Thursday, January 06, 2005

PRESENTEROBIT: Humphrey Carpenter, regular presenter of Radio 3's Night Waves and In Tune, has died. Born in 1946, and the son of a future Bishop of Oxford, Carpenter combined a sharp wit with a bright musical talent.

His entry into presenting came in 1970 with the launch of BBC Radio Oxford, one a slew of stations the BBC threw together to try and head off the gathering threat of Independent Local Radio. Carpenter - who'd joined the BBC as a trainee in 1968 - fronted some of the accessable -but-worthy midweek programmes but transformed himself into Humpf for Saturday mornings, offering an Everettesque mix of silly voices and pop music.

As a musician, he could swap between piano, double-bass and sousaphone; his jazzband Vile Bodies held a residency for some years at the Ritz Hotel.

In a busy career, he also found time to be a respected though controversial biographer - his book on Robert Runcie created a brief storm, although he's probably most widely known for his book on Tolkein - and a children's author, creating Mr. Majeika; as well as squeezing in a Saturday morning theatre group for children. He never extended his work to television, though, something Carpenter himself put down to a tendency to "come across like someone's mad aunt."

Humphrey had been diagnosed with Parkinsons in his early fifties, and although he shared the details with his friends, he kept his condition from the BBC in case it affected offers of work. He died on January 4th from a pulmonary embolism, and is survived by his wife, Mari, and two daughters.

1 comment:

Robin Carmody said...

Very sad news. His book "That Was Satire That Was" is an excellent read. Wasn't he also Dennis Potter's official biographer?

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