Quiz host Bob Holness dies
Friday 06 January 2012
Bob Holness, best known as the genial host of hit quiz Blockbusters, died today aged 83.
His family said he "passed away peacefully in his sleep".
Holness, who suffered a number of strokes and had been in a nursing home, leaves his wife Mary, three children and seven grandchildren.
His family said: "Iconic television host and broadcaster Bob Holness passed away peacefully in his sleep during the early hours of the morning, aged 83, after his health deteriorated following a number of minor strokes over the past few years.
"Although Bob will be best remembered for being the host of the cult television programme Blockbusters, it should be mentioned Bob was also an accomplished theatre actor and his radio broadcasting career spanned over six decades.
"The famous Pinner resident was beloved by students everywhere for his catchphrase 'I'll have a P, please, Bob'."
Holness was born in Natal, South Africa, but grew up in Kent after his family moved back to England.
He returned to South Africa as a young man to begin a career as an actor and broadcaster that saw him star in radio plays, including one where he played an early version of superspy James Bond.
In a 2008 interview, he told the BBC: "Well, that just came up through a hole in the floor. I was doing lots of radio plays at the time but I wanted to do something a bit different so when James Bond came up I ventured in and said yes. I had never even heard of him at the time but it became an amazing part to play and the response from listeners was terrific."
He returned to England in 1961 and became a familiar face on television, but it was roles as chairman of BBC1's Call My Bluff and host of Blockbusters that made him a household name.
The quiz, which ended in 1993, featured student contestants answering a series of trivia questions based on the letters of the alphabet.
A regular feature of the show saw Holness trying to keep a straight face despite facing sniggering students asking him: "Can I have a P please Bob?" - a question he claimed never to be fed up with hearing.
He said: "People say 'Don't you ever get fed up with it?' but I didn't. I loved everything to do with the show so it always got a very positive reception from me, however many times I heard it."
The arrival of dance drug Ecstasy on the rave scene also saw Holness regularly asked for an E by his student contestants.
One mark of his popularity was the widespread urban myth, believed by many, that he played the trademark saxophone solo on the Gerry Rafferty hit Baker Street.
It is believed to have been started as a spoof by journalist Stuart Maconie in music paper NME in 1990.
Earlier today, Maconie tweeted: "Genuinely sad about Bob H. And now off for a run with phone switched off."
DJ Steve Allen, who worked with Holness on LBC where he presented the breakfast show, said he was "the consummate professional".
He said: "He was the man who put his suit on for the breakfast show. You smelt his aftershave before you saw him in the building, he was one of those sort of people. He was absolutely charming. No-one would ever deny he was the perfect radio host. I was with him for many, many years at LBC. He was just one of the nicest men. It's terribly sad. Much, much missed and much love to Mary his wife and the rest of the family."
- 1 If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
- 2 David De Gea: Manchester United goalkeeper's £29m move to Real Madrid off - because paperwork 'not done in time'
- 3 More than 11,000 Icelanders offer to house Syrian refugees to help European crisis
- 4 Pansexual: What is it - and when did the term gain popularity?
- 5 New Apple TV release date and price: streaming box and games console will launch in October
Bono's group has made more money from Facebook investment than from all his music
Miley Cyrus calls out hypocrisy of women’s nipples being taboo
Auschwitz museum defends mist showers installed during heat wave after visitor complains they are reminiscent of gas chambers
Nazi 'gold train': Fire engulfs suspected location of vehicle in Poland
A Chinese journalist has appeared on state television 'confessing' to causing the stock market chaos
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
Tony Blair attacks Jeremy Corbyn's 'Alice In Wonderland' politics
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
UN investigating British Government over human rights abuses caused by IDS welfare reforms
£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Internal Recruiter (manufact...
£50000 - £55000 per annum + 25 days holidays & benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Man...
£40000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This software company specialis...
£28000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: A successful organisation...