Percy Edwards, MBE was born in Ipswich (UK) on 1 June 1908. As a child, Edwards was fascinated by the wildlife he found in his local area, and by the age of 12 was accomplished enough at imitating many of them that this became his “party piece”. He debuted in 1930 on the BBC radio series Vaudeville, starting a career that would last throughout his life.
In 1939, he volunteered for service in the Royal Air Force on the outbreak of the Second World War. He was rejected; his day job making ploughs was considered more important than flying, as it was work that could not be carried out by a woman replacement.
Edwards became a household name after his animal imitations in the radio shows ‘Ray’s a Laugh’ with Ted Ray, and playing Psyche the dog in the radio series ‘A Life of Bliss’. At the height of his career he could accurately imitate over 600 birds, as well as many other animals. Among other things, he provided the voices for the killer whales in ‘Orca’ (1977), sheep and bird sounds on Kate Bush’s song The Dreaming (1982), the Reindeer in ‘Santa Claus: The Movie’ (1985) and vocal effects for Ambrosius in ‘Labyrinth’ (1986). Edwards appeared occasionally on BBC TV’s pre-school series ‘Play School’ as a storyteller, in 1967 and from 1973 through 1980. One of his last stage appearances was in the ‘Grand Order of Water Rats’ centenary show at the London Palladium in 1989.
Although he always referred to himself as an entertainer, Edwards was a fellow of the Zoological Society of London, and a respected and published ornithologist. Edwards was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 1993 for services to ornithology and entertainment.
Edwards passed away in Hintlesham, Suffolk (UK) on 7 June 1996.