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21-Jul-2017 15:35

As a Border executive, Batey saw the company flourish in the 1980s, when the newly launched Channel 4 commissioned series such as Land of the Lakes (1983), presented by Melvyn Bragg, and the pop music show Bliss (1985-86), and ITV screened its children's productions.The years following Batey's 1988 retirement eventually saw the demise of regional television.He then worked as an accountant for a firm of agricultural merchants in the Lake District village of Caldbeck while performing as a ventriloquist in clubs.

Occasionally, from 1974, the networked show was made by another ITV company, HTV, and hosted by Alan Taylor.The show attracted up to 11 million viewers nationally – and Batey even developed a stage version.Mr & Mrs, which was affectionately satirised in a Stanley Baxter television sketch, made him a star.He attended White House School, Brampton, and enjoyed weekly trips to Her Majesty's Theatre, Carlisle to see comedians such as Robb Wilton and Arthur Askey.

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At the age of 12, keen to perform himself, he bought a "cheeky boy" ventriloquist's doll for three guineas (three pounds and three shillings), called it Alfie and enjoyed performing to raise funds for wartime charities.

In 1966, having already been made production manager, he was appointed Border's assistant programme controller, in charge of production. Alongside his work on Mr & Mrs, Batey was host and producer of the networked chat-show Look Who's Talking (1973-85), attracting stars such as Anna Neagle to Border's far-flung studios in Carlisle for his gentle line in questioning.