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
Call The Midwife: Miranda Hart as Chummy

tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods

Arts and Entertainment
The cast of Downton Abbey in the 2014 Christmas special

tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas

Arts and Entertainment
Dapper Laughs found success through the video app Vine

comedy Erm...he seems to be back

Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)

tvReview: No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Arts and Entertainment
Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly flanking 'Strictly' winners Flavia Cacace and Louis Smith

tv Gymnast Louis Smith triumphed in the Christmas special

Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Shenaz Treasurywala
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump


Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

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

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

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

    Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

    Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

    The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
    Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

    Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

    France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
    Sports Quiz of the Year

    Sports Quiz of the Year

    So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
    Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

    Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

    From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
    Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

    Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

    Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect