1 9 5 7 – 1 9 6 0 (UK)
Lenny The Lion and his ventriloquist partner Terry Hall were amongst the most popular characters of early British children’s television.
Hall was one of the first ventriloquists to use an animal rather than a little (wooden) boy as his dummy and Lenny was also one of the first to be given the ability to move his arms (he was prone to burying his head in embarrassment).
One of Lenny’s endearing qualities was his inability to pwonounce his ‘R’s.
The idea for Lenny came to Terry Hall while he was watching a particularly languid lion at Blackpool Zoo. Singer Anne Shelton (who was appearing with Hall at the time) suggested the voice, and the first puppet was made by a Madame Tussaud’s employee in 1954. Incredibly, in the ensuing four decades, there were only ever two puppets.
Apart from the original series, there was Lenny’s Den from 1959-61, and Pops and Lenny from 1962-63 which featured an early appearance by The Beatles.
Terry Hall suffered from Alzheimer’s disease in later life and died in 2007 in Coventry aged 80.
Lenny the Lion
Bert Hayes Sextet