Monday, 28 April 2008

Humphrey Lyttelton, 1921-2008

Sad news at the weekend of the death of Humphrey Lyttelton, jazz trumpeter and long-time host of BBC Radio Four’s I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue, which one of his obituaries quite rightly described as more collaborative improvisation than panel game.

Now I won’t pretend to know anything at all about jazz, but I’ve been a long-time fan of I’m Sorry… Without taking anything away from the regular panellists, the programme’s success was down to ‘Humph’, whose persona – veering between exasperated bewilderment and perfect deadpan – allowed him to get away with the sort of double entendres that would normally be tucked away well after the watershed.

These days, far too many people get described as a British ‘institution’, but in the case of Lyttelton, it’s absolutely the right term to use. I just hope they won’t try to replace the irreplaceable.

* Here's Richard Herring's blog post on it. As he says, filthy jokes somehow sound so much more filthy, and funny, coming from the lips of an 86-year-old man.

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