Bob Holness




Call My Bluff

Junior Criss Cross Quiz

Raise the Roof

Take a Letter (1)

Top of the Form

Transworld Top Team (scorer)


Robert Wentworth John Holness started in showbiz as a DJ and actor in his country of birth, South Africa, which he returned to after a traditional English schooling. After Barry Nelson, he was the second actor to play James Bond, in a South African radio adaptation of Moonraker, but everyone knows him as the host of Blockbusters.

His presenting style was authoritative without being stuffy - he would rarely crack a joke, but would happily play along with other people's. He would especially do so with those of Alan Coren and Sandi Toksvig on Call My Bluff - indeed, Sandi would often get him to play a part in a mini-play she had written to help define a certain word.

After putting up with strokes for the last twenty years of his life, one of which was sufficiently serious to force him into semi-retirement, he died peacefully in January 2012, aged 83.


One or two people were caught out by a Stuart Maconie joke in the NME claiming that our Bob played the saxophone solo on Gerry Rafferty's hit Baker Street. Probably no more than one or two, though.

However, he does have some musical offspring. His daughter Ros was in Toto Coelo (of I Eat Cannibals "fame") and his other daughter Carol recorded under the name Nancy Nova.

And for anyone wanting to know the name of that hand-puppet he brought out from time to time, it was Harold the Hedgehog. Said puppet appeared on a semi-regular basis on 'Blockbusters' and once on 'Call My Bluff', providing the correct definition of a word in the latter show.

Bob once revealed on 'Blockbusters' that he was not related to the ventriloquist (and fellow quiz-host) Ray Alan, even though the two bore a strong physical resemblance.

He appears in the famous 1967 picture of the original Radio 1 DJs on the steps of Broadcasting House, although not as prominently as the likes of Jimmy Young, Pete Murray and Tony Blackburn. His role on the station was as host of the "Late Night Extra" programme, which he did in rotation with various others including Terry Wogan and, later on, Michael Parkinson and Keith Fordyce.

Web links

Internet Movie Database entry

Wikipedia entry


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