Bamber Gascoigne, the first University Challenge host, who became one of the UK’s most beloved TV quiz presenters, has died aged 87, his representatives confirmed to the BBC. Gascoigne died at his home in Richmond, London, after a short illness.
Born in London, Gascoigne won scholarships to both Eton and Cambridge where he read English literature and wrote a musical, Share My Lettuce, that went on to star Maggie Smith and Kenneth Williams.
His big break came in 1962 when he was selected as the first host for ITV quiz University Challenge, which was based on U.S. series College Bowl and is still airing today.
Gascoigne became a household name, presenting the show for 25 years and making phrases such as “Your starter for ten” and “I’ll have to hurry you” part of the everyday British lexicon. He was famously parodied by Griff Rhys-Jones in alternative BBC Two comedy The Young Ones in an episode entitled Bambi.
Upon leaving University Challenge, which has been hosted by Jeremy Paxman on the BBC since 1994, Gascoigne wrote several successful books, produced documentaries and established an online history encyclopedia called HistoryWorld. In 2014, he inherited an estate in Surrey that is now used as the filming location for hit BBC One comedy Ghosts.
He is survived by wife of more than 50 year, Christina Ditchburn.
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