A ventriloquist dummy used by comedian Ronnie Barker in a TV commercial for Sekonda Watches is to be auctioned off.
Barker, who starred in The Two Ronnies, Porridge and Open All Hours, appeared in an advertising campaign for the company, and around 1978 he was filmed alongside a blonde-haired model in a shimmering gold dress.
The campaign used the slogan “Sekonda – a lot of watches for a little money”.
The mannequin is being sold by Paul Baker, whose late father Roland Baker had worked with Sekonda and received the prop after filming was completed.
Mr Baker, a 64-year-old architect from London, said: “The dummy was only ever used for one advertisement.
“The model was made for the production company that filmed the ad and was surplus to production when filming was completed.
“It was given to my father who took it home as a souvenir, where it was then stored in a cupboard for 43 years.
“My parents had two houses, one in Chiswick, west London, the other in Sandbanks in Dorset, which was used as a weekend and holiday home.
“The mannequin was kept in the south coast home where until the 1990s it sat in a wardrobe in a guest bedroom, shocking unsuspecting guests who opened the closet door to discover the figure who was watching.
“In retrospect, it seems like he was probably inspired by Blondie, the American rock singer, but at the time it seemed like just a caricature.”
He said the television commercials were “relatively sophisticated for their period as they were carefully scripted like comedy sketches”.
“Both the Saatchi brothers and photographer David Bailey have been involved at one time or another in the production of Sekonda’s advertisements,” Mr Baker said.
Cheffins in Cambridge”>
“Ronnie Barker was central to their 1970s campaign, appearing in a number of memorable commercials where he would take on different personas in the same commercial.”
Mr Baker inherited the model from his father, who died last year.
Roland Baker was CEO of Global Watches from 1966 to 1988, and one of his brands was Sekonda Watches.
Ronnie Barker died in 2005.
The mannequin is auctioned by Cheffins in Cambridge as part of The Art and Design Sale on May 26 and has a presale estimate of £400-£600.
It comes with a vintage Sekonda catalog featuring Barker and the model on the cover.