Keith Harris The Puppet Entertainer dies at 67
Entertainer Keith Harris, best known for performances with his puppet Orville, has died, aged 67.
His agent Robert C Kelly confirmed the news on Twitter. “Sad to announce death from cancer of my client, dear friend and great talent, Keith Harris,” he wrote.
Harris had his own night show on BBC ” The Keith Harris Show” and had a top 10 hit with Orville’s Song, popularly known as I Wish I Could Fly, in 1982.
Orville was his most famous creation – an innocent green duck in an oversized nappy, who was relentlessly taunted by Harris’s other character, Cuddles the monkey.
The Keith Harris Show ran for eight years from 1982 to 1990, and the entertainer appeared on a total of five Royal, and Children’s Royal Variety Performances.
Media caption Watch the Orville Song At the personal request of Diana, Princess of Wales, Keith gave private performances at Highgrove House for Prince William’s third birthday and then at Kensington Palace for Prince Harry’s third birthday
In the 2000s, he reinvented himself as an X-rated ventriloquist, touring student unions with his adult show, Duck Off.
He appeared in the 2002 documentary When Louis met Keith Harris; and won the Channel Five reality show The Farm in 2005.
But he turned down the chance to appear in Ricky Gervais’s comedy series Extras. “I read the script and thought, ‘This isn’t clever writing, it’s pure filth,'” he told The Independent in 2006. “I turned it down. I’m not desperate.” He continued to appear in pantomime and holiday camps, but was diagnosed with cancer of the spleen in 2013.
After having the spleen removed, he endured four months of chemotherapy and was given the all-clear, allowing him to return to the stage. But last summer, he told an audience in Great Yarmouth the illness had returned and he needed further treatment. He was moved to tears when they gave him a standing ovation. The entertainer leaves behind his fourth wife Sarah, and his children Kitty and Shenton; as well as a daughter, Skye, from his first marriage to singer Jacqui Scott and his mother Lila and brother Colin.