Robert Robinson (broadcaster)

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Robert Robinson
Born Robert Henry Robinson
(1927-12-17)17 December 1927
Liverpool, Lancashire, England, United Kingdom
Died 12 August 2011(2011-08-12) (aged 83)
London, England, UK
Occupation Broadcaster
Years active 1955–2010
Spouse(s) Josee Robinson (1958–death); 3 children
Children Nicholas, Lucy and Susie

Robert Henry Robinson (17 December 1927 – 12 August 2011)[1] was an English radio and television presenter, game show host, journalist and author.

Biography and career

Robinson was born in Liverpool,[2] the son of an accountant father, and educated at Raynes Park Grammar School and Exeter College, Oxford. He then became a journalist for the Sunday Chronicle (TV columnist), the Sunday Graphic (film and theatre columnist), the Sunday Times (radio critic and editor of Atticus) and the Sunday Telegraph (film critic).

He began working on television as a journalist in 1955. During the 1960s and 1970s, he presented the series Open House, Picture Parade,[3] Points of View, the leading literary quiz Take it or Leave it, Ask the Family,[4] BBC-3 – including the discussion during which Kenneth Tynan became the first person to say "fuck" on British television (Robinson told Tynan that this was "an easy way to make history")[5] – and Call My Bluff.

In 1967 Robinson presented the edition of The Look of the Week in which classical musicologist Hans Keller was brought face to face with the young Pink Floyd. He wrote and presented The Fifties on BBC1. Robinson was the presenter of The Book Programme on BBC2 from 1973–80 and a number of spin-off documentaries, notably B. Traven – A Mystery Solved (1979). He wrote and presented several BBC1 documentaries under the title Robinson's Travels, among them The Mormon Trail (1976), Cruising and Indian Journey. In 1986 he wrote and presented The Magic Rectangle, one of the BBC1 documentaries marking the 50th anniversary of television.

On radio, he presented Today, BBC Radio 4's flagship morning news show, and Stop The Week, a fiercely competitive talk programme.[6] Robinson fronted Brain of Britain on BBC Radio 4 for many years, but was replaced by Russell Davies during the 2004 series owing to illness.[7] He returned to host the new series in 2005 until handing over the reins to Peter Snow in 2007. In September 2008 Robinson chaired the special Brain of Brains and Top Brain editions of the quiz and returned to host the series in 2008; Davies then replaced him for the 2009 shows.[8] In August 2010 it was announced that Robinson was to step down permanently from Brain of Britain to be replaced by Davies.[9]

Private Eye used to lampoon Robinson under the nickname 'Smuggins'. In a sketch on the BBC's Not the Nine O'Clock News he was impersonated by an actor wearing a cricket box over his forehead. Robinson was also the subject of a sketch by Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie in the second series of A Bit of Fry and Laurie, and Fry occasionally did an affectionate impression of Robinson when hosting the quiz show QI. He was also lampooned by comedy duo David Mitchell and Robert Webb in the second series of That Mitchell and Webb Look, where he was shown as the presenter of an early version of their fictional gameshow Numberwang. He appeared in a Viz comic strip under the name Robin Robertson. He was the father of the actress Lucy Robinson.[10]

Personal life

He was married to actress Josee Robinson (Richard) from 1958 until his death[2] in St Mary's Hospital, Paddington, on 12 August 2011, aged 83, after a long period of ill health.[11] They had three children.


  • Inside Robert Robinson (journalism)
  • The Dog Chairman (journalism)
  • Prescriptions of a Pox Doctor's Clerk (journalism)
  • Landscape with Dead Dons (1956) (mystery novel)
  • The Conspiracy (1968) (novel)
  • Bad Dreams (novel)
  • The Club (2000) (novel)
  • The Everyman Book of Light Verse (as editor)
  • Skip All That (1997) (autobiography)


  1. ^ Telegraph obituary
  2. ^ a b Purser, Philip (13 August 2011). "Robert Robinson obituary". Guardian. 
  3. ^ TV Heroes: No. 39: Robert Robinson The Independent (London), Sep 12, 2002 by Gerard Gilbert
  4. ^ "". Retrieved 2011-05-03. 
  5. ^ Herald obituary of Robinson
  6. ^ Skip All That, p.221
  7. ^ Paul Donovan "Radio waves: Brain drain", The Times, 9 September 2007
  8. ^ Paul Donovan "[Brain of Britain:] A precious relic", The Times, 4 October 2009
  9. ^ Tara Conlan "Robert Robinson quits Brain of Britain", The Guardian, 3 August 2010
  10. ^ Robinson, Lucy Film & TV Database, British Film Institute (accessed 6 Oct 2008)
  11. ^ "Broadcaster Robert Robinson dies at 83". BBC News. 13 August 2011. Retrieved 13 August 2011. 

External links

  • Robert Robinson on IMDb
  • Introducing The Pink Floyd and Hans Keller on BBCTV's 'The Look of the Week', 14 May 1967 on YouTube
  • Broadcaster Robert Robinson dies at 83
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