Ted Ray heard Stanley talking the talk for the very first time,
he said simply: "I want him in the series."
series was 'The Spice of Life', a Light Programme sketch show
which starred Ray and also featured June Whitfield and Kenneth Connor
in support. Stanley recorded about a dozen of these shows in the
mid-Fifties and it brought him to the attention of agent Johnny
Riscoe who along with his daughter Patsy, continued to look after
Stanley for the rest of his life.
on radio and TV shows like 'Radio Ruffles', 'Early to Braden',
'Beyond Our Ken' and Eric Sykes's 'Gala Night' soon followed
over the next few years, as well as a number of
commercials - the first being for Flowers' Ale.
toe-dipping into the evil world of advertising did cause Stanley
a few problems with the mighty Beeb and was one of the reasons
that led to him leaving the
Corporation in 1961 to take advantage of his escalating
the end of the Fifties he had already got one film in the can -
Cardew Robinson's vehicle 'Fun at St Fanny's' (1956) - and the next
decade was to bring him roles in 'Inn for Trouble' (1960), 'Hair of
the Dog' (1961), 'Carry On Regardless' (1961), 'Press For Time'
(1966) and, of course, 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang' in 1968.
fact the Sixties were to prove Stanley's golden period for a
number of reasons - three books ('The Miscillian Manuscript' in
1961, 'House and Garbidge' in 1962 and 'Rock-a-bye Babel' in
1966), a single ('Goldilocks', released in 1962) and two albums
('Rotatey Diskers with Unwin' in 1961 and 'The World of Stanley
Unwin' in 1967).
his defining moments were to come towards the end of the decade from two
distinctly different movements -
Psychedelia and Supermarionation. In 1968, he recorded the part of the Narrator on the
20-minute, six-track opus on Side Two of the Small Faces'
ground-breaking 'Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake' album, and a year
later, he starred playing himself and his own puppet in Gerry
Anderson's strangely overlooked 'religious' detective series 'The Secret Service'.
this kind of exposure across two wildly disparate fan bases,
Stan acquired not just lasting fame but the sort of cult
celebrity that a lot of his contemporaries would have readily
traded relatives for.
the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties he remained a regular fixture
in advertising and on
chat shows, game shows and anything that needed the sort of
surreal twist that only Unwinese could deliver - a judge in the
nearly forgotten 'Lazarus and Dingwall', a laboratory assistant
in 'Inside Victor Lewis Smith' or an unlikely 'No.3' in Jools
Holland's 'The Laughing Prisoner'.
as if to prove the point that Stan's unique talent was as
cross-generational as it was timeless, one of his last mainstream TV 'appearances'
in 1998 was to
supply the voice of accountant 'Mr Wangle' in the first series
of 'Rex the Runt'.
this time, the guy was well into his late 80s. Was he retiring?
Was he heck.