As the cameras rolled this summer at RAF Coningsby for the Antiques Roadshow, a quintet of ventriloquist dolls made the leap from stage to screen for the first and who knows, perhaps not the last time.
The dolls featured on the show, named Rusty, Jimmy, Whinnie, Toby and Pocket, all belonged to Sheffield based Ventriloquist and Magician Cyril Walter Hogg. Known on stage as Cyril Walters, his career spanned an incredible 50 years.
Born in Walkley, Sheffield, in 1923 Cyril bought Jimmy, his first doll, when he was only 11 years old. The inspiration came from a theatre visit with his father and by 1936 Cyril and Jimmy were picking up local bookings, with one of his earliest shows being in Penistone, South Yorkshire.
The most famous partner was Rusty and he arrived in the 1940’s then went off to war with Cyril to entertain the troops alongside Cyril’s work as an army driver.
After the war Cyril’s reputation began to grow and a steady stream of work came along from the vibrant northern clubs scene, theatres and seaside pier shows.
Gradually, as the world changed and the provisional clubs and theatres began to close, Cyril changed his act, concentrating more on children’s entertainment and the inclusion of a Punch and Judy show.
Cyril stopped working at the age of 80 and following the sad news of his death in 2015, here at the Sheffield Auction Gallery we have been kindly given instructions to sell the ventriloquist dolls, props, tricks and Punch and Judy. Perhaps to inspire the next generation of entertainers.
n Magic tricks, props and Punch and Judy sets, Friday, January 8; Ventriloquist dolls, Friday, January 22.