In his heyday, Ray Alan, who has died aged 79, was described by some as the world’s greatest ventriloquist, and his dummy was the boozy Lord Charles. The hoity-toity aristocrat with his put-down catchphrases, such as “You silly arse!”, proved to be a long-lived inspiration at a time when so many other ventriloquists and their dummies were going out of business.

A dummy that speaks with the permanently slurred lazy drawl of a half-cut upper class alcoholic. What an elegant solution to the problem of being a piss poor ventriloquist.

R.I.P. Ray Alan, ventriloquist and writer, born 18 September 1930; died 24 May 2010