Ted Rogers (comedian)
|Born||Edward George Rogers
20 July 1935
Kennington, London, England
|Died||2 May 2001
Lambeth, London, England
Ted Rogers (20 July 1935 – 2 May 2001) was a fast-talking English comedian and light entertainer who started his career as a Redcoat entertainer and is best remembered as the host of the Yorkshire Television game show 3-2-1.
Early life and career
Rogers was born Edward George Rogers in Kennington, South London and went to school in Lambeth. His idol as a youngster was Danny Kaye and Rogers won a holiday camp talent contest impersonating Kaye as a youngster, but he would later put all show-business offers on hold whilst he did his national service in the RAF.
In the early 1960s Rogers would appear as a stand up comedian on the radio programme Billy Cotton Band Show, alongside singers such as Tom Jones, Cliff Richard and Alma Cogan and comedians Terry Scott and Hugh Lloyd. He went on to become a familiar presence and last to host Sunday Night at the London Palladium in 1974. Rogers also appeared on the comedy panel game Jokers Wild. He became hugely popular with American artists. He was asked personally by Perry Como to join him on his tour of Britain as a comedian after a Royal Variety Performance. This was so successful that Perry told Bing Crosby that Ted was the person he had to work with. Bing phoned Ted and personally asked him to join him on five world tours. Not only to do his act of topical jokes but to do a double act similar to Bob Hope and sing Gone Fishin' as a tribute to Louis Armstrong. Whilst on tour he was asked to film a pilot for a new TV game show.
Rogers achieved his biggest success as the presenter of ITV's variety gameshow 3-2-1. It ran for just over ten years in a top-rating Saturday night slot. He earned £130,000 a year in the early 1980s from 3-2-1 alone, and combined this with a career as a highly paid after dinner speaker and made regular cabaret and public appearances.
Rogers was a staunch supporter of Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government of the 1980s: he spoke at their election rallies in 1979, 1983 and 1987. On the night of the 1979 General Election he said "We'll know in the morning if we have a silly old woman as Prime Minister or whether Margaret Thatcher got in".
3-2-1 was cancelled in 1988 when still attracting audiences of 12 million and in the Top 20 ratings.
In the early 1990s, Rogers fell on hard times and was declared bankrupt in February 1992 having apparently invested his fortune in a failed business venture. His home at Little Chalfont, Buckinghamshire, was repossessed and Rogers' production company collapsed with debts of £80,000. He moved from Buckinghamshire to a modest home in Haslemere, Surrey.
In April 1996 Rogers told the Sunday Mirror that "The Oxbridge lot got control of TV and they didn't really want [the show]. It was too downmarket for them. We were still getting 12 million viewers when they took it off after 10 years. These days if a show gets nine million everyone does a lap of honour". Later that year, in an interview with Garry Bushell, Rogers said, "Entertainment is in the hands of Oxbridge graduates. We treat our stars disgracefully. Look at ITV and Benny Hill. Look how the BBC treated Les Dawson. We need to make programmes that entertain an audience again."
In 1996 Rogers performed three times a week as the headline act in the summer show in Whitby, North Yorkshire from 1 July to 6 September. In 1997–98 Rogers appeared in the touring production of the play Danny and Me about his hero. Towards the end of the decade, the satellite/cable station Challenge began re-running episodes of 3-2-1. In 2000, Rogers was seen during the sponsor credits for the ITV quiz Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? - sitting in a dressing room with 3-2-1 mascot Dusty Bin and bemoaning the new show's success.
In 1999 and 2000 Rogers made several commercials for fast food chain, McDonald's. On 10 November 2000, Rogers appeared as a guest on TFI Friday. His final television appearance, which was screened at the end of January 2001, saw him playing the host of a downmarket quiz show in the BBC children's sitcom ChuckleVision. Had he lived, he would have worked with his old friend Jackie Mason on a Vaudeville-type act in America which was due to start in October 2001.
Ted Rogers was married twice, firstly to his childhood sweetheart Marge, by whom he had two daughters, and then married Marion by whom he had a daughter and a son.