Website last updated: 19-9-2017

6 JANUARY 2012
ACTOR AND TV HOST BOB HOLNESS (1928-2012)

By: Anders Frejdh
Published:
2012-01-06
We are saddened to report that Bob Holness has passed away. Although not many people know, he was the second man to portray James Bond in a South African radio adaptation of Moonraker (1955) in 1956. Our thoughts are with his family.

Editor's note:
Barry Nelson (1920-2007) was the first man to play James Bond 1954 in CBS television adaption of Casino Royale (1953).

Wkipedia on Bob Holness:
Robert Wentworth John Holness (12 November 1928 – 6 January 2012) was an English radio and television presenter.

Shortly after his birth in Vryheid, Natal, South Africa, his family moved to Ashford, Kent, in the UK. After attending Ashford Grammar School (now The Norton Knatchbull School) and Maidstone College of Art and spending some time at Eastbourne College, he then worked for a printing company before returning to South Africa. In 1955, he received his first job as a radio presenter. He also married Mary in 1955, whom he met in South Africa. In 1956, Bob Holness played James Bond in a radio production of Moonraker. The couple returned to the UK in 1961. His daughter, Ros, was a member of the band Toto Coelo.

Holness joined the BBC as a presenter on Late Night Extra, initially on the BBC Light Programme and later on BBC Radio 1 and 2, presenting alongside people like Terry Wogan, Michael Parkinson and Keith Fordyce. From 1971, the show was broadcast solely on Radio 2.

From 1971 to 1995, he was the voice of the Butterkist popcorn cinema and television commercials.

Between 1975 and 1985, he was co-presenter with Douglas Cameron of the breakfast-time AM Programme on London's LBC radio station. He originally joined the station as an airborne traffic reporter. He won the Variety Club Award for 'Joint Independent Radio Personality of the Year' in both 1979 and 1984.

Between 1985 and 1997, he returned to Radio 2, presenting many shows including Bob Holness Requests the Pleasure and Bob Holness and Friends, as well as covering various weekday shows for holidaying presenters. Until 1998, he also presented the request programme Anything Goes on the BBC World Service.

Holness was the subject of an urban myth, claimed to have been initiated in the 1980s by broadcaster Stuart Maconie who, writing for the New Musical Express in a section called 'Believe It Or Not', said that Holness had played the saxophone solo on Gerry Rafferty's 1978 song "Baker Street". Tommy Boyd, among others, has disputed Maconie's claim to authorship of the rumour. The actual performer was Raphael Ravenscroft. The story clearly appealed to Holness' sense of humour as he often played along with the myth, and also at various times jokingly claimed to be the lead guitarist on Derek and the Dominoes' "Layla" and the mysterious individual putting Elvis Presley off his stride on the famous 'laughing' version of "Are You Lonesome Tonight?". In 1993 he was recorded, confirming the Baker Street story, in an interview for STOIC, Student Television of Imperial College.

In 1961, Holness became the host of UK game show Take a Letter, was relief host of Thames Television's magazine programme Today in 1968, and from 1983 until 1994 presented the British version of Blockbusters, for which he is best known.

In autumn 1995, he hosted Yorkshire Television's big-budget gameshow flop Raise the Roof before becoming the chairman of a revived Call My Bluff for the BBC.

Holness appeared on one episode of Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway in 2004, when he presented the last round of Ant and Dec's Blockbusters, with Ant as a contestant.

Photo above:
Bob Holness in a recent photo courtsey of The Daily Mail. © Mike Floyd

Read BBC's obituary of Bob Holness, the second man to portray James Bond:

www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-13960343

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