One of goodest of the good guys, Bob Holness, has died today aged 83, according to his family. Basically, one of the few men united by everyone else’s wish to have him as their grandfather, has finally gone and left us.
Of course, Bob will be best remembered for his role as the kindly quizmaster on the mighty Blockbusters TV series, but there’s was more to our Bob than simply being nice to students in Joe Bloggs jeans.
A statement released by his family said he “died peacefully in his sleep early this morning”, which really, is the most perfect way for Bob to go out. Peacefully, with a bit of class.
See, Holness had been living in a nursing home and had suffered a number of strokes over the years. He leaves his wife Mary, three children (one of whom, Ros, was a one hit wonder with Toto Coelo) and seven grandchildren.
Away from Blockbusters, Bob was a voice of calm in the babble of radio. Back in ’56, Holness played James Bond in a radio adaptation of Moonraker. That’s right. Bob Holness was one of the first James Bonds!
Concerning his turn as Bond, The Independent wrote:
“Listeners across the Union thrilled to Bob’s cultured tones as he defeated evil master criminals in search of world domination”.
Bob did have a rare air of culture about him didn’t he? While pretending to be more grandfatherly in his role on Blockbusters (he was much younger and more spritely than he let on), you believed that he had all the answers, without the help of his cue-cards. He’s also one of the few gameshow hosts who didn’t have contempt for his contestants. A real gentleman of television indeed.
Better yet was the urban myth that surrounded Bob. In a piece in the NME, it was claimed that Our Bob played the saxophone solo on Gerry Rafferty’s ’78 hit, ‘Baker Street’. Ever impish, this tale appealed to Holness’ sense of the absurd and he played along with the myth, not to mention his penchant for mischievously claiming that he also played lead guitar on Derek and the Dominoes’ ‘Layla’ as well as being the person responsible for making Elvis Presley laugh during the infamous version of ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight?’.
And, best of all, he shared a birthday with me, Mof Gimmers, who is writing this article.
Basically, Bob Holness was talented without trying, cool without fuss and generally one of the sweetest guys to ever cut his teeth in the dreadful, murky world of broadcast.
For fans of proper people, he’ll be missed. Raise a glass tonight to him and feel free to make a ‘I’ll have a P please Bob’ joke. As lazy as it is, you just know Bob wouldn’t mind one bit.