Kenneth Kendall (7 August 1924 – 14 December 2012) was a British broadcaster. He worked for many years as a newsreader for the BBC, where he was a contemporary of fellow newsreaders Richard Baker and Robert Dougall. He is also remembered as the host of the Channel 4 game show Treasure Hunt, which ran between 1982 and 1989, as well as the host of "The World Tonight" in the 1968 science fiction film 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Kendall was born in India where his father, Frederic William Kendall (d. 30 May 1945), worked. He was brought up in Cornwall. Kendall was educated at Felsted School in Essex, England. He read Modern Languages at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, for one year before being called up to the British Army.
Kendall joined the Coldstream Guards where he was commissioned as a lieutenant. He arrived in Normandy ten days after D Day but was wounded about a month later. In 1945, he was among 100,000 British military personnel sent to Palestine. In 1946 he was demobilised from the Guards as a captain.
After leaving the army, Kendall returned to Oxford to complete his Modern Language degree. He hoped to join the Foreign Office but instead joined the BBC in 1948 as a radio newsreader. In 1954 he transferred to television. Although he was not the first newsreader on BBC television, Kendall was the first to appear in front of a camera reading the news in 1955. As he was employed on a freelance basis by the BBC, he also worked as an actor for a repertory company based in Crewe, and briefly at the menswear retailer Austin Reed in Regent Street, where he met actor John Inman and offered him a job in the Crewe theatre company.
Kendall became known for his elegant dress sense and was voted best-dressed newsreader by Style International and No.1 newscaster by Daily Mirror readers in 1979. He left the BBC in 1961, and from 1961 to 1969 was a freelance newsreader, working occasionally for ITN and presenting Southern Television's Day By Day. He appeared as himself in the Adam Adamant episode "The Doomsday Plan", in which he is kidnapped and impersonated. He also appeared in the Doctor Who serial The War Machines.
He rejoined the BBC in 1969 and finally retired from news reading on 23 December 1981. Kendall's retirement allowed him to work on the popular Channel Four programme Treasure Hunt throughout its first run (1982–1989), which featured Anneka Rice as a "skyrunner". He also presented the television programme Songs of Praise.
Soon after retirement from news reading, Kendall lent his voice to the BBC Micro as part of Acorn Computers' hardware speech synthesis system.
In 2010 he took part in BBC's series The Young Ones in which six well-known people in their 70s and 80s attempt to overcome some of the problems of ageing by harking back to the 1970s.
Kendall lived in Cowes on the Isle of Wight with his partner Mark Fear, whom he had been with since 1989. Fear was the owner of a marine art gallery and a beekeeper. The couple entered into a civil partnership in 2006.
Kendall died on 14 December 2012, following a stroke a few weeks previously. On 29 April 2013, his partner Mark Fear was found hanged. An inquest concluded that he had committed suicide because he was "overcome by grief".
- ^ a b "Kenneth Kendall, former broadcaster, dies". BBC. 14 December 2012. Retrieved 14 December 2012.
- ^ "Ancestry.com. England, Andrews Newspaper Index Cards, 1790-1976 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010". Retrieved 27 June 2011.
- ^ Dennis Barker Obituary: Kenneth Kendall, The Guardian, 14 December 2012
- ^ Obituary of John Inman - 'The Independent' newspaper
- ^ "Kenneth Kendall quits in anger". The Glasgow Herald. 22 December 1981. p. 1.
- ^ "Acorn Speech Synthesiser upgrade at". Retro-kit.co.uk. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
- ^ "BBC One - The Young Ones". Bbc.co.uk. 22 December 2010. Retrieved 15 December 2012.
- ^ Telegraph obituary
- ^ "Kenneth Kendall's partner committed suicide 'overcome by grief'". BBC News. 29 October 2013. Retrieved 30 October 2013.