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Charlie's next appearance in Nottingham was due to be in Jim Davidson's dubious adult "pantomime" Sinderella in 1996, but Drake pulled out, citing ill health.

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Slapstick was his hallmark. In one show broadcast live an unseen wire was attached so he could be sharply hauled through what looked like a solid wall. It was supposed to be a collapsible one. It wasn't. The wall had been stuck firm and Charlie crashed into it.

Retorts Charlie: "Oh, I never thought of that."

Back in 1981, he played the Cowardly Lion in the Nottingham Theatre Royal pantomime, the Wizard of Oz. Despite his trademark mass of blond hair, he had to wear a lion wig for the part, joking with reporters: "It's my mane concern."

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hit the mark.

But television gave him a much wider audience, and he became one of the biggest names on the box in the 1950s and into the 60s.

It's all too easy to forget he was an actor of considerable talent, which those who saw him in Shakespeare or Harold Pinter plays will confirm.

In BBC1's 1985 adaptation of Charles Dickens' Bleak House, he played a ruthless and greedy moneylender, Smallweed. He also played a gangland boss in the 1990s ITV series 99 1.

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The star out cold, the plug had to be pulled on the transmission while Charlie was carted off for concussion treatment.

There was also his hit record, My Boomerang Won't Come Back: "Well first you've got to throw it."

In the meantime he made four films, Sands of the Desert (1960), Petticoat Pirates (1961), The Cracksman (1963) and Mr Ten Per Cent (1967), having long before made a film with Bob Monkhouse Fast and Loose.

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(Drake).

With the BBC, he made Drake's Progress in the late 1950s, followed by Air Max 95 Escape Pack The Charlie Drake Show at the beginning of the 1960s.

Those ITV series, The Charlie Drake Show, Who Is Sylvia? and Slapstick and Old Lace were popular enough, but it was The Worker which ran for five years from the mid 60s that really Air Max 95 Prm Tape

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Then there was his "Hello, my darlings" catchphrase.

THERE were certain hallmarks to Charlie Drake's performance that made him unique and one of the most popular TV stars of his day. There was his size just 5ft 1in his red blond curly hair, his taste for slapstick which would land him in hospital, of which more later, and his air of naivety, albeit part of the act.

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Whether they liked it or not, children's shows were their bread and butter. In 1955, they landed their Mick and Montmorency series for ITV, then still a young station finding its feet. The series ran until 1958. But Drake's star, rather than Edwardes's, was shining more and more. He landed TV solo spots and decided the partnership with Edwardes had to end.

In 1963, he returned to ITV, where he was to remain for the rest of his comedy career, apart from the one BBC series, The Charlie Drake Show, in 1967 68. He won a major comedy award for that at the Montreux Television Festival.

Drake's real name was Charles Springall. He was born in June, 1925, in the Elephant and Castle. A densely populated part of South London, it's an area noted for producing showmen. Charlie Chaplin came from nearby Walworth, for example.

His appeal by now broadened, adults thought he was hilarious, having made his first TV appearance in 1953. Soon after, he teamed up with the 6ft 4in comedian Jack Edwardes to form a double act. The two men had met during war service in the RAF. They appeared in a 1954 talent programme, Showcase, and realised that, at least for the time being, they were better off literally and financially with a children's audience and called their act Mick (Edwardes) and Montmorency Air Max Jacquard Grey

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panto in Nottingham

It was this comedy that landed Charlie in hospital.

He co wrote all his own material and began to reach a wider audience through BBC TV's The Laughter in Store, which began in January, 1957.

Drake was the man unable to hold down a job and up against the odds. Ironically, given the subject matter and popularity, it was more or less the end of his TV career. The only other regular TV work he had was in 1978, in Bruce Forsyth's Big Night, again playing his Worker character in 10 minute skits.

´╗┐Charlie Drake appeared in Air Max Colors

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Charlie took his mother's maiden name, Drake, when he went into entertainment. Probably because of his size, and the general material he used, the early years of his career saw him especially popular with children.

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