Monday, 3 June 2013

25th Anniversary of Russell Harty's Death

On the 8th of June, it will be 25 years since the death of UK chat show host and TV presenter Russell Harty.

Considered by some to be somewhat in the shadow of his contemporary Michael Parkinson, Harty was born on 5th September 1934 in Blackburn, Lancashire.

The son of a market fruit and veg stall-holder, he attended Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School in the town, going on to complete a first class English Literature degree at Exeter College, Oxford.

After graduation, he started work as a teacher at Giggleswick School in Yorkshire where one of his pupils was Richard Whiteley (later remembered as the first host of the cult TV word game “Countdown”). 

His broadcasting career got under way a few years later working for the BBC Third programme reviewing his beloved art and literature.

Soon moving into British TV, he initially fronted an arts programme for ITV and went on to present a celebrity chat show on the channel which was pitted against the BBC’s “Parkinson” show.

In 1975 Harty returned to the BBC to front an early evening chat show which lasted until 1982. It was on this show when he was memorably slapped in the face by singer Grace Jones, after she took offense when Harty turned away from her to talk to another guest.

Grace Jones attacking Harty

Having very much of a camp turn of phrase, he is fondly remembered for the catchphrase "you were, were you not..." when interviewing guests.

Russell Harty passed away in 1988 from Hepatitis B in a Leeds hospital at the young age of 53 and is buried in Giggleswick.

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