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Ventriloquist’s dummy used by Ronnie Barker in TV advert to be sold at auction

By Sam Russell

A ventriloquist’s dummy used by comedy star Ronnie Barker in a TV advert for Sekonda Watches is to be sold at auction.

Barker, who starred in The Two Ronnies, Porridge and Open All Hours, appeared in an advertising campaign for the firm, and in around 1978 he was filmed alongside a blonde-haired dummy in a glitzy gold dress.

The campaign used the slogan “Sekonda – a lot of watch for a little money”.

The dummy is being sold by Paul Baker, whose late father Roland Baker had worked with Sekonda and was given the prop once filming was finished.

The ventriloquist’s dummy is being sold together with a period Sekonda catalogue featuring Ronnie Barker and the dummy on the cover. (Cheffins/ PA)

Mr Baker, a 64-year-old architect from London, said: “The dummy was only ever used for the one commercial.

“The dummy was made for the production company that filmed the advert and was surplus to requirements the moment that filming was complete.

“It was offered to my father who took it home as a souvenir, where it was then tucked away into a wardrobe for 43 years.

“My parents had two homes, one in Chiswick, west London, the other in Sandbanks in Dorset that was used as a weekend and holiday home.

“The dummy was kept at the south coast home where, until the 1990s it sat in a wardrobe in a spare bedroom, shocking unsuspecting guests that happened to open the cupboard door to find the figure staring out.

“In retrospect it seems it was probably modelled on Blondie the American rock singer but at that time it seemed to be simply a caricature.”

He said the TV adverts were “relatively sophisticated for their period as they were carefully scripted as comedy sketches”.

“Both Saatchi brothers and the photographer David Bailey were involved at one time or another with the production of Sekonda commercials,” said Mr Baker.

Cheffins in Cambridge">

“Ronnie Barker was central to their 1970s campaigning, appearing in a number of memorable adverts where he would assume different characters in the same advert.”

Mr Baker inherited the dummy from his father, who died last year.

Roland Baker was managing director of Global Watches from 1966 to 1988, and one of its brands was Sekonda Watches.

Ronnie Barker died in 2005.

The dummy is being auctioned by Cheffins in Cambridge as part of The Art and Design Sale on May 26 and has a pre-sale estimate of £400 to £600.

It is being sold together with a period Sekonda catalogue featuring Barker and the dummy on the cover.

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Dive Deeper:
Friday evening UK news briefing: Covid jobs in line of fire in civil service cuts
Also from this evening's Front Page newsletter: Joy for the Queen in first public appearance since March. Sign up below
Tam Cowan: Happy 20th birthday to the only pair of black shiny 'dress shoes' I've worn since 2002
Our columnist, Tam Cowan, on the latest news this week.
‘I fell in love with it in a profound way’: how The Quiet Girl’s fostering story captured its director’s heart
First-time director Colm Bairéad on turning the novella Foster by Claire Keegan into the tear-jerking tour de force that swept…
Where are the cast of The High Life now?
Divorce, death, and Hollywood - the cast of the classic one season show The High Life have had different paths…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Winners crowned at Northern Lincolnshire Business Awards 2022 amid jubilee glee - reaction and galleries
15 accolades presented at Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce bash - don't miss our gallery of the night
Inside comedian Larry Grayson's personal life - from relationships to changes of name
Author Tony Nicholson says Larry Grayson’s complicated personal life, with so many changes of name, and a struggle to find…
Get all your news in one place