Saturday, 26 April 2008

We'll Never See His Like Again


Like most devotees of BBC Radio Four's 'I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue', yesterday was the day we were dreading. Presenter, broadcasting and jazz legend Humphrey Lyttelton died on Friday after he had been admitted to hospital last week for surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm. Humph was 86 and at that age you realise people can't go on for ever - but in Humph's case we all hoped he would.
The host of quite simply the funniest show on radio - and has been since 1972 - is an icon. The BBC's Mark Thomson said Humph's gifts were his warmth and conviviality, his wit, his mischievousness. All traits lapped up by an adoring and loyal audience. His monologues at the beginning of each show were legendary.

"I still remember Nanny pulling down my trousers and giving me a good spanking. Never did me any harm. Although it did make me late this evening." That was typical Humph.

His fellow ISIHAC regulars - Barry Cryer, Graeme Garden and Tim Brooke Taylor - will be devasted at the news of his passing. The ISIHAC team - not that Humph would call them that - was in the middle of touring the country with the stage version. The show was in Edinburgh last month but as I didn't know about it until the last minute I couldn't go - all the tickets had long been sold in any case.

I read in the BBC's obituary that Humph once turned down the offer of a knighthood. My already considerable admiration for the man increased even more when I read that.

Humph will be looking down wondering what all the fuss is about. With a wry smile he'll no doubt be contemplating that 'Samantha' will be looking forward to getting her hands on a stiff...

We will never see his like again.

1 comment:

Colin Campbell said...

Not having lived in Scotland since the mid 1980s, I only really knew him as the presenter of The Best of Jazz. He had the greatest voice, up there with John Arlott.

Review: Sweet F.A.

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