Tributes to Humph, maestro of the daft

Lyttelton dies at 86

Tributes have been pouring in for Humphrey Lyttelton, who died on Friday night at the age of 86.

The acclaimed jazz trumpeter who became a comedy legend over more than 30 years of hosting I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue, died after heart surgery.

He was admitted to Barnet Hospital earlier this week for an operation to repair an aortic aneurysm, and a statement on his website says he ‘died peacefully with his family and friends around him on April 25th at 7pm following surgery.'

Clue panellist Barry Cryer said: ‘His timing was like a razorblade.

He was the only broadcaster I have ever known who could get a laugh from dead air, silence. An amazing gift.’

Graeme Garden added: ‘He was an immensely loveable man and we are absolutely shattered by the news. He had an amazing energy and get up and go. He was a great advocate of silliness. Last time I spoke to him he had just watched Hellzapoppin' on DVD – it is a comfort to know his sense of silliness endured till the end.’

Mark Damazar, controller of Radio 4, said: ‘Humphrey Lyttelton was a great and towering figure in the history of Radio 4 comedy.

‘Of course he was fabulously funny and sharp, but more than that he was the definition of a certain sort of wit - self-deprecating, mordant and linguistically brilliant. It was a wonderful combination, allied to a natural human warmth.’

BBC director-general Mark Thompson said: ‘On I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue all of his gifts were on show, his warmth and conviviality, his wit, his mischievousness.

‘He was a unique, irreplaceable talent. Like his many fans, we owe him an enormous debt of gratitude. Like them, all of us at the BBC feel a tremendous sense of loss.’

Humph hosted the ‘antidote to panel games’ since 1972 after a glittering jazz career – including having the first British jazz record to enter the top 20, Bad Penny Blues. He continued to tour with his band until this year.

The next series of I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue – which would have been the 51st - was cancelled earlier this month after Lyttelton was admitted to hospital, while Rob Brydon stood in to host the last show in the team's live tour.

Click here for a fuller obituary.

Here he is in action:

Published: 26 Apr 2008

Live comedy picks

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.