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Location: Wellington, New Zealand

March 01, 2006

Linda - obituaries

This is the Times obituary

Radio comedian Linda Smith dies, aged 48
By Adam Sherwin, Media Correspondent, for Times Online

Broadcasters paid tribute tonight to Linda Smith, the deadpan comedian and panel show regular, who has died of cancer aged 48.

Voted the "wittiest living person" by radio listeners in 2002, Smith became one of the small band of women who made it to the top of the male-dominated world of comedy.

Listeners delighted in her jaundiced or plain surreal observations on the Radio 4’s Just A Minute and The News Quiz, where she became the first female team captain.

She enjoyed a successful career on television with a string of appearances on numerous panel programmes including Have I Got News For You, QI and Mock The Week.

Smith never disguised her left-wing politics, imbibed from a working-class upbringing, and became President of the British Humanist Association. Her description of David Blunkett as "Satan’s bearded folk singer" has dogged the politician.

She also wrote and starred in two highly successful series of her radio situation comedy Linda Smith's A Brief History Of Time Wasting.

Smith had been ill for some time with ovarian cancer and died on Monday. The BBC declined to give further details of her illness. She is survived by her partner, Warren Lakin.

Jeremy Hardy, her regular News Quiz sparring partner, said: "In a second, she could summon up the perfect word, the daftest English expression, the most appropriate literary quotation or line of movie dialogue, or the most savage put-down of any fraud, bully or tyrant in the news."

Hardy described Smith as "the wittiest and brightest person working on television or radio panel games. Her banter and flights of fancy were amazing. I am so lucky to have had such a wonderful friend."

He added: "Even when she was very ill, she had her friends laughing and feeling uplifted despite our sadness. I loved her very much."

Mark Damazer, Radio 4 Controller, said: "Linda Smith was a Radio 4 giant. She was incredibly funny. She generated an energy and warmth in every programme she ever did that made her fellow comedians and millions of listeners love her. It’s a terrible loss."

Smith came to prominence with a run of hit shows at the Edinburgh fringe and won Hackney Empire’s New London Comic Award. She established the permanently dissatisfied persona of a woman who has "decided to stay in my late thirties forever."

She created meticulously observed routines about Britishness, delivered with warmth. Of Jesus, she said: "Despite all those blonde paintings we know he wasn’t English, because he wore sandals - but never with socks."

She poked fun at her town of origin, Erith in Kent. "They had a competition to find a new name for the Erith Leisure Centre," she said in one of her routines. "The winning name was ‘The Erith Leisure Centre.’"

When it was mooted that the Duchess of York might be taken off the Civil List and have to make her own living, she imagined her living on a council estate: "I can’t afford shoes for the kids: I’ve had to send Eugenie to school in skis."

Radio 4 announced a special tribute edition of the News Quiz this Friday at 6.30pm presented by Andy Hamilton, her friend and fellow panellist.




This is how the Stage reported Linda's death

Radio comedian Linda Smith, who appeared on shows such as Radio 4's The News Quiz, Just A Minute and I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue has died of cancer aged 48.

The writer and broadcaster, who penned and starred in two series of popular sitcom Linda Smith's Brief History of Time Wasting, was voted the wittiest person on radio in a listener's poll in 2002.

Mark Damazer, controller, Radio 4 said: "Linda Smith was a Radio 4 giant. She was incredibly funny. She generated an energy and warmth in every programme she ever did that made her fellow comedians and millions of listeners love her. It's a terrible loss."

Smith also had a successful career on television with a string of appearances on popular shows including Have I Got News For You, QI and Mock the Week.

Jeremy Hardy, comedian and News Quiz regular, paid tribute to Smith who died on Monday. He said: "I am so lucky to have had such a wonderful friend. Working with someone so funny always reminded me of what comedy is all about. Her banter and flights of fancy were amazing. She was the wittiest and brightest person working on TV or radio panel games. And it was impossible to be in her company for more than a few minutes without laughing. Even when she was very ill, she had her friends laughing and feeling uplifted despite our sadness."

There will be a special tribute edition of the News Quiz on March 3 at 6.30pm presented by Andy Hamilton.

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