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Kenneth Kendall

Newsreader;

Born: August 7, 1924; Died: December 14, 2012.

KENNETH Kendall, the first newsreader to appear in vision on BBC television in 1955, has died aged 88 after suffering from a stroke.

Known to many in later years for his role in Channel 4's Treasure Hunt, Kendall died in hospital in Newport on the Isle of Wight.

Born in southern India, where his father worked, the family moved to Cornwall when young Kenneth was 10 years old. He went on to study modern languages at Oxford University.

His early career plans were unclear. Kendall became a schoolmaster and a captain in the Coldstream Guards during the Second World War, where he sustained a D-Day injury, yet he clearly possessed the performance gene. And when a friend informed him he "had a good clear voice and should pursue work with the BBC as a radio announcer", Kendall did just that, joining the Home Service in 1948 and moving into television in 1954.

At that time, newsreaders did not appear in vision, for fear that facial expressions would suggest they had opinions of their own. And Kendall certainly did have some (in 1959 he stood as a Tory councillor in North Kensington), but in 1955 Kendall was allowed to be seen as well as heard.

Was he a newsman or an aspirational actor? At the time, it was common to be both, and Kendall, still an on-off freelance with the BBC, was able to indulge his thespian leanings thanks to a short working stint at the menswear shop Austin Reed in Regent Street.

It was there he met future Are You Being Served? actor John Inman, who offered his new friend work with a repertory company in Crewe.

Kendall indeed went on to enjoy some acting success, appearing in Doctor Who in 1966 and in the drama series Adam Adamant. Later in life he would enjoy a cameo role as a newsreader in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

But when 1960s acting work dried up, Kendall returned to newsreading with the BBC, going on to become a household name.

In 1975 he fronted the Nine O'Clock News and four years later was voted Most Popular Newsreader by Daily Mirror readers. Not surprisingly, given his sartorial panache, Kendall also picked up a Best Dressed Newsreader Style International Award; his only on-screen aesthetic slip-up one night when a false tooth emerged from his mouth.

Kendall left the BBC in 1981, three years before he was due to retire, complaining about the "sloppily written and ungrammatical" stories he was expected to broadcast.

His stint on the cutting edge of news over, he joined the world of entertainment programming with series such as Treasure Hunt, in which he talked over footage of presenter Anneka Rice jumping in and out of helicopters.

Not surprisingly, the handsome, well-groomed frontman acquired an army of female fans, who deluged him with letters and proposals of marriage.

But the efforts were wasted. Kendall was gay and in later years moved to the Isle of Wight to live with his partner Mark Fear (the couple entered a civil partnership in 2006), co-owning a restaurant and then a marine art gallery.

In his spare time Kendall kept bees and worked for several charities. But he did make one last return to television in 2010 with the BBC documentary The Young Ones, in which older celebrities tried to overcome the problems of ageing by adopting 1970s sensibilities.

And there's no doubt the silver-haired TV star will be missed. "Kenneth Kendall was a lovely man, very kind to me when I started Treasure Hunt," said presenter Wincey Willis on Twitter. "He was funny and we both loved dogs."

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