Norfolk’s ‘oldest ventriloquist’ is immortalised in new book

Costessey ventriloquist Brian Chamberlain who life has been chartered in a book written by friend De

Costessey ventriloquist Brian Chamberlain who life has been chartered in a book written by friend Derek Firman. Photo: Steve Adams

Meet Brian Chamberlin - who is probably Norfolk's oldest ventriloquist.

Costessey ventriloquist Brian Chamberlin. Pictured: Picture: Supplied

Costessey ventriloquist Brian Chamberlin. Pictured: Picture: Supplied - Credit: Supplied

The Costessey 90-year-old breaks into a cheeky grin as he makes his doll Humphrey the Norfolk mole sing 'Have You Got a Light, Boy?'

And to cap off a successful comedy career - in which he performed for the Queen and was offered a tour by the late Bob Monkhouse - he has had a book written about him.

The biography was penned by Mr Chamberlin's friend Del Firman, who was entertainment manager at a Hemsby holiday park when they first met.

It took Mr Firman more than year to put together The Life and Times of One Brian Chamberlin - Norfolk Comedy Ventriloquist and Entertainer.

Costessey ventriloquist Brian Chamberlin who has had his life story told in a book by friend Derek F

Costessey ventriloquist Brian Chamberlin who has had his life story told in a book by friend Derek Firman. Photo : Steve Adams


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He said it was a 'labour of love', and that Mr Chamberlin's story needed to be told.

'I've just so much respect for the man,' explained Mr Firman. 'I've worked with a lot of people over the years, but I can never remember seeing Brian without a smile on his face.

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'He has always been a joy to be with and we have an off-the-wall sense of humour in common.'

Mr Chamberlin has a range of animal dolls that he brings to life, uses foreign languages as part of his act and has previously won prizes for his bird impersonations.

While some of the entertainment greats that Mr Firman encountered when booking tours could be 'obnoxious', he said of Mr Chamberlin: 'Brian was never like that. I learned from Brian.'

Mr Chamberlin, of Beaumont Road, said he felt honoured by what his friend had done.

'I'm just overwhelmed,' he said. 'I never expected something like it.'

The father-of-six did not become a full-time entertainer until he was in his fifties, but had been honing his art since the age of 11.

His father Eric and mother Olive had been music hall entertainers, and took him to shows as a child.

'I think it was instinctive to go into entertainment, as my father was in showbiz,' said Mr Chamberlin. 'I think I got the bug.'

Mr Chamberlin was taught the basics in ventriloquism by his father.

'He said stand in front of a mirror and go right through the alphabet and try not moving your lips,' he said. 'It was good advice.'

After serving in the Royal Navy during the Second World War he worked as an entertainer in his spare time, holding down jobs ranging from school caretaker to sugar beet farmer.

He turned professional in the 1970s, touring holiday parks and theatres, before entertaining people in residential homes later in his career.

Mr Chamberlin performed for the Queen twice at Dersingham School, near the Sandringham Estate, and performed on the TV talent show Opportunity Knocks when it was hosted by Bob Monkhouse.

Mr Firman said his friend was offered a tour by Bob Monkhouse - but turned it down as he had already agreed to a tour in East Anglia, and did not want to let the organisers down.

A special copy of the book has been presented to Mr Chamberlin, but Mr Firman is seeking more anecdotes before getting more of the books printed to go on sale - call him on 01473 832129 or email derek.firman123@btinternet.com

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