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Ventriloquist's figure - Jimmie. Vent doll made by Len Insull, 1946.
  • Jimmie. Vent doll made by Len Insull, 1946.
    Insull, Len, born 1883 - died 1974
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Jimmie. Vent doll made by Len Insull, 1946.

  • Object:

    Ventriloquist's figure

  • Date:


  • Artist/Maker:

    Insull, Len, born 1883 - died 1974

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted papier-mâché, carved wood and fabric.

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Philip Schofield

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Physical description

Vent doll in the shape of a schoolboy with a beige pink painted face and darker pink painted cheeks and red lips; black leather eyebrows; blue glass eyes and a brown curly wig, dressed in grey flannel trousers, burgundy jacket, a cream shirt and a navy blue tie with a repeating white motif of an eagle in flight. His lower leg is covered with an oatmeal-coloured hessian style fabric and he wears papier maché shoes, painted in gloss finish black paint.




Insull, Len, born 1883 - died 1974

Materials and Techniques

Painted papier-mâché, carved wood and fabric.


Height: 112 cm Top of head to the soles of the shoes, Width: 48 cm Across the shoulders

Object history note

This was the second vent figure that Philip Schofield bought in 1946 from the well known craftsman and vent figure maker Len Insull, who made the famous Archie Andrews for Lionel Brough. Philip Schofield's original Jimmie vent figure was lost in luggage that year when sent to travel ahead.

Philip Schofield was one of the first ventriloquists to work in the radio, when he used Jimmy on the northern Children's Hour, broadcast from Manchester. He was also the first ventriloquist to work on television, at the Lime Grove Studios, and the figure travelled with him when Mr. Schofield served as a chaplain in the Royal Air Force, and entertained troops in Aden, Singapore, German, Holland, Belgium, the USA and Somalia. At some time during its career with Philip Schofield he repainted the face and replaced the hair, due to wear and tear.

Descriptive line

'Jimmie' - ventriloquist's vent doll or dummy made in 1946 by Len Insull (1883-1974) and used by the Reverend Philip Schofield on the radio and television, in the wartime to entertain the troops, and in his ministry.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Article by Philip Schofield: 'A figure of fun', in the magazine 'Ventriloquism' ( date unknown)

Production Note

Attribution note: Vent figures by Len Insull are said to have defined the art of the vent figure in Great Britain for many years with their whimsical 'cheeky boy' design, setting the standards for fine leather work on the moving mouth and eyelids. This figure has all the available movements of a so-called 'No.2 Head' that Insull made for Lewis Davenport's shop - moving upper/lower lipraising eyebrows; moving eyeballs, winking/blinking eyelids, and flapping ears.


Papier mâche; Paint; Wool; Cotton; Synthetic hair; Leather


Painted; Moulded; Sewn


Ventriloquism; Puppetry

Production Type



Theatre and Performance Collection

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