Los Angeles: Ken Barrie, the voice of children’s TV favourite Postman Pat, has died at the age of 83.
Barrie, who was born Leslie Hulme in Stoke-on-Trent, provided the voice for Pat and many of the other characters in the animated series. He also famously sang the show’s theme tune, which was released as a single and spent 15 weeks in the top 75. His daughter Lorraine Hulme Peterson said he died at his home in Uxbridge, London, after a battle with cancer.
She told BBC News her father, who had a singing career with Embassy Records under the name of Les Carle, was “a master of different character voices” who also found success providing voiceovers for films and television adverts.
His talents saw him appear on an album with Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby, provide backing vocals on Top of the Pops for the likes of David Essex and overdub the voices of Larry Hagman, George C Scott and Horst Bucholz.
He gave his voice to adverts, including one for Martini, which starred his idol Frank Sinatra, and a particularly memorable turn as a collection of robots promoting instant mashed potato product, Smash.
Barrie stopped using the name Les Carle when a friend told him it was French for The Charlie and instead took a moniker from combining the first names of his wife’s brothers.
He took up his most famous role as the voice of Pat in 1981. The stop-motion animated show, created by John Cunliffe and directed by Ivor Wood, was about the adventures of a postman in and around the fictional valley of Greendale, a location inspired by Longsleddale in Cumbria.
Barrie was the narrator of the original 13-episode series and also supplied voices for famous characters such as handyman Ted Glen, the Reverend Peter Timms and farmer Alf Thompson.
He reprised his role in the 1990s when a second series was made and in a rebooted version of the show which began in 2004 before handing over the voice of Pat to actor Lewis MacLeod.
His daughter said that while he was not someone who liked the idea of “being bombarded for autographs, it was lovely to see when children realised who he was”. “He’d do the voice and they’d be gobsmacked,” she said.
He also provided the soundtrack for the 1987 animation Charlie Chalk, sang the theme tune for the sitcom Hi-De-Hi and later topped the charts as part of Peter Kay’s Animated All Star Band on the Official BBC Children in Need Medley in 2009.
His daughter said he was “most proud of the fact he looked after his family well”. “He was always a very reserved character who just saw it as a job. He was approached to be managed and go a lot bigger in the early days but he chose to decline because he wanted to be there at home.
“His legacy is not so much Postman Pat, he did a lot more and he loved singing after starting in the late 1950s.”