Chris Howland: Broadcaster, singer and actor who left Britain and found lasting fame on German TV and radio

 

Chris Howland was an entertainer who was all but unknown in his native Britain but who became a star in Germany. He made his name both as a television and radio presenter, as well as acting in German comedy films.

He was born in London in 1928 and initially became a beekeeper before, at the age of 20, finding a job in Germany working for the British Forces Broadcasting Service. The network’s programmes were popular among young Germans who would rather listen to British music than the comparatively staid contemporary domestic fare and Howland soon made a name beyond BFBS’s target audience.

In 1952, by which time he could speak German fluently, he was hired by Nordwestdeutscher Rundfunk as a presenter, and in 1958 embarked on a singing career, twice making the German charts. But in 1959 he returned to Britain, working with Bill Grundy on the Granada programme People and Places.

Deciding that he was more popular in Germany, however, Howland returned to front a show called Studio B, which mixed pop music and comedy, and followed that by presenting the German version of Candid Camera. By then he was well into an acting career that had begun in 1954 and went on to include roles in more than 20 films, mainly adventures, and comedy films much in the manner of “Carry On” films.

Howland lived outside Cologne and in recent years had worked again as a radio presenter while also appearing occasionally as an actor or presenter on television. In 2009 he published a well-received memoir Yes, Sir.

John Christopher Howland, entertainer: born London 30 July 1928; married four times (three children); died Rösrath, North Rhine-Westphalia 29 November 2013.

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