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HELLO PEEPS!; I ISS THE REAL STAVROS.

"Hello, peeps! Iss Stavros here - issa real Stavros innit - not that blinkin' 'Arry Enfield geezer.

"You wanna know somethin' wot is going right through my nostril? Iss those peeps from The Peeps.

"I was jes sitting down with Her-Inside-Of-The-Doors to watch Corporation Street on the telly and all of a suddenness there's a bloke at the door talking a lot of old cobblestones.

"Iss giving me the right Engelbert Humperdinck, so issabout time I set the records up straight and tell you peeps what you wanna know."

It's 10 years since Harry Enfield unleashed Stavros, the Greek-Cypriot kebab seller, on TV's Friday Night Live.

Harry became a household name on the back of the character who cheerfully inflicted GBH on the English language and poked fun at the Establishment.

And he based him on Adamos Athanassiou, who used to run a kebab shop near his old home in Hackney, East London.

But as millions of viewers fell over laughing at his performances, the real-life Stavros was none the wiser that he was the inspiration for Harry's first big hit.

"Issa funny but I was having none of the ideas that 'Arry was doing me on the telly," said Adam, 67, who is now retired and living in Clacton- on-Sea, Essex.

"The first time my kids see Stavros on TV they is hysterics with laughter and saying, 'Dad, this man he talkin jes like you'. So I take a peeps and cor blowing me down it IS blinkin' me on the telly.

"But I didn't realise iss 'Arry and iss not till someone iss telling me iss 'Arry that I'm knowing iss 'im."

Harry was taken to Adam's kebab shop in Well Street by his comic friend Paul Whitehouse, who he shared a flat with on a nearby council estate.

The struggling young comedian had just left university and had landed his first job doing voices for Spitting Image.

"Paul was using the shop every evening and is bringing 'Arry in - but I never knew them by name," said Adam.

"Iss not 'til I'm getting a letter from the pair of them ownering up to putting me on the telly that I know their names.

"But they iss lovely boys, they like my sons and they was always behaving like gents in my shop."

Harry came by Stavros's famous catchphrase just by standing in the queue listening to Adam chatting to his customers.

"I'm always talking with the punters and when anyone come in I use to say, 'Hello everybody, people'," added Adam, who came to Britain in 1952.

"He tells me he loves the way I speak but this the same like I speak when I come from Cyprus all those years ago. Is funny, innit?

"I like talking to the customers. The old grannies they come in and I was saying, 'Hello little girl'. They was loving it.

"One of 'Arry and Paul's mates always use to order his food after them and when I'm asking 'im what he's liking would say, 'Likewise'. So we all call him Likewise from then on."

After Harry shot to fame with Stavros, fans flocked to Adam's little kebab shop.

"Iss crazy, they iss coming from all over the country - even abroad - to be served by the real Stavros.

"I'm getting on very well with the business and I'm opening fetes and the Halifax Building Societies and chatting with the Jonathan Ross show."

Adam and his wife Katina, 67, are now enjoying retirement and looking after their eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

"Iss busy but iss great and I get a card from 'Arry the other day who's just becoming a dad himself," said Adam.

Harry, who lives with his wife Lucy, 33, and their four-month-old son has always been amazed by the astounding success of Stavros.

"Sometimes people accused me of being racist but I never got any complaints from the Greek and Cypriot communities, who loved him," said the 36-year-old star.

"Stavros was a warm character who came across as a wise man making comments on injustices in the world.

"His accent and the way he talked helped us to laugh at the vagaries of the English language."

Stavros wasn't the only character Harry based on his own real-life experiences.

His early days in Hackney provided the inspiration for Wayne and Waynetta Slob, who lived in the flat below him.

And Kevin the Teenager was inspired by Harry himself.

"Nearly all of us go through the Kevin stage. There's nothing to be done about it," he said.
COPYRIGHT 1997 MGN LTD
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Author:Jack, David
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Nov 2, 1997
Words:756
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