Ventriloquist Steve Hewlett is used to talking to little animated characters on his knee.

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But the man who starred in Cromer Pier’s summer season now has a real one, with the birth of his daughter Lola-Mae - and different sorts of dummies to deal with.

Steve has done two summer and one Christmas seasons at the venue, and three festive shows at Thursford, with a range of characters from the famous “radio dummy” Archie Andrews and pensioner Arthur Lager to Pongo the skunk and schoolgirl Tina Tina.

His own little girl Lola-Mae made her entrance, weighing 9lb, on October 4 just after the curtain came down on the summer season’s extra weekend at Felixstowe, following a nervous late run at Cromer.

“We finished on the Saturday, and the contractions began on Sunday,” explained Steve.

His wife Nina was born in Gayton in West Norfolk, where her father Barry ran a flooring business and uncle Brian still has a haulage company.

Steve met Nina on the showbiz circuit when she was a dancer 11 years ago, They moved to Eastbourne where she worked in the Monsoon fashion shop for six years before becoming Steve’s personal assistant and business partner as well keeping up her showbiz life as a singer.

They hatched Lola-Mae’s name while relaxing on a beach in the Caribbean with Lola already in the short list, and supplemented by Nina’s Norfolk gran’s name.

Steve has ensured his working commitments for the coming year do not involve any long seasons so he can spend time with his daughter “which is important in the first couple of years,” he said.

His work is a combination of one-off variety shows, a new series of ventriloquism lectures and writing a book about 100 years of the profession.

And Lola-Mae is already providing material for Steve - and his fans.

He has added an ante-natal routine to his act in which he vents a ‘let me out’ cry from an unborn baby.

“I've had the odd comment when I'm holding her not to put my hand up her back,” he added.

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