First TV series for one of Britain's most popular comedians, which mixed variety, Ray's excellent stand-up comedy routine and, later on, a selection of sketches including a series of domestic situations with Diane Hart as his wife and Kenneth Williams as his interfering brother-in-law.
Born Charles Olden in Wigan in 1905 Ted Ray entered showbiz as a violinist by the name of Nedlo the Gypsy. In the early thirties he developed a style that mixed his playing with comedy ('fiddling and fooling' is how he was billed) and built up a good enough reputation for himself that by 1935 he landed his first film role. Influenced by a style favoured by US comedians Ted dropped the violin playing as his main speciality (although it still remained a part of his act) to concentrate on his comedy, delivering a fine line in steady quips and patter. He was one of the first (if not the first) British comedian to appear on stage in an ordinary lounge suit.
In 1949 Ted Ray became a household name when he was given his own BBC radio show "Ray's a Laugh", which was a combination of comedy and music. The series ran until 1961 and even after it ended Ted remained in demand. He performed at the London Palladium more times than anyone (except comedian Joe Church), was a regular guest on TV variety shows and the linchpin of the radio panel game "Does The Team Think?" Ted died in November 1977 less than two weeks before his 72nd birthday. His two sons followed him into show business; Andrew Ray an actor and Robin Ray a popular radio presenter.
Published on February 6th, 2019. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.