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Crowther, Leslie (1933-1996)

Actor, Presenter

Main image of Crowther, Leslie (1933-1996)

Whether triggering near hysteria with his The Price is Right catchphrase 'Come on down!', or eliciting youthful cries of 'Crackerjack!', on the long-running children's show of the same name, game-show host and actor Leslie Crowther's natural, relaxed style with audiences made him a household favourite during a long television career.

Born in West Bridgford, Nottingham, in 1933 he moved to London in his teens where he went to the Cone-Ripman Drama School. He spent the 1950s establishing his TV credentials, making his mark as a presenter on BBC programmes such as The Billy Cotton Band Show (BBC, 1956-65), The Black and White Minstrel Show (BBC, 1958-78) and the hit children's variety show Crackerjack (BBC, 1960-68). By the end of the 1960s he was mixing TV and radio work with stints in theatre productions.

His switch to ITV in the 1970s saw him in a string of successful variety shows, among them Crowther's in Town (1970) and The Leslie Crowther Show (1971), as well as two sitcoms, My Good Woman (1972-73) and Big Boy Now (1976). He demonstrated his skill as an all-round entertainer alongside Bernie Winters in the acclaimed tribute to Flanagan and Allen, Bud 'n' Ches (ITV, tx. 16/6/1981).

His natural empathy with audiences made Crowther the perfect compère for The Price is Right (ITV, 1984-88), whose appeal was based largely on the unpredictable reactions of unsuspecting members of the audience as he urged them to 'come on down!' He went on to present the celebrity-impersonation show Stars in Their Eyes (ITV, 1990-2006) while continuing to work in pantomime and supporting charities, including a stint as president of the Lord's Taverners.

He ran the gauntlet of media intrusion with his battle against alcoholism, which he overcame in the late 1980s. In 1992 his career was virtually ended by a near-fatal road accident that left him in a coma. He was awarded a CBE for his charity works and appeared in a second This is Your Life in 1994 (the first one was in 1973). He died of heart failure in 1996. His daughter Liz Crowther became an actress, while another daughter, Caroline married Thin Lizzy singer Phil Lynott.

Eddie Dyja

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Selected credits

Thumbnail image of Black and White Minstrel Show, The (1958-78)Black and White Minstrel Show, The (1958-78)

Notorious variety show that ran for an astonishing 20 years

Thumbnail image of Crackerjack (1955-84)Crackerjack (1955-84)

BBC children's variety series, featuring comedy, music and games

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