Obituary: Ken Platt

" 'ALLO, I won't take me coat off, I'm not stoppin'!" One of the great comedy catchphrases of yesteryear and, like all great catchphrases, one that immediately conjures up in the mind's television screen the comedian who coined it. Ken Platt opened his every appearance with the same saying, and it will be remembered by all who heard or saw him say those 10 wonderful words.

Kenneth Platt was born in Leigh in Lancashire in 1921. His working-class parents found him funny from the start, and at the age of 12 so did the audiences for his Sunday School concerts. Sent to work at the age of 14, he was soon augmenting his wages as a weaver of cables by earning 10 shillings (50 pence) a show at the local Working Men's Club.

By now he had taught himself the ukelele and was plucking away singing selections from the latest George Formby films. In fact he was now billing himself as "George Formby the Second", something that it was a good job Formby the First never knew about.

Called into the Army early in the Second World War, Platt spent a full five years in service, but his natural flair for comedy performances eventually won him a transfer to CSE, the Combined Services Entertainment Unit. The rest of his war service was spent touring North Africa, Corsica, Scandinavia, Italy and Greece, and even after demobilisation he could be found entertaining the Armed Forces in Austria and Germany.

His parents now bought themselves a grocery shop, and Platt found himself a steady job serving behind the counter. His joking with the customers impressed Ronnie Taylor, the famous producer and scriptwriter then working for the BBC's powerful Northern Variety Department. He offered Platt a radio audition, a chance the comedian jumped at.

This was in July 1950, but unhappily he had to wait six months for the result. Then in January 1951 came the call: at three days' notice he was offered the position of resident comedian on Variety Fanfare.

This hugely popular series, billed in Radio Times as "heralding variety in the North", had begun in April 1949 with the popular "shaggy dog" comedian Michael Howard as the resident. Later came Douglas "Cardew" Robinson, the six-foot skinny schoolboy, so clearly Platt was following in famous funny footsteps. During this run of a year he added another catchphrase to his repertoire: "Daft as a brush!"

In 1956 came that great accolade in the world of radio comedy when Platt was cast as a regular character in the BBC's top sitcom series, Educating Archie. This show, starring the ventriloquist Peter Brough and his dummy Archie Andrews, had begun in June 1950 as a six-week try-out and wound up 10 years later in 1960.

The original cast seems star-studded today, but in fact was made up of newcomers to the comedy scene. Max Bygraves was the cheery cockney announcing himself with "I've arrived and to prove it I'm here!" Hattie Jacques played Agatha Dinglebody, Robert Moreton read from his Bumper Fun Book, capping each gag with "Oh, get in there Moreton!" and the teenage Julie Andrews sang stunning soprano songs. Star after star was virtually born in this series: Harry Secombe, Tony Hancock, Alfred Marks, Bernard Miles, Beryl Reid and Dick Emery, to name but a few. And, of course, in 1956 Ken Platt.

Having securely planted his catchphrase, Platt launched into a series of weekly variations, such as "I won't take me coat off, I've still got me pyjamas on underneath!" A typical gag, plucked from a 1957 radio tape recently released by the BBC, had Peter Brough asking Platt if he had ever come into contact with livestock. "I once had some scruffy digs in Bootle," replies Platt, his thick northern accent undimmed by his weekly trip down to Broadcasting House.

The same year television beckoned, and Platt was made presenter of Granada's Spot the Tune. This quiz series had contestants trying to identify popular songs from a few brief notes played by the Peter Knight Orchestra. Marion Ryan sang a ditty now and then, and the series ran a whopping 209 half- hours.

Platt did not, of course, host them all: he was replaced by the American pop singer Jackie Rae. The prizes of the period are interesting: the jackpot was pounds 300 and the grand total of all the cash given away over the four years was pounds 5,471. The series was later revived by Thames Television as Name That Tune.

The Fifties proved a profitable period for Platt. At Christmas 1952 he starred in his first pantomime at the Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield. In 1954 the impresarios George and Alfred Black put him into their summer season show at Blackpool, and in 1955 he toured the music halls in All Star Variety with that bouncy but ill-fated croonette Alma Cogan.

In 1960 he starred in his first straight play, Love Locked Out, at the Alhambra Theatre, Morecambe, and in 1962 he returned to television to star in his own series, Saturday Bandbox. Now and then he popped up in several sitcoms, including The Liver Birds in 1971, where he played a Liverpool deliveryman. His best-remembered spot of television fun may be on the BBC's The Good Old Days in 1969, when he shared the period stage with perhaps the greatest of all the northern comics, Albert Modley.

Not seen or heard for some years due to a severe stroke which he suffered in 1990, Platt is fondly remembered by his old friend from the theatre world Duggie Chapman. "Ken was an old-fashioned comedian with a soft touch," he said.

Kenneth Platt, comedian and broadcaster: born Leigh, Lancashire 17 February 1921; died Blackpool 2 October 1998.

Arts and Entertainment
The Rolling Stones at the Roundhouse in London in 1971: from the left, Keys, Charlie Watts, Mick Taylor and Mick Jagger

Music ...featuring Eric Clapton no less
Arts and Entertainment
In the dock: Dot Branning (June Brown); Union boss claims EastEnders writers are paid less than minimum wage

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Roger Christian wrote and directed the 1980 Black Angel original, which was lost until 2011

film
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Green (Hand out press photograph provided by Camilla Gould)

TV
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones reviewWarning: Spoilers aplenty
Arts and Entertainment
Matthew Healy of The 1975 performing on the Pyramid Stage at the Glastonbury Festival, at Worthy Farm in Somerset

music
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe Withnail and I creator, has a new theory about killer's identity
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
tvDick Clement and Ian La Frenais are back for the first time in a decade
Arts and Entertainment
The Clangers: 1969-1974
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Rocky road: Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino play an estranged husband and wife in 'San Andreas'
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Nicole Kidman plays Grace Kelly in the film, which was criticised by Monaco’s royal family

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emilia Clarke could have been Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades of Grey but passed it up because of the nude scenes

film
Arts and Entertainment
A$AP Rocky and Rita Ora pictured together in 2012

music
Arts and Entertainment
A case for Mulder and Scully? David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson in ‘The X-Files’

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Impressions of the Creative Community Courtyard within d3. The development is designed to 'inspire emerging designers and artists, and attract visitors'

architecture
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010

GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister

TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride

Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan

FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head

Arts and Entertainment
Måns Zelmerlöw performing

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Norton was back in the commentating seat for Eurovision 2015

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May on stage

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Arts and Entertainment

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
film
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Comics
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

    ‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

    Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
    The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

    The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

    ... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
    12 best olive oils

    Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

    Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
    Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

    Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

    Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
    Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
    Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

    The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

    Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
    The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

    The future of songwriting

    How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
    William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

    Recognition at long last

    Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
    Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

    Beating obesity

    The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
    9 best women's festival waterproofs

    Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

    These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
    Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

    Wiggins worried

    Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back