Humphrey Lyttelton

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25 April 2008(2008-04-25) (aged 86)

Humphrey Richard Adeane Lyttelton (23 May 1921 – 25 April 2008),[1][2] also known as Humph, was an English jazz musician and broadcaster, and chairman of the BBC radio comedy programme I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue.[3] He was a cousin of the 10th Viscount Cobham and a great-nephew of the politician and sportsman Alfred Lyttelton, who was the first man to represent England at both football and cricket.


Early life and career

Lyttelton was born at Eton College, Buckinghamshire, where his father, George William Lyttelton (second son of the 8th Viscount Cobham), was a house master.[4] (As a male-line descendant of Charles Lyttelton, Lyttelton was in remainder to both the Viscountcy Cobham and the Barony of Lyttelton.) From Sunningdale Preparatory School, Lyttelton duly progressed to Eton College. At Eton, Lyttelton fagged for Lord Carrington and formed his love of jazz. He was inspired by the trumpeters Louis Armstrong and Nat Gonella. He taught himself the instrument, and formed a quartet at the school in 1936 that included the future journalist Ludovic Kennedy on drums.

After leaving school, Lyttelton spent some time at the Port Talbot steel plate works in South Wales, an experience which led to him becoming what he termed a "romantic socialist". After being called up for war service, he served in the Grenadier Guards, being commissioned as a second lieutenant on 29 November 1941,[5] and seeing action at Salerno during Operation Avalanche when he came ashore with his pistol in one hand, and his trumpet in the other.[4] On VE Day, 8 May 1945, Lyttelton joined in the celebrations by playing his trumpet from a wheelbarrow, inadvertently giving his first broadcast performance; the BBC recording still survives. Following demobilisation after World War II, he attended Camberwell Art College for two years.

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