The Ronn Lucas Show (ITV, 1990-1991)
Do you remember the days when there used to be ventriloquism on the TV? It was great. It would usually consist of someone coming on stage with a suitcase and a chair. They would then do a routine that went “get back in the box”, “I don’t want to get back in the box”, “get back in the box”, “I don’t want to get back in the box”, and they would essentially have an argument with themselves right in front of everyone, which would often be very amusing.
One ventriloquist who I remember used to be on TV when I was younger was Ronn Lucas (yes, with two “N”s). He was American and first appeared on TV in the early-80s. He did have a few puppet characters that he could make talk, the most famous of these was Scorch The Dragon, and as well has having something of an attitude, he was best known for being able to shoot fire out of his nose.
By the mid-80s he made a few appearances on British TV, including The Bob Monkhouse Show in 1985, The Paul Daniels Magic Show in 1986, and The Royal Variety Performance in 1987. He then went on to host The Hippodrome Show in 1989, which came from the London theatre and featured lots of variety acts. By this point, he became popular enough with viewers to get his own half-hour show on ITV that launched in 1990.
The Ronn Lucas Show would not only feature his characters taking part in various sketches, but also some of the biggest names on the international nightclub circuit and alternative cabaret scene, and a wide variety of entertaining acts appeared, including acrobats, dancers and so on (future Tricks And Tracks host Paul Zenon also performed some of his magic tricks).
Lucas and Scorch would take part in some comedy sketches with comedian and impressionist Peter Piper (I get the feeling that’s not his real name), and there would also be a musical act who would perform one of their songs including Whitney Houston, Kim Appleby, Bananarama (they performed their hit single “Preacher Man”), and, er, Wee Papa Girl Rappers.
Lucas would often end the show by doing a routine featuring one of his other characters, Buffalo Billy the wise-talking cowboy. In 1991, the show would return with more of the same, but after this, Lucas wasn’t seen much more on British TV, seemingly having quickly gone out of fashion. Although it’s more likely that he didn’t return because the early-90s was the last gasp of this type of old-school variety show on TV (the only similar show that I can remember on ITV after this ended was The Magic Comedy Strip in 1992). Scorch also had a short-lived spin-off show in America in 1992.
There’s no doubt that he had talent though, and I wondered what he was up to nowadays. It seems that four decades on he’s still out there, although unfortunately his act is now rather outmoded for TV, and you are more likely to see him doing his routines with his characters in cabaret and on cruise ships. I do hope that he is still good friends with Scorch.