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A blog on the BBC radio programme Just A Minute

Location: Wellington, New Zealand

March 01, 2006

Linda Smith - BBC obituaries

This is how the BBC reported the news

Radio comedian Linda Smith dies

Comic Linda Smith, a regular panellist on BBC Radio 4's The News Quiz, has died of cancer at the age of 48.

The writer and broadcaster was a staple of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and BBC Radio, whose listeners voted her "Wittiest Person" in 2002.

She made frequent appearances on Just A Minute and I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue, as well as the TV shows Have I Got News For You, Room 101 and Mock the Week.

Radio 4 controller Mark Damazer said her passing was "a terrible loss".

"Linda was a Radio 4 giant," he added. "She generated an energy and warmth in every programme she ever did that made her fellow comedians and millions of listeners love her."

News Quiz regular Jeremy Hardy paid an emotional tribute, calling her "the wittiest and brightest person working on TV or radio panel games".

"It was impossible to be in her company for more than a few minutes without laughing," he continued.

"Even when she was very ill, she had her friends laughing and feeling uplifted despite our sadness.

"I am so lucky to have had such a wonderful friend."

Ms Smith, who is survived by her partner Warren Lakin, died on Monday.

Mr Hardy told Radio 4 she had been ill for some time from ovarian cancer.

A special tribute edition of the News Quiz will be broadcast on Friday at 1830 GMT, presented by her fellow panellist Andy Hamilton.

This is her official BBC obituary

Linda Smith: Witty commentator on modern life

Comedian Linda Smith was one of the sharpest performers on the stand-up circuit, but in recent years had become a favourite of diverse audiences on BBC radio and television.

Her roots, in Erith, south-east London, were working-class, but she stubbornly refused to fit any stereotype, her deadpan diatribes about everyday irritations resonating with millions.

She studied English and Drama at Sheffield University and joined a professional touring theatre company in 1983, where she met her partner, Warren Lakin.

Turning to stand-up comedy, she won the Hackney Empire New Act of the Year in 1987.

Throughout the 1990s, she made the annual pilgrimage to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, performing her own show and collaborating with others.

And the mid-90s saw the start of her prolific career on BBC radio, as a regular panellist on the former Radio Five's weekly news satire programme, The Treatment.

From there she graduated to writing and performing in two critically-acclaimed series of her own Radio 4 sitcom, A Brief History of Time Wasting.

She was the first woman team captain and regular on the network's News Quiz and a frequent panel guest on two long-running Radio 4 favourites, Just a Minute and I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue.

Linda Smith also presented Home Truths and Pick of the Week and in 2002 was voted Wittiest Person in a poll of Radio 4 listeners.

She also won a following on television through several appearances on Have I Got News For You, along with Room 101, Q.I., Mock the Week, They Think It's All Over and Call My Bluff, while she contributed her own take on current affairs as a panellist on Question Time.

She still managed to find time for a 35-date national tour in 2004, performing her show, Wrap Up Warm, to sell-out audiences.

Linda Smith blended the topical with the personal, the political with the surreal and silly.

She had a wealth of subjects to grumble about: motorway service stations, the trains, inane daytime television commercials for sun awnings or loans, all delivered in a downbeat fashion that belied a penetrating insight to social trends.

Besides this, Linda Smith was a great fan of the rock musician and actor, Ian Dury, and president of the British Humanist Association.

In this connection, she recently said: "With fundamentalism on the rise, the rational voice of humanism needs to be heard."

Radio 4 Controller Mark Damazer said Linda Smith was a Radio 4 giant.

"She was incredibly funny, but also generated energy and warmth in every programme she ever did", he said.

Jeremy Hardy pays tribute

Linda was diagnosed with ovarian cancer three and a half years ago but she really didn't want people to know.

She was a very proud woman and she hated the cancer. It annoyed her because she loved life.

She wanted to live. I think she thought that by talking about the cancer she was giving it a platform that she didn't think it deserved.

She was a very proud and dignified woman who didn't want to be thought of as a patient or a victim.

She battled very bravely right up to the end.

She didn't want to go, she had so much life in her.

Linda was fantastic to work with. I can honestly say that if you knew she was going to be on the News Quiz, you knew it was going to be great.

She'd make you raise your game and if you weren't on form you could just enjoy listening to Linda.

Her mind was extraordinary. She had a record in her mind of everything she'd ever read or every film she'd seen.

She could quote you Shakespeare or the Bible. She could quote Martin Scorsese or Billy Wilder films.

Linda had the most wonderful, exact terminology.

The quirky English expressions she used were the most wonderful daft ways the English express themselves.

She sorted of flirted with the listener in a way.

When she started there was a degree of snobbery about her voice.

She had a very flat, south-east London, suburban working class, Kentish drone and some people thought: 'What on earth is happening to Radio 4?'

But she won the hearts of the nation and yet she was so savage.

She detested things she thought were fraudulent or pompous or vain.

She hated Tony Blair and the Iraq war and yet could express it in such a dismissive, disdainful but glorious, articulate way.

She lived in Sheffield for many years and I think she acquired a very Yorkshire way of expressing herself.

She was our greatest living Englishwoman. She reminds me of Alan Bennett in that wonderful Yorkshire terminology, the exactitude.

Her partner Warren Lakin was Jewish and had a great influence on her.

She had a very Jewish way of expressing herself in her humour and inflexion.

She absorbed everything and then could replay it.

Away from the microphone she was still hilarious.

Even at the very end, she'd make a very wry joke.

Having a cup of tea with Linda, you'd think this is a cup of tea I am going to enjoy.

She was always funny but not in a knockabout way, she cared passionately about things and people.

She was very loving and very aesthetic. She loved all beautiful things including gardening, theatre and films.

She was so funny. She had such a wicked sense of humour. It just came effortlessly. She didn't even try.

Humour was just in there, trying to get out all the time.


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Blogger Chris-in-Japan said...

here here, saddened whilst smiling in memory of her great intellect and humour.

6:43 am  
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