality was that during his intoned monologue, he would interrupt the flow by supplying the punctuation, thus:

This is Stainless aimless brainless Stephen, semi-colon, broadcasting semi-conscious at the microphone semi-frantic.

Closing a broadcast on 22 March 1941, he said:

And so, countrymen, semi-colon, all shoulders to the wheel, semi-quaver, we'll carry on till we get the Axis semi-circle, and Hitler asks us for a full stop!

He is said to have based the idea during a radio course he took while on military service.[2] Stainless Stephen appeared in Radio Parade (1933), a film of (then) current music hall acts. He supported Will Hay at the Victoria Palace in 1944, and appeared on the bill at the London Palladium's Royal Command Performance in 1945.

As a postscript to his career Stainless Stephen appeared as a guest on Frost on Saturday on ITV on 15 November 1969. This edition was dedicated to the history of British Broadcasting to mark the first evening of colour transmissions on ITV. In the show the comedian gave the television audience a sample of his somewhat unusual comedy routine. This programme survives intact in the ITV archives and is available on DVD.[3]

In his younger days, Baynes was a racing cyclist and continued to have an interest in cycling throughout his life. His cycle racing medals are soon to be on public display in Sheffield Museum He died in Chiddingstone, Kent in 1971.[4]


  1. ^ Sheffield City Battalion: The 12th (Service) Battalion York & Lancaster Regiment Sheffield City Battalion: The 12th (Service) Battalion York & Lancaster Regiment by Ralph Gibson and Paul Oldfield, p. 30
  2. ^ user posting - Stainless Stephen for Reference
  3. ^ Network DVD - Frost on Saturday
  4. ^ BFI database accessed on 12 December 2006

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