I was sad to learn of the death of Bob Holness today.
I was lucky enough to work with Bob in the early nineties when (among other people) I produced his BBC World Service programme “Anything Goes”.
Bob was the best, most professional, most trouble free presenter I ever worked with. A consummate broadcaster from a kinder, gentler era. A gentleman of the old school.
“Anything Goes” was a request show where listeners could request… well anything. This included speech from the BBC archive (Churchill’s speeches and the Abdication broadcast came up a lot) and an eclectic variety of music. When I produced it I gave it a little push in a slightly more contemporary direction but Bob was always unflappable despite my gentle provocation.
My best memory of Bob is this one.
At one point for some strange reason World Service management decided that they needed 5 minute long filler programmes. I think it was something to do with a gap where one transmitter took over from another or something. A typical BBC absurdity. And after some typical BBC moaning about how daft it was we producers dutifully got down to the task of thinking up 5 minute long ideas.
Some strange connection was made in my brain.
I selected “Jazz: Delicious Hot, Disgusting Cold” by the Bonzo Dog Band. I wrote a script attempting to explain why it was funny aimed at someone with English as a second language living in Addis Ababa. 3 minutes of music, just under 2 minutes of script.
Who better to voice this script than the urbane, unflappable Bob Holness?
Bob dutifully recorded the script. I don’t think he’d ever heard this piece of music before. He roared with laughter all the way through it.
So I’ll be celebrating Bob by listening to perhaps the funniest music parody, faux jazz track ever recorded and remembering him chortling. (If you’ve never heard it – it’s here on You Tube.)
I’ll miss you and so will millions of others.