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Doris Evelyn Baugh - Dolly Allen

Black Country comedian, singer and performer.

Doris was born Doris Evelyn Baugh on 9 April 9, 1906, at Wordsley Workhouse in the West Midlands. 

By all accounts she was a talented performer from an early age, entertaining other children and eventually taking 

the stage where, throughout her life, she always found a way to make her audience laugh.

Dolly came to wider attention in 1975 at the age of 69 when she performed in A Black Country Night Out. She made

television and radio appearances and continued to perform in venues around the Black Country, wider UK and abroad.

She appeared on several comedy albums with the group and had her own solo release in 1978. Dolly was recognised

with her own blue plaque for her contributions to entertainment by Dudley Council in 2008.

Her mother was a brickyard labourer who died ten days after the birth. Renamed Dorothy by her adoptive parents

William and Elizabeth Parker, Dolly grew up in the nearby town of Halesowen.

Dolly later said that she loved performing from a young age, and as a child would dance in the street for travelling 

hurdy-gurdists. She would also entertain and sing to her friends, and she said that school staff would sometimes pay

her a penny to sing to the other children. She later realised instead that she would "like to be funny".

While working at Hackett Brothers' Nut and Bolt Works in Halesowen, Dolly met Leonard Allen, and in 1926 the pair

wed at Stourbridge Register Office. The first comedy routine that Dolly performed was in front of Hackett Brothers

workers at their 1944 Christmas party.

Dolly performed her comedy routine from the 1950s, through the 1960s and 1970s at shows and in clubs around the

Black Country area of the UK, while continuing to work as a cleaner after leaving Hackett Brothers. In 1975, when Dolly

was 69, local promoter and host of A Black Country Night Out comedy show Ray Hingley invited her to join the show.

An "instant hit" and a "big part" of the show, Dolly appeared with the group at venues over the next few years.

Television and radio appearances followed, and Dolly performed on three comedy albums with the Black Country

Night Out team from 1976 to 1978.[5] Dolly also continued to perform in pubs and clubs as a solo act, and in 1978

recorded a self-titled solo comedy album. That year, she also toured Spanish Black Country expatriate communities

with A Black Country Night Out.

Dolly was described by herself and others as shy when not on-stage, and the stories she told often featured her sister Fanny rather than herself. Ray Hingley said of her, "Off-stage Dolly was a quiet person. She used to sit in silence in my car on the way to shows—and would never tell us how old she was."

Dolly's opening catchphrase of "Hello, my luvvers" was just one part of her distinctive act. She also performed wearing a threadbare hat with a turkey feather sticking out the top. Dolly said she had performed in it since the 1950s after being gifted it by a friend; the hat had belonged to the friend's mother-in-law, who had recently died. Dolly obtained the feather from a turkey at a workplace social night and added it to the hat herself.

With her "doleful expression" and "deadpan, timeless" delivery, Dolly was described as "the funniest woman in the Black Country—a teller of stories that reflect the rather macabre humour Black Country folk find in the unlikeliest situations".

The tradition of female Black Country comedians has continued since the passing of Dolly and today’s audiences will find happiness continues with Marlene Watson (The Black Country Wench) and ‘Doreen from Tipton ‘ .

Black Country Society

West Midlands, UK

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