Carflighty in the Chittyfold



Nauticold'n trainit


Actyup in spotlighty

Starrystage'n screel

Sitting cumftibold


When Ted Ray heard Stanley talking the talk for the very first time, he said simply: "I want him in the series."


The 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.


Appearances 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.


This 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 non-engineering career.


By 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.


In 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).


But 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'.


With 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.


Throughout 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'.


And 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'.


By this time, the guy was well into his late 80s. Was he retiring? Was he heck.