"Stars pay tribute to 'comedy genius' Took"
published on BBC News ( on Wednesday, 3 July 2002
Saturday, 6 July 2002

Scriptwriter and presenter Barry Took has been remembered as a "comedy genius" by friends and stars at a memorial service in London.

Took, who helped create a string of classic TV and radio comedies, including Round the Horne, died aged 73 in March after a battle with cancer.

Monty Python stars John Cleese and Terry Jones, whose careers Took helped launch, were at St John's Wood Church in north London for the service on Wednesday.

Alan Coren, a panellist on BBC Radio 4's The News Quiz that was once hosted by Took, and Harry Potter actress Miriam Margolyes were also present.

As well as writing hit shows like Round the Horne, Beyond Our Ken and Take It From Here, Took was a successful TV and radio presenter, hosting Points of View and panel games including The News Quiz.

BBC Radio 2 controller Jim Moir, who was unable to attend the service, wrote of a "comedy genius" and a "great laughter-maker" in a tribute printed in the order of service.

"I count it a privilege to have bandied words with the comedy alchemist who created a golden age of radio entertainment and whose vision and encouragement gave television some of its ground-breaking comedy of the 70s," he wrote.

"We last met over a lunch table. As always he was smiling, full of banter and ready to laugh at the general nonsense. Courteous and wise, he encouraged me greatly."

Took died in his sleep at a nursing home in London in the early hours of Easter Sunday after being taken ill in December 2001.

Took started his career as a stand-up comedian, but soon formed a writing partnership with Marty Feldman, who he had met while performing at a variety show at the old York Empire.

The pair were the main writers on Round the Horne, the 1960s radio show that continued the comedy tradition started by The Goons.

It starred Kenneth Horne and Kenneth Williams.

Took also wrote a number of other radio shows, later moving to television with comedies including Bootsie and Snudge, which starred Alfie Bass and Bill Fraser.

He became the voice of viewers when presenting TV's Points of View, and chaired The News Quiz.

In that show, he kept the panel in order and the show proved such a success that it provided the basis for TV's Have I Got News For You?