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'Blockbusters' presenter Bob Holness dies, aged 83

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Bob Holness presenting Blockbusters

© Rex Features / ITV

Blockbusters presenter Bob Holness has died at the age of 83.

Holness passed away on Friday morning (January 6) peacefully in his sleep, according to his family.

The TV icon, who has previously suffered from a series of strokes, was living in a nursing home.

> Bob Holness: Best on-screen moments - video

Born Robert Wentworth John Holness in Natal, South Africa, Holness moved to the UK with his family as a child, before briefly returning to South Africa to work for a printing company.

He began his distinguished broadcasting career in 1955, the same year he also married his wife Mary. Bob and Mary returned to the UK together in 1961, where his career blossomed.

Holness landed his first job with the BBC on Late Night Extra and worked for Radio 1 and 2 with broadcasters including Terry Wogan and Michael Parkinson. His impressive radio credits included further stints with Radio 2 fronting Bob Holness Requests the Pleasure and Bob Holness and Friends, and the World Service's Anything Goes. He also had a popular and successful partnership with Douglas Cameron at LBC, which made him a two-time Variety Club 'Radio Personality of the Year' winner.

Gameshow Blockbusters launched Holness to mainstream fame and made him a much-loved TV presenter for all ages. The quiz had a strong cult audience and was particularly popular with students during its 11-year run between 1983 and 1994.

Bob Holness, Raise The Roof
The show also spawned the famous humorous catchphrase, 'Can I have a P please, Bob?' and had its own hand-jive dance routine, which accompanied its closing credits. Holness always appeared happy to embrace the light-hearted and sillier elements of the quiz.

Holness's sense of humour was also highlighted when he regularly played along with the urban myth that he was the saxophonist on Gerry Rafferty's 1978 hit 'Baker Street', a made-up story created by journalist Stuart Maconie at NME magazine. Other myths associated with Bob Holness include that he was the lead guitarist on Derek and the Dominos' 'Layla' and that he was the person making Elvis Presley laugh during the recording of 'Are You Lonesome Tonight?'

Holness was famously the second actor to portray James Bond, following US actor Barry Nelson. He starred in a radio adaptation of Moonraker in 1956.

Post-Blockbusters, Holness remained a family TV favourite with presenting roles on Yorkshire Television's Raise the Roof and as chairman on a revived Call My Bluff. He also hosted Take A Letter on ITV between 1962 and 1964.

One of Holness's last major TV appearances came with a comedy cameo on Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway in 2004, when he hosted a special edition of Blockbusters.

Holness is survived by his wife Mary, three children and seven grandchildren.

> DS Icon: Bob Holness

Watch a classic clip of Holness on Blockbusters and the famous Blockbusters 'hand-jive' below:

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