Fred Housego (born 25 October 1944, Dundee, Scotland) is a former London taxi driver who became a television and radio personality and presenter after winning the BBC television quiz Mastermind in 1980. He did not give up his taxi licence when he began his media career and he was still driving a cab in 2007.
Early life and career
Housego was educated at Kynaston Comprehensive School, where he passed one GCE O-level in British Constitution. In addition to driving a taxi he has also worked as a messenger for an advertising agency, a postman and a registered London Tourist Board tour guide.
In 1980, Housego won a series of Mastermind in front of 18,000,000 viewers, becoming Britain's first celebrity quizzer and beating Ingram Wilcox, who subsequently won £1,000,000 on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?. In an interview with Bradley Walsh for Come on Down! The Game Show Story, he said that his knowledge came from being a London Tourist Board-registered tour guide.
In 1981, Housego took part in the international version of Mastermind in Sydney, Australia. He again used The Tower of London as his subject in the competition, having previously used it as his subject in the Mastermind final.
Television and radio
Housego's specialist subject in the final of Mastermind was 'The Tower of London'. Apart from Mastermind, his television appearances include Blankety Blank, The Pyramid Game, History On Your Doorstep, the Six O'Clock Show (on which he was a presenter) and This is Your Life.
However, it is radio where Housego has spent most of his broadcasting career, and he became the host of an all-night radio phone-in show, in London, on LBC for many years during the 1990s. He also presented an LBC series about radio comedy during the same period. More recently he has been heard on BBC Radio 4 presenting a documentary and on various Radio 4 panel games and quizzes. He has also appeared on Start the Week and as a contestant on Round Britain Quiz on BBC Radio 4.
He was the 'phone a friend' of Angela Rippon on Who wants to be a Millionaire. Housego was asked in which month was St Crispin's Day but chose April despite being born on St Crispin's Day, which is in October.
Housego was the Pye TV Personality of the Year in 1981 and spoke to the Oxford and Cambridge Unions. He is also a keen West Ham United supporter and has made several appearances at the ground during half-time presenting awards.
Housego lives with his wife Pat in Pevensey Bay, East Sussex, England. As of 2007 he continued to work as a taxi driver. Housego, who suffers from diabetes, became overweight but by exercise and diet lost six stones in six months.
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- "Come on Down! The Game Show Story". ITV1. 17 August 2014. Missing or empty
- Housego, Fred (1982). London: A Portrait of Britain's Historic Capital. Hamlyn. ISBN 9780600342946. Retrieved 7 June 2014.