Bob Monkhouse Bob Monkhouse was born in Beckenham, Kent, and educated at Dulwich College, from which he was expelled; he worked briefly as an animator before his national service. On leaving the RAF in 1948, he was one of the first comedians to be given a contract by the BBC.
Originally employed as a scriptwriter for radio comedy in partnership with Dennis Goodwin, Monkhouse gradually moved over to television, hosting programmes such as Candid Camera in the early 1960s. He also had an income as a gag-writer for many visiting American comedians including Bob Hope when they wanted topical jokes for their British tours. He also appeared in comedy films, including the first of the Carry On film series, Carry On Sergeant. One of his biggest television successes was as host of The Golden Shot during the late 1960s. He went on to host several quiz shows, including Celebrity Squares, Bob's Full House, Family Fortunes and Wipeout. He also starred in the 1979 sketch comedy television series Bonkers with the Hudson Brothers.
An expert on the history of the silent cinema and a keen movie collector, he presented Mad Movies in 1966, in which he presented clips from comic silent movies, some of which he had helped to recover and restore. His film collecting hobby caused a brush with the law in the 1980s when he was arrested for suspected theft, but was soon cleared.
Monkhouse became a favourite with impressionists, and, as his style of comedy fell out of favour, was often mocked for his slickness and apparent insincerity. He came back into fashion during the 1990s, and appearances such as guesting on Have I Got News For You restored his popularity. In July 1995, Monkhouse was in the headlines when he appealed for the safe return of his joke book which had been lost or stolen. The book, which contained notes on sketches and one-liners, for which Monkhouse was most famous, was eventually returned to its owner. He was appointed an OBE in 1993.
Monkhouse married twice, to Elizabeth in 1949 (divorced in 1972), and to Jacqueline in 1973, for the rest of his life. He had three children from his first marriage, but only his daughter Abigail survived him. His son Gary, who had cerebral palsy, died in 1992, while his son Simon, from whom he had been estranged for almost a decade, died of a heroin overdose in a Bangkok hotel in 2001.
Monkhouse died at his home in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire of prostate cancer on 29th December 2003. He was 75.
In a 2005 poll to find The Comedian's Comedian, he was voted amongst the top 50 comedy acts ever by fellow comedians and comedy insiders.