British jazz maestro to quiz master Lyttleton dies

Sat Apr 26, 2008 7:56am EDT
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By Jeremy Lovell

LONDON (Reuters) - British jazz-age trumpet maestro Humphrey Lyttleton, fondly known as "Humph" who later made a seamless transition to radio presenter and quiz-master has died at the age of 86, his website has announced.

The master of the innuendo, whose ready smile and quick wit won him an army of admirers in his many other incarnations as a cartoonist, writer and radio host, had been admitted to hospital earlier this week for heart surgery.

"Humph died peacefully with his family and friends around him," it said on Friday. "We would like to thank everyone for their support."

The BBC, where Lyttleton spent much of his later career as a host for both radio music shows and television quiz programs, added its voice to the tributes to one of the stalwarts of popular broadcasting.

"Humphrey Lyttelton will leave an enormous gap not just in British cultural life as a whole but in the lives of many millions of listeners," said BBC director general Mark Thompson.

"One of the towering figures of British jazz, he excelled too as a writer, cartoonist, humorist and of course as a broadcaster on television and radio.

"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."

Lyttleton, born on May 23, 1921, had a privileged upbringing but did not let that get in his way as he moved into the seamy world of jazz.   Continued...