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Obituary: Roy Hudd

Comedian, actor and writer whose satirical radio show 'The News Huddlines' ran for 26 years


Funny man: Roy Hudd shows off his OBE for services to entertainment which was awarded to him in 2004. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Funny man: Roy Hudd shows off his OBE for services to entertainment which was awarded to him in 2004. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire


Funny man: Roy Hudd shows off his OBE for services to entertainment which was awarded to him in 2004. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Roy Hudd, the comedian, who died last Sunday aged 83, sprang from the tradition of the British music hall and although he made his mark on the stage and on television was best known for The News Huddlines, his long-running BBC Radio 2 satirical show which poked fun at the week's news.

He became a household name in the 1960s with television sketch shows like The Illustrated Weekly Hudd and The Roy Hudd Show, later earning critical acclaim when he played Harold Atterbow in Dennis Potter's powerful TV drama Lipstick On Your Collar (1993).

During two stints in Coronation Street (2002-04 and 2 006-09) he played the undertaker Archie Shuttleworth.

More recently he appeared in the third series of the ITV drama Broadchurch as the father of Det Sgt Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman).

His big television break came in 1964 in Ned Sherrin's short-lived satire show Not So Much a Programme, More a Way of Life.

The comedian Arthur Askey's daughter Anthea wangled him a small part in a Christmas show at Wimbledon Theatre starring the female impersonator Danny La Rue, who was so impressed with his performance that he found Hudd a role in the long-running West End production, Danny La Rue at the Palace.

In 1975 he started his marathon run on BBC Radio 2 in The News Huddlines. He made it a rule that however lucrative a television or film offer might be - his big-screen credits included The Sweet Life (1998), Kind of Hush (1998) and Purely Belter (2000), as well as earlier roles in Up Pompeii, The Seven Magnificent Deadly Sins (both 1971) and An Acre of Seats in a Garden of Dreams (1973) - he would turn it down if it clashed with his commitment to The News Huddlines.

The show flourished, becoming the first port of call for aspiring comedy writers, actors and performers (among them a young David Jason) looking for work.

In 1985 the programme earned Hudd the Variety Club Radio Personality of the Year and Best Radio Programme awards. The show ran until 2001.

During the 1970s Hudd starred as a sergeant-major in television commercials for Quick Brew tea bags using the slogan "It's yer little perforations", buying a house near Henley-on-Thames on the proceeds.

But in the mid-1980s financial disaster overtook Hudd.

He lost his life savings - about £75,000 - when a show he had written for himself and the comedian Billy Dainty was advertised wrongly and no one turned up.

Away from performing, Hudd turned to writing, turning out scripts for a one-man music hall show, several revues, numerous pantomimes and the musical Underneath the Arches (1982), in which he played the music hall entertainer Bud Flanagan, a role that earned him the Society of West End Theatres actor of the year award. He also chronicled his career in Roy Hudd's Book of Music Hall, Variety and Showbiz Anecdotes (1993).

The son of a carpenter, Roy Hudd was born in Croydon, Surrey, on May 16, 1936. Both his parents died while he was a child and he was brought up by his grandmother.

Having turned down a place at the local grammar school, he was educated at Tavistock secondary modern and Croydon secondary technical schools. His first job, delivering artwork in Fleet Street for an advertising agency, led to his joining their studio as a commercial artist, learning lettering and lay-out from Harry Beck, designer of the London Underground map. In his spare time Hudd started performing in concert parties put on by Croydon boys' club.

After national service in the RAF, Hudd's first professional show business engagement, in 1957, was as a Butlin's Redcoat at Clacton-on-Sea as one half of the double act Hudd and Kay. He went solo in 1959.

As well as his collection of show business anecdotes, Hudd's books included Music Hall (1976), Roy Hudd's Who's Who in Variety 1945-60 (1997) and Twice Nightly (2007). His autobiography, A Fart In a Colander, appeared in 2009.

Hudd was a long-time member of the Grand Order of Water Rats, for which he served a term as King Rat. In the 1980s he also chaired the Entertainment Artistes Benevolent Fund. He was an industrious fundraiser during the campaign to restore Wilton's Music Hall in London.

Hudd was named Variety Club BBC Radio Personality of 1976 and 1993, and won a Sony gold award for The News Huddlines in 1990. He received a British Comedy Lifetime Achievement award in 1990, and the following year received rave reviews for playing Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park. In 2012 The Oldie magazine named him Diamond Geezer of the Year. He was appointed OBE in 2004.

Roy Hudd married, in 1963, Ann Lambert, with whom he had a son, Max. The marriage was dissolved in 1983, and in 1988 he married Deborah Flitcroft, who survives him.