Holness in 1989
|Born||Robert Wentworth John Holness
12 November 1928
Vryheid, Natal, South Africa
|Died||6 January 2012
Pinner, London, England, UK
|Education||Ashford Grammar School|
|Alma mater||Maidstone College of Art|
|Occupation||Television and radio presenter|
|Home town||Ashford, Kent, U.K.|
|Television||Take a Letter,
Raise the Roof,
Call My Bluff
|Spouse(s)||Mary Holness (1955-2012; his death)|
Robert Wentworth John Holness (12 November 1928 – 6 January 2012) was a British radio and television presenter. He is remembered as the presenter of the British version of Blockbusters.
Holness was born in Vryheid, Natal, South Africa. When he was seven, his family moved to the UK, initially to Herne Bay, Kent where his grandfather Nathaniel was brought up, then later to Ashford, Kent. After attending Ashford Grammar School (now The Norton Knatchbull School) and briefly Eastbourne College he went on to Maidstone College of Art. He then worked for a printing company before returning to South Africa. In 1955, he received his first job as a radio presenter. He also married in 1955, to Mary, whom he met in South Africa. In 1956 he played James Bond in a radio production of Moonraker. The couple returned to the UK in 1961. His daughter, Ros, was a member of the band Toto Coelo.
Holness joined the BBC as a presenter on Late Night Extra, initially on the BBC Light Programme and later on BBC Radio 1 and 2, presenting alongside Terry Wogan, Michael Parkinson and Keith Fordyce. From 1971, the show was broadcast solely on Radio 2. Between 1975 and 1985, he was co-presenter with Douglas Cameron of the breakfast-time AM Programme on London's LBC radio station. He originally joined the station as an airborne traffic reporter. He won the Variety Club Award for 'Joint Independent Radio Personality of the Year' in both 1979 and 1984.
Between 1985-97, he returned to Radio 2, presenting many shows including Bob Holness Requests the Pleasure and Bob Holness and Friends, as well as covering various weekday shows for holidaying presenters. From the late 1960s Until 1998, he also presented the request programme Anything Goes on the BBC World Service.
Holness was the subject of an urban myth, claimed to have been initiated in the 1980s by broadcaster Stuart Maconie who, writing for the New Musical Express in a section called 'Believe It Or Not', said that Holness had played the saxophone riff on Gerry Rafferty's 1978 song "Baker Street". (The actual performer was Raphael Ravenscroft.) Tommy Boyd, among others, has disputed Maconie's claim to authorship of the rumour. The story clearly appealed to Holness' sense of humour as he often played along with the myth, and also at various times jokingly claimed to be the lead guitarist on Derek and the Dominoes' "Layla", and the mysterious individual putting Elvis Presley off his stride on the 'laughing' version of "Are You Lonesome Tonight?"
In 1962, Holness became the host of UK game show Take a Letter, was relief host of Thames Television's magazine programme Today in 1968, and from 1983 until 1994 presented the British version of Blockbusters, for which he is best known. In 1995, he hosted Yorkshire Television's big-budget game show flop Raise the Roof before becoming the chairman of a revived Call My Bluff for the BBC. Holness appeared on one episode of Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway in 2004, when he presented the last round of Ant and Dec's Blockbusters, with Ant as a contestant.
Personal life, illness and death
Holness gave his support to many charities, including the children's charities Teenage Cancer Trust, Young People's Trust for the Environment and National Children's Home (now Action for Children), of which he was vice-President from 1994.
On 24 November 2002, he suffered a major stroke, following which a brain scan revealed he had previously suffered a number of transient ischaemic attacks over several years. He also suffered from hearing loss, and began to use a hearing aid in 2003. He was diagnosed with coeliac disease in 2005. In the last few years of his life he suffered from vascular dementia and lived in a nursing home.
His family announced on 6 January 2012 that he had died earlier that day, in his sleep, aged 83. He is survived by his wife Mary, as well as their three children, Carol, Ros and Jon, and seven grandchildren; Sam, Tom, Arthur, Theo, Rylan, Cassian and Lily.
- "Obituary: Bob Holness, unflappable and always dapper host of student daytime quiz favourite Blockbusters - Obituaries". Scotsman.com. 9 January 2012. Retrieved 2012-06-13.
- Dennis Barker (6 January 2012). "Bob Holness obituary | Television & radio". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-06-13.
- "Bob Holness". Telegraph. 6 January 2012. Retrieved 2012-06-13.
- Obituary, The Times p78. 7 January 2012
- "BBC News - Bob Holness, former Blockbusters host, dies aged 83". Bbc.co.uk. 6 January 2012. Retrieved 2012-06-13.
- Lester, Paul (5 January 2011). "Gerry Rafferty's Baker Street: Booze, promiscuity and punk spirit | Music | guardian.co.uk". Guardian. Retrieved 2012-06-13.
- "Comedy Blog: HIGNFY Guest interview: Stuart Maconie". BBC. 23 May 2009. Retrieved 2012-06-13.
- Maconie, Stuart (2004). Cider With Roadies (1st ed.). London: Random House. p. 256. ISBN 0-09-189115-9.
- "BBC News - Why do we think Bob Holness was the Baker Street saxophonist?". bbc.co.uk. 5 January 2011. Retrieved 2012-06-13.
- Dennis Barker. "Bob Holness obituary | Television & radio". The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-07-23.
- Petty, Moira (22 February 2007). "Bob Holness had ninety mini strokes and then he was hit by the big one | Mail Online". Dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-06-13.
- "BBC News - Obituary: Bob Holness". bbc.co.uk. 6 January 2012. Retrieved 2012-06-13.
- "Bob Holness dies peacefully aged 83 - Communities - Pinner, Hatch End & Wealdstone". Pinner.harrowobserver.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-06-13.