Charlie Drake

Charlie Drake

Date of birth: 19-06-1925

Although he originally tried to break into showbusiness as a singer, with his shock of red hair 5ft1in stature and strained Cockney voice, it was perhaps inevitable that Drake would find more success as a comic.

Like many others, he concentrated on a stage career afted demob for the RAF, and he first appeared on TV in 1954 as half of a children's TV slapstick duo Mick and Montmorency, with his 6ft 4in wartime comrade Jack Edwardes

The BBC then asked him to come up with an adult show, and the result, Laughter In Store, led to others, see left, including his most famous, The Worker, as well as a few unsuccesful films.

In 1961, he fractured his skull when a slapstick stunt on his live BBC show, in which he was pulled through a bookcase and thrown through a window, went wrong - leaving him unconscious for three days. He retired from showbusiness for two years after the accident.

Best remembered for his opening catchphrase Hello My Darlings!, Drake eventuallty returned to music, starting with a genuine rock and roll cover Splish Splash, but quickly giving way to a string of novelty tracks, including, most famously My Boomerang Won't Come Back.

In the Seventies, his star faded. According to his friend Eric Sykes the work dried up after he clashed with the powerful actors' union Equity over the casting of a girl in one of his pantomimes who didn't have an Equity card. 'There aren't many people who will put their career on the line for a principle,' he wrote in hs book Comedy Heroes. 'He has all my admiration’.

Among his last appearances were supporting roles in Jim Davidson's adult pantomime, Sinderella.

He suffered a stroke in 1995 and has now retired to a nursing home on the south coast.

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My Boomerang Won't Come Back is banned

Charlie Drake's 1961 comedy song is 'offensive'

My Boomerang Won't Come Back, the 54-year-old novelty song by comedian Charlie Drake, has been banned by Australia's national broadcaster for being offensive.

The track, about an Aboriginal boy banished from his tribe because he can't use the traditional weapon, topped the charts down under in 1962.

However, when it was played on ABC's radio station in Hobart, Tasmania, in September one listener complained that it was racist.

My boomerang wont come backNow the broadcaster's Audience and Consumer Affairs Department has upheld that complaint, saying the track 'as not in keeping with the ABC's editorial standards for harm and offence; there was no editorial justification for playing it.'

They added: 'The song was not on a regular ABC playlist but was aired because it was requested by a listener. This error was due to staff not being familiar with the track's lyrics.

'The ABC apologised to the complainant, removed the track completely from the system and took steps to ensure that this would not happen again.'

Drake's song – which was produced by George Martin before he went on to work with The Beatles –  was controversial even at the time of its 1961 release. The BBC refused to play the original version which contained the line: 'I've waved the thing all over the place/practiced till I was black in the face', so it was re-recorded as 'blue in the face'.

The lyrics have Drake's character – who maintains his Cockney voice – going to a witch doctor to learn how to throw the boomerang,and charging him 14 chickens.

Its lack of political correctness also means an Aboriginal meeting is described as a 'pow-wow', a term usually associated with Native Americans, while the chanting on the track sounds more African than Aboriginal.

The song reached No 14 in the UK, No 1 in Australia and No 2 in Canada. It prompted Drake – who died in 2006, at the age of 81 – to follow it up with I Bent My Assegai, about the Zulu spear.

Here is My Boomerang Won't Come Back:

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Published: 23 Nov 2015

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DVD (2007)
The Worker

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