Charlie Drake (19 June 1925 – 23 December 2006), was an English comedian, actor, writer and singer. With his small stature, curly red hair and liking for slapstick he was a popular comedian with children in his early years, becoming nationally-known for his "Hello, My Darlings" catchphrase.
Born Charles Edward Springall in the Elephant and Castle, Southwark, South London, he took his mother's maiden name “Drake" for the stage and, later, television and film, achieving success as a comedian.
Drake made his first appearance on stage at the age of eight, and after leaving school toured working men's clubs. After serving in the Royal Air Force during World War II, Drake turned professional and made his TV debut in The Centre Show in 1953. He then joined his wartime comrade Jack Edwardes to form a double act, named "Mick and Montmorency".
He appeared in the television shows Laughter in Store (1957), Drake's Progress (1957), Charlie Drake In… (1958 to 1960) and The Charlie Drake Show (1960 to 1961), being particularly remembered for his opening catchphrase "Hello, My Darlings!"
Filming of the Charlie Drake Show by the BBC was cut short, however, by a serious accident that occurred in 1961, during a live transmission. Drake had arranged for a bookcase to be set up in such a way that it would fall apart during a slapstick sketch in which he was pulled through it. It was later discovered that an over-enthusiastic workman had "mended" the bookcase before the broadcast. The actors working with him, unaware of what had happened, proceeded with the rest of the sketch which required that they pick him up and throw him through an open window. Drake fractured his skull and was unconscious for three days. It was two years before he returned to the screen.
TV fame led to four films — Sands of the Desert (1960), Petticoat Pirates (1961), The Cracksman (1963) and Mr Ten Percent (1967). He returned to TV in 1963 with The Charlie Drake Show again, a
compilation of which won an award at the Montreux Festival in 1968. (The centrepiece of this was an extended sketch featuring an orchestra in which Drake appeared to play all the instruments, as well as conducting.) Other shows included Who is Sylvia (1967) and Slapstick and Old Lace (1971), but it was The Worker (1965 to 1970) that gained most acclaim.
In The Worker he played a perpetually unemployed labourer who, in every episode, was dispatched to a new job by the ever-frustrated Mr. Pugh (Henry McGee) at the local labour exchange. All the jobs he embarked upon ended in disaster, sometimes with a burst of classic slapstick, sometimes with a bewildered Charlie himself at the centre of incomprehensible actions by the people employing him. Bookending these sequences were the encounters between Charlie and Pugh which were often funnier than the core of the episode. Running jokes included Charlie's inability to manage Mr Pugh's name, his mispronunciations ranging from a childish "Mi'er Poo" to "Peeyooo". Charlie sang the theme song himself, using an old music hall number which naturally became famous in its own right.
He recorded a remarkable number of records, the first of which, Splish Splash, a cover version of a rock and roll number originally recorded by Bobby Darin, got into the UK Top 10, but the rest were mostly novelty songs. One of these, My Boomerang Won't Come Back, became a modest hit in the United States, where for the most part his work was otherwise not known.
Drake turned to straight acting in the 1980s, winning acclaim for his role as Touchstone in Shakespeare's As You Like It (at the Ludlow Festival), and an award for his part in Harold Pinter's The Caretaker. Drake also starred as Smallweed in the BBC adaptation of Bleak House (1985), and Filipina Dreamgirls, a TV movie for the BBC. His final appearances on stage and film were with Jim Davidson's adult adaptation of Cinderella, as Baron von Hardon in "Sinderella Comes Again"
Drake suffered a stroke in 1995 and retired, staying at Brinsworth House, a retirement home for actors and performers, run by the Entertainment Artistes Benevolent Fund, until his death on 23 December 2006, after suffering multiple strokes the previous night. (info Wikipedia)