Born: January 12, 1953

Died: February 14, 2021.

RORY Bremner’s tribute to Iain Pattinson underlines why the death of the comedy writer created such a profound sense of loss. “It’s not just the jokes we’ll miss”, he said, “it’s the spirit and company of a really funny man, and the best purveyor of blue-chip filth in the business.”

Blue-chip filth? Oh, yes indeed, as anyone who listened to the more risque moments in I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue, the long-running Radio 4 panel show, can testify.

Pattinson, who has died aged 68, was certainly a very funny man, and the three Sony Gold Awards and a British Comedy Award on his mantelpiece were testimony to the talent.

Along the career road he also wrote for the likes of Stephen Fry, Jonathan Ross, Clive Anderson and Chris Tarrant. But it was the brilliant, cheeky wordplay he engineered in I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue that attracted a cult following.

Pattinson, the sole scriptwriter on Clue for two decades from the mid-Nineties, writing for chairman Humphrey Lyttelton and his successor, Jack Dee, was once asked if he felt pressure to come up with gags.

“When I’m asked how a comedy writer is inspired to write new jokes every week, there is a pat answer: I get up and sit down at my computer with a cup of strong coffee”, he replied.

“I then think about the show I have to write: its form, its style, its performers. I then begin to type, inspired by the thought of how the hell I’m going to pay the mortgage.”

He continued in deadpan fashion: “That was generally the case – except when I had the luxury of Humph’s voice in my head. The inspiration was always there to do something more quirky, more daring, more stupid and, occasionally, even more outrageously k***-gag-laden.”

Pattinson’s scripts combined cleverness with silliness for a show in which he skated across the frozen pond of absurdity with elan and, sometimes, just sometimes, edged close to the cracked ice of smut.

He certainly had his moments. One popular feature asked participants to perform cut-down film classics. “Lionel Blair has been able to pull off Twelve Angry Men in under two minutes,” announced the chairman.

And certainly, the mischievous part of Pattinson’s character, which was not inconsiderable, loved to dive headlong into innuendo, played out to the listeners via the Clue chairman’s mythical assistant, “the lovely Samantha”. Pattinson insisted that any double entendres were all in the minds of listeners: “There is no rudery at all”, he said. “The words on the page are completely innocent”.

Pattinson's death comes some 10 months after the passing of Tim Brooke-Taylor, a long-standing regular on the much-loved show.

Iain Lionel Pattinson was born in Kent, the son of a shipping worker. At first, he did not plan for a career in writing. In fact, he didn’t plan for any sort of career at all.

Leaving grammar school before he took his A-levels, the hopeful guitarist played in bands – and was good enough to do session work – but real wages came his way as a market-stall holder and an insurance broker.

He went on to join Shell, working his way up the ladder to become a marketing executive. But, of course, there aren’t too many laughs in oil extraction and in the late 1980s he quit, and began pitching work to the BBC radio comedy department. His talent became evident and he went on to work on the likes of Week Ending and The News Quiz, on Radio 4, and on television with the likes of Would I Lie to You?

Along the way, he wrote for the likes of Graham Norton, Barry Cryer and Tim Brooke-Taylor. He was also a major contributor to both the 2008 book, Lyttelton’s Britain, and the book of I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue, published to mark the show’s

40th anniversary in 2012. Despite achieving both success and acknowledgement from the great and the quite good, Iain was immensely self-deprecating.

It was entirely obvious via his writing. The end of one broadcast of Clue had Lyttelton declare: “Nietzsche once said that life was a choice between suffering and boredom. He never said anything about having to put up with both at the same time”.

What was also obvious was that Pattinson had tremendous fun in his career. He enjoyed the touring version of Clue, writing introductions for each town the show appeared in. “By the 1890s, Wimbledon was well established as a commuter town,” said one intro, “with regular horse buses running to the city. However, when the electric tramline arrived in 1907, the horses went to London on that instead.”

A motor enthusiast who spent much of his time at his second home in the Dordogne, France, Pattinson had an AC Cobra sports car tucked away in his garage.

Jack Dee said: “Iain’s unique brilliance was his ability to combine the absurd with the plausible. His sense of silliness was without limits and I treasure the memory of having worked with such a comedy legend.”

Rob Brydon said: “Iain’s work on ISIHAC was in a league of its own. He really was the sharpest, wittiest and most original of comedy writers with a seemingly endless supply of ideas and inspiration”.

Iain Pattinson is survived by his mother and his sister Edwina.