Obituary: Peter Dulay

"SMILE - YOU'RE on Candid Camera!" Although Peter Dulay will be best remembered for his on-screen hosting of Independent Television's first comedy series to play practical jokes on unsuspecting members of the public, he neither originated the programme, nor was he the original host. He was, however, a significant comedy creator as both scriptwriter and producer of many ITV series.

Peter Dulay was born in 1920, the son of William Dooley, who changed his name to sound more significant in his stage billing. Dooley senior also changed his first name, and as Benson Dulay will be recalled by old-time variety lovers as a comedy magician of some note. On the music- hall stage from his London debut at the Holborn Empire in 1913, he added comedy to his routine at the famous City Varieties in Leeds.

He added even more fun when in 1928 he added his eight-year-old son into his act, somewhat illegally. When his father appealed for an assistant, the boy Peter used to come on stage from a seat in the audience, and promptly started to upset the magician's tricks. "You don't know me, do you?" said Benson. "No, Dad," answered the cocky kid. From then on the boy ruined each and every trick his old man tried to set up.

With the outbreak of the Second World War, Dulay senior set up a magic shop, creating tricks and properties for professional magicians to purchase. Dulay junior went into the Army where he did his share of entertaining his fellow conscripts. After the war Peter Dulay became a solo stand-up comic, performing a combination of comedy and elementary conjuring tricks in variety tours, summer shows and pantomimes for such top producers as George and Alfred Black. When Max Wall left the London Coliseum production of The Pajama Game in 1955, Dulay took over his role.

During the 1950s Dulay began to write comedy scripts for other performers, including the great Copenhagen-born comedian and pianist Victor Borge, who worked frequently in England from 1956. Dulay broke into television writing in 1961, co- scripting Roamin' Holiday with Eric Sykes for Max Bygraves in a series which Bygraves made co- starring his wife and family. Bill Ward was the producer.

Dulay now worked regularly as a comedy writer in independent television. Among the many series he produced for ABC-TV were Comedy Bandbox (1962), a showcase for new comedians, including Hope and Keen, and Frankie and Bruce (1966), which co-starred two comedians surnamed Howerd and Forsyth.

In 1969 Dulay moved to Yorkshire Television for a long run as writer/producer of Sez Les, a delightful and recently re-run series starring that late baiter of mothers-in-law, Les Dawson, and his brilliant partner, Roy Barraclough, later a stalwart of Coronation Street. Back in London, Dulay scripted for London Weekend The Leslie Crowther Show, in which that pleasant comedian was backed up by Arthur ("Mum, They're Laughing At Me!") English, Albert ("Daft as a Brush!") Modley and Chick Murray, the dead-pan delivery man from Dundee.

In 1972 Dulay scripted Shut That Door for ATV, a showcase series for Larry Grayson, the comedian who shot to fame when in 1978 he took over The Generation Game from Bruce Forsyth. Later Dulay took Grayson on in a different way, becoming his agent. The last comedy series Dulay produced was called Just Like That (1978), which starred, of course, that clumsy conjuror, Tommy Cooper, being named after his catch-phrase.

Candid Camera, the only series in which Dulay actually appeared before the public, began back in 1947 on American radio. Then known as Candid Microphone, it was created and compered by Allen Funt, who had originated the concept of impromptu fun with a hidden microphone when he was in services radio during the war.

A huge and frequently hilarious success, the show's title and concept was bought by Britain's entrepreneurial producer for Radio Luxembourg, Monty Bailey-Watson. Sponsored by Pam Radios, the British radio version premiered on 2 April 1956, hosted by, of all people, Noel Johnson, the BBC's Dick Barton Special Agent. The jokes were played on the unsuspecting public by the dead-pan Jonathan Routh.

Bob Monkhouse, who had seen the visual version of Funt's series in some short films made by Columbia, visited the United States and watched the programme in production. He was more than delighted to be present when the miserable man playing tricks on patrons of a lunch counter turned out to be none other than his silent film idol, Buster Keaton. When the programme was first transmitted on ABC-TV in September 1960, it was Monkhouse who compered.

His writing partner, Dennis Goodwin, scripted the stunts, which were again pulled by Jonathan Routh. Later chair-chaps were Don Arrol (1962), the impressionist Peter Goodwright (1963) and the conjuror David Nixon (1964). It would be more than a decade later that the new series, with Dulay on screen linking the on-the-spot tricks by clumsy Arthur Atkins, revived the forgotten format that is so strong in today's television, that of playing painful practical jokes on the unsuspecting public.

After several series Dulay retired into personal management. He is survived by his wife, the dancer Deidre Morgan, and their three daughters.

Peter Dooley (Peter Dulay), television presenter and scriptwriter: born 1920; married Deidre Morgan (three daughters); died Brighton, East Sussex 29 October 1999.

Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment
Relocation, relocation: Zawe Ashton travels the pathway to Northampton

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
BBC Three was launched a little over five years ago with the slogan: “Three, is a magic number, yes it is.”

BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital move

TV
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer

film
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Arts and Entertainment

music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Arts and Entertainment
The audience aimed thousands of Apple’s product units at Taylor Swift throughout the show
musicReview: On stage her manner is natural, her command of space masterful
Arts and Entertainment
Channel 4 is reviving its Chris Evans-hosted Nineties hit TFI Friday

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford plays Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade (1989)

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
A Glastonbury reveller hides under an umbrella at the festival last year

Glastonbury
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Miles Morales is to replace Peter Parker as the new Spider-Man

comics
Arts and Entertainment
The sequel to 1993's Jurassic Park, Jurassic World, has stormed into the global record books to score the highest worldwide opening weekend in history.

film
Arts and Entertainment
Odi (Will Tudor)
tvReview: Humans, episode 2
Arts and Entertainment
Can't cope with a Port-A-loo? We've got the solution for you

FestivalsFive ways to avoid the portable toilets

Arts and Entertainment
Some zookeepers have been braver than others in the #jurassiczoo trend

Jurassic WorldThe results are completely brilliant

Arts and Entertainment
An original Miffy illustration
art
Arts and Entertainment
Man of mystery: Ian McKellen as an ageing Sherlock Holmes
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Kitchen set: Yvette Fielding, Patricia Potter, Chesney Hawkes, Sarah Harding and Sheree Murphy
TV review
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.

    Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

    Making of a killer

    What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
    UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

    Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

    Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
    Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
    Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

    No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

    Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
    Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

    Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

    The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
    Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

    Something wicked?

    Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
    10 best sun creams for body

    10 best sun creams for body

    Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

    Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
    Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

    There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

    The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

    Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
    Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

    One day to find €1.6bn

    Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
    New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

    'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

    Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
    Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

    Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

    The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
    Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

    Historians map out untold LGBT histories

    Public are being asked to help improve the map