Bernie Clifton auditions on opening episode of The Voice

Legendary comic jokes there's "not much work about for elderly ostrich jockeys"

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Legendary comic Bernie Clifton auditions on the opening episode of The Voice tonight. He performs The Impossible Dream for new-look coaching line-up Paloma Faith, Boy George, will.i.am and Ricky Wilson, in the hope one or more will spin their chair for him.

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Bernie, who’ll be 80 this April, jokes that there’s “not much work about for elderly ostrich jockeys” as he embarks on a solo singing career. “Pipe and slippers are not for me,” he teases.

Long-time host at the Batley Variety Club, Clifton rose to fame after bagging a slot on BBC series Crackerjack with Michael Aspel, Peter Glaze, Don Maclean and Jan Hunt in the 1970s. But it’s the comedy gigs during which he ran amok ‘aboard’ Oswald the Ostrich which put him firmly him in the spotlight. He went on to perform at the 1979 Royal Variety Performance where, according to his website, the Queen was said to have been “crying with laughter”.

Clifton cites Les Dawson as his inspiration, specifically in the area of visual comedy. He also starred alongside Peter Kay in the video for chart-topper Amarillo and is often to be found playing trombone for the England Football Band.

See him in action:

While you’ll have to wait until tonight’s episode to see whether any of the coaches turn – and thus want him on their team – we can reveal that Ricky Wilson is delighted to see Clifton audition. He even hops up on stage to get a lesson in riding Oswald the Ostrich, whom Clifton later appears on, stopping for a quick photo. Clifton jokes that he and the Kaiser Chiefs frontman could team up, although laughs he’d make Wilson do all of the work.

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The Voice returns tonight at 7:30pm on BBC1

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