RIP Humphrey Lyttelton

Friday 25th April 2008

Humphrey Lyttelton, the chairman of Radio 4's comedy panel show I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue died a few hours ago.

The radio host and veteran jazz musician was 86. A message posted on his website says: "Humph died peacefully with his family and friends around him on April 25th at 7.00pm following surgery. We would like to thank everyone for their support and express our deep gratitude to the staff of Barnet General for the care that they gave Humph."

On Monday we reported that the planned recordings of the 51st series of I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue had been cancelled because the host had been admitted to hospital. We now know that Lyttelton had surgery in an attempt to repair an aortic aneurysm. The live tour of I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue was also running at the time, and Rob Brydon took over as guest host.

Lyttelton has hosted the self-styled 'antidote to panel games' ever since the first episode in 1972. ISIHAC, which regularly features Graeme Garden, Barry Cryer and Tim Brooke-Taylor is now arguably one of, if not the, most successful radio comedy ever. The programme has a huge fan-base who eagerly follow its games like Mornington Crescent, One Song to the Tune of Another, and Cheddar Gorge. BBC Tickets say few shows become fully booked as quickly as I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue does.

Although Lyttelton is best known to comedy fans for hosting ISIHAC, his greatest achievements are as a jazz musician. He was awarded a lifetime achievement award at the British Jazz Awards in 2000, and another at the BBC Jazz Awards in 2001. For over 40 years he has also been the host of The Best of Jazz on Radio 2, and received a Sony Gold Award for his work on this show.

The controller of Radio Four, Mark Damazer, said Lyttelton encompassed "so many" of the virtues people wanted from Radio Four comedy. He said: "He's just a colossally good broadcaster and possessed of this fantastic sense of timing. It's a very, very sad day but we should celebrate and be very grateful for how much he did for Radio Four because he really was one of the giants over the last 40 years, really terrific."

The BBC have yet to comment on the future of I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue but the speculation is it will now be cancelled because finding a replacement for 'Humph' would be extremely difficult, if not impossible.

The BBC have taken the unprecedented step of replacing the Radio 4 homepage with a black page. I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue is not currently available on the BBC iPlayer, but it is expected that classic episodes of the comedy will be made available to listen to online shortly. Some brief clips from the show can be listened to via the BBC Comedy website

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