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Obituary: Jeremy Beadle

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Obituary: Jeremy Beadle

ITV / Rex Features

Jeremy Beadle was born in Hackney, East London, in 1948, the product of an extra-marital affair. His father, a Fleet Street sports reporter, left before he was born and Beadle made no effort to get in touch with him out of loyalty to his mother. He was born with Poland's Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder which stunted growth in his right hand, and had to undergo frequent operations before the age of two.

Beadle hated school and was often in trouble, eventually being expelled at 16. He spent the next decade working as a baker, assembly line worker, tour guide, lavatory attendant, fruit picker, ad salesman and glamour photographer, before landing a job with Time Out magazine.

Around this time, he started organising music events, including 1974's Bickershaw Festival, before making the move into radio and TV. He wrote facts and questions for shows such as Celebrity Squares and provided material for stars like Kenny Everett and Noel Edmonds. He also worked as a presenter on Capital Radio, then LBC, as well as appearing on a variety of shows related to pranks and hoaxes.

He finally landed his big break in 1981 as one of the hosts of Game For A Laugh alongside Matthew Kelly, Sarah Kennedy and Henry Kelly. The practical joke-style series was a big success and the first ever to win the Saturday night ratings battle for ITV. Beadle followed with prank show Beadle's About in 1987, which ran for nine years and was the world's longest continuously-running hidden camera show.

He spent seven years writing and presenting You've Been Framed from 1990, which featured viewers' mishaps captured on camcorder. Again, the show was a huge hit, attracting up to 18.7 million viewers in its early days, although ratings had fallen by the time Lisa Riley took over in 1997.

Despite his success, Beadle was villified for his role as a TV prankster. He was voted the most hated man in Britain after Saddam Hussein in a 2001 poll, which is said to have hurt him deeply. Beadle's About was cancelled in 1996 and his next few projects flopped, as did his autobiography, while a panto in which he was to star sold just 13 tickets. He began to devote his time to charity work and resurrected his early passion for compiling facts, writing a trivia quiz for the Daily Express and working on reference books, including The People's Almanac and the Book of Lists.

Beadle was made an MBE in 2001 for his charity work, which included helping children with Poland's Syndrome and raising more than £13m for children with leukemia. He also continued to appear on TV, including being locked away with six members of the public for Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway, as well as Celebrity Mastermind and a celebrity edition of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?.

He battled poor health in the last few years, suffering a kidney tumour in 2004 and lymphocytic leukemia the following year.

He died yesterday after being hospitalised with pneumonia. He is survived by longterm partner Sue, whom he married in 2005, as well as daughters Cassie and Bonnie and stepchildren Leo and Claire.

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