British jazz musician, game show host

From the Associated Press

Humphrey Lyttelton, a jazz trumpeter and host of the surreal British Broadcasting Corp. radio game show "I'm Sorry, I Haven't a Clue," died at a London hospital April 25 after surgery, according to an announcement on his website. He was 86.

Born in 1921 to a prominent British family and educated at the elite Eton College, Lyttelton was a longtime jazz fanatic who taught himself to play the trumpet as a teenager.

He became an accomplished musician -- Louis Armstrong once called him Britain's best trumpeter -- and made a series of records for the EMI label with his Lyttelton Band.

He toured with the band well into his 80s, and made a guest appearance on Radiohead's track “Life In a Glass House” in 2000.

Lyttelton's varied experiences took in World War II service in the Grenadier Guards and a stint as a cartoonist for the Daily Mail newspaper. He also wrote several books about music.

But for many, he was best known as the host of “I’m Sorry, I Haven’t a Clue,” which was launched in 1972.

A self-styled "antidote" to ordinary game shows, the program built up a passionate following with its mix of silliness, wordplay and innuendo.

Lyttelton was a master at delivering ribald double- entendres -- usually involving the show's fictitious scorekeeper, "the lovely Samantha" -- in his deadpan, upper-class voice.

He also was famous for his imaginative sign-off lines, which would begin: "As the delicate mayfly of time collides with the speeding windscreen of fate," or with some equally fanciful metaphor.

Lyttelton once said the show was popular because it was "chronically unpredictable. It doesn't get stale because nobody knows what's going to happen next, least of all us."

He is survived by his wife and four children.

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