Monday, August 22, 2005

Alternative Heroes - Richard Whitely

When Richard Whitely died in June, it was very much the end of an era. Having fronted Countdown, channel 4's flagship show, since 1982, he was reportedly the most recognised face on TV after the test card girl. Like Elton John, he always looked like an old auntie, and had a superb propensity for loud shirt and jacket combinations (the photo to the left is very subdued). He was dubbed Twice-Nightly by good friend Terry Wogan after news leaked of an alleged affair, and they playfully cajoled eachother for months, Whitely on channel 4 and Wogan on BBC Radio 2. Whitely was also a master of the pun, and was responsible for more tumbleweed moments and blue rinse groans than is imaginable. Having been brought up on a healthy diet of Carry On films, Roger Moore's Bond and Coutdown, the pun is understandably my friend, although I can only dream of aspiring to the lofty heights Twice-Nightly achieved. His cuddly joviality masked the fact that he was a Cambridge scholar, and before that a graduate of the highly appropriately named Giggleswick School. I must admit that one of my fantasies was to drive with Whitely into a city in an exploding clown car, stock up on criminally-garish ties and then back home for a few rounds of World Soccer on the sega master system and fish and chips out of the paper. Unfortunately that'll never happen now, but regardless of this, and for your lifetime of puns, jackets, ties and generally waghandary, Richard Whitely, you are in every possible sense an alternative hero


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