First University Challenge host Bamber Gascoigne dies aged 87

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TV presenter and author Bamber Gascoigne has died at the age of 87 following a short illness.

Gascoigne, best known as the original host of BBC’s University Challenge, died at his home in Richmond the Grange Park Opera has announced on behalf of his family.

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In 2014 the TV star inherited 14th century Surrey estate West Horsley Place from his aunt, the Duchess of Roxburghe, where Grange Park Opera built an opera house in the woods.

First University Challenge host Bamber Gascoigne dies aged 87
© Provided by Evening Standard Bamber Gascoigne (John Stillwell/PA) (PA Wire)

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A statement from the opera said: “TV presenter and author Bamber Gascoigne has today (8 February 2022) died at his home in Richmond after a short illness.”

Gascoigne took on the role as the first quizmaster of University Challenge in 1962 until the end of its initial run in 1987.

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Lines he often used became classic University Challenge catchphrases such as “Your starter for 10”, “fingers on buzzers” and “I’ll have to hurry you”.

The quiz show was revived in 1994 with Jeremy Paxman as the quizmaster.

First University Challenge host Bamber Gascoigne dies aged 87
© Provided by Evening Standard Bamber Gascoigne (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Wire)

Gascoigne also wrote the satirical novel Murgatroyd’s Empire which was published in 1972, as well as writing and presenting the documentary series The Christians in 1977 which explored the history of Christianity.

Other presenting projects included the documentary series Victorian Values in 1987 and The Great Moghuls in 1992.

In 1984, Gascoigne was famously played by Griff Rhys Jones in a sketch for the comedy series The Young Ones.

Sherlock star Mark Gatiss also portrayed Gascoigne in the 2006 film Starter For Ten which follows a student winning a place on a University Challenge quiz team.

Gascoigne was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2018 in the Queen’s birthday honours for his services to the arts.

The TV presenter had been married to his wife Christina, a potter, for 55 years.

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