Hughie Green, TV legend, dies at 77

Hughie Green, one of the first icons of British popular television culture, died of cancer in a London hospital yesterday, at the age of 77. His two most popular programmes, Double Your Money, a quiz show, and Opportunity Knocks, a showcase for new talent, regularly drew audiences of more than 22 million throughout most of the Sixties and Seventies.

His close friend and companion, Christina Sharples, who was at his bedside in the Royal Marsden Hospital when he died yesterday morning, spoke to the Independent on Sunday of the veteran broadcaster's final days. "He just fought that last battle very bravely and we are all so proud of him," said Mrs Sharples.

"He never let on to anybody that he was ill and he was in good spirits until the end. We had hoped that he had kicked the cancer out. He had been so brave for the last six months trying to kick it and we thought that he had won until a few days ago.

"He discharged himself from hospital on Thursday but collapsed at home and went back into hospital with a chest infection and just went down from there but, mercifully, he did die peacefully", she said.

Mr Green's son Christopher postponed his wedding and flew from Canada to be at his dying father's bedside.

Montreal-born Hughie Green began as a child actor in Hollywood in 1935 but his show business career in Britain took off with the launch of commercial television in 1955.

His game show Double Your Money, which boasted a pounds 1,000 top prize, was the first of its kind in Britain and caused a sensation.

It became a major success for the fledgling ITV network and ensured maximum celebrity status for its star, whose broad mid-Atlantic accent and brash presentation shocked viewers who had only known the more formal BBC approach to programme-making.

Hughie Green's other hit show, Opportunity Knocks, was the vehicle that launched the careers of a host of famous entertainers including, Les Dawson, Freddie Starr and Frank Carson.