Richard Whiteley, 'the ideal TV man', gets a Yorkshire send-off

At times struggling to retain her composure, Ms Vorderman said: "We loved him not because he was smooth but because he wore truly bad jackets, deafening ties and told jokes that were so bad, jokes only he could tell."

Many of the congregation took their sartorial cue from the former Yorkshire TV presenter - who died in June, aged 61 - wearing loud jackets and ties in his honour. Ordinary members of the public came out in force for someone who had been a reassuring presence every afternoon since the quiz show he hosted became the first programme to be broadcast on Channel 4 in 1982. Among the celebrities present were the opera singer Lesley Garrett, Alan Whicker and the comedian Jo Brand.

Ms Vorderman lavished heartfelt praise on her former colleague. "He was the best company you could possibly wish for. When you were with him, every time you were with him, you laughed," she said.

"Richard loved every moment of his life, which he lived to the full. He loved every second he was on Countdown - he knew he was lucky, most of us don't. His Countdown and TV family loved him and he really loved us."

Whiteley's niece, Georgina Stewart, said her uncle was "irreplaceable". She said: "He was scared of death - he had not finished the business of living." The former ITN chairman Sir Paul Fox said the presenter was a "happy man" who had "an old-fashioned view" of life. "He believed in traditional virtues. He was a man of the people, he was never high-handed, he was often too modest about his achievements," said Sir Paul.

Alan Whicker, who worked alongside him in the 1960s at Yorkshire Television, called him "the ideal TV man".

Ms Garrett, who was born in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, said she was deeply saddened but saw the service as an opportunity to celebrate a friend, who gave her a helping hand when she started out. "He was a champion of all things Yorkshire. I owe a great deal of gratitude to Richard as an aspiring singer. He got me on [the Yorkshire TV programme] Calendar. He is going to be sorely missed. He means everything to Carol and his family."

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