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Monday, 14 January, 2002, 14:35 GMT
Stanley Unwin: Master of nonsense
Stanley Unwin
Verbal magician: Stanley Unwin
"Professor" Stanley Unwin specialised in an unfathomable verbal style, replete with malapropisms and poetic gobbledegook.

It brightened the last days of variety theatre and, through appearances in radio comedies during the 1950s, brought him cult status during the hippie era of the late 1960s.

Born in June 1911 in Pretoria, South Africa, Stanley Unwin's career began unexpectedly when his mother tripped up one day, telling her son she had "falloloped over and grazed her kneeclapper".


Once apollytito and Goldiloppers set out in the deep dark of the forry

Stanley Unwin
Fascinated by the absurdity of this language and with that of Edward Lear, writer of The Owl and The Pussycat, he developed his own bizarre vocabulary, Unwinese, with which he delighted his own children.

The opening lines of Goldiloppers, his version of Goldilocks, gives a flavour of Stanley Unwin's style.

"Once apollytito and Goldiloppers set out in the deep dark of the forry. She was carry a basket with buttere-flabe and cheesy flavour."

After serving as a wireless operator in the Merchant Navy, Stanley Unwin joined the BBC in 1940 as an engineer in the Corporation's war reporting unit.

His linguistic dexterity impressed his colleagues, who eventually persuaded him to perform a party piece into a microphone.

Before long, he had become a variety performer in the theatre, on radio and on the new medium of television, most notably alongside the magician David Nixon on Showtime.

On film, he appeared in 1955's Fun at St Fanny's with a veritable rogues' gallery of comedy: bumbling Peter Butterworth, stick-like Cardew "The Cad" Robinson, rotund and avuncular Fred Emney and, the then, juvenile Ronnie Corbett.

As the gloom of post-war austerity transformed into the Swinging Sixties, Stanley Unwin gained a whole new audience as a seer/sage of psychedelia.

He featured as the narrator on The Small Faces' 1968 concept album, Ogden's Nut Gone Flake, excelling on the track Happiness Stan.

The album, the band's last, remained at the top of the charts for six weeks.

During the same year he featured as the Chancellor in the big screen adaptation of Ian Fleming's children's novel, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Later, he was transformed into a puppet, Father Stanley Unwin, in Gerry Anderson's short-lived, and truly odd, series The Secret Service.

Over the years, Stanley Unwin's voice was used for many television advertisements, including a memorable plug for Pirelli tyres, with subtitles being utilised to clarify his message.

More recently, well into his 80s, his jingles graced the airwaves at Kiss FM.

Stanley Unwin's gentle humour was whimsical and typically British, bringing "wonderboldness and deep, deep joy" to fans including Spike Milligan, Ken Dodd and Tommy Cooper.

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