Broadcaster and sometime actor Bob Holness has died at the age of 83.
Best known to many as the presenter of long-running ITV quiz show Blockbusters, Holness enjoyed a television and radio career that spanned more than six decades.
According to a statement issued by his family, Holness “died peacefully in his sleep early this morning”.
Born in South Africa, Holness began his broadcasting career there as a radio presenter, and in 1957 famously became only the second actor to play James Bond, in a radio adaptation of Ian Fleming’s Moonraker.
Holness moved to Britain and joined the BBC as a radio DJ in the 1960s, presenting Late Night Extra on Radio 1 and Radio 2, alongside such names as Terry Wogan and Michael Parkinson.
Holness’s vocal talents also came in useful elsewhere – between 1971 and 1982 he was the announcer on popular game show The Generation Game, as well as the voice of the Butterkist popcorn adverts.
Holness moved to commercial station LBC in 1975 to co-host with Douglas Cameron, where they twice won the Joint Independent Radio Personality of the Year award.
Meanwhile, Holness’s television career had also begun to take off. In 1961 he became the host of Thames Television’s game show Take a Letter – but it was in 1983 that he landed the presenting role for which he would become best known, garnering a cult following fronting student quiz Blockbusters, which he presented until 1994.
Known for his sense of humour, Holness was quick to give credence to a widely accepted, but false, rumour – started by then NME journalist Stuart Maconie – that he had performed the saxophone solo on Gerry Rafferty’s 1978 hit Baker Street. It seems to have inspired him as he subsequently claimed he had played the guitar solo on Derek and the Dominoes’ Layla.
In recent years, Holness’s health deteriorated as he suffered several strokes. He is survived by his wife Mary, three children and seven grandchildren.
Bob Holness can be seen in Blockbusters from 7pm weekdays on Challenge TV