Breaking the tradition that television newscasters should be heard, but not seen, Kenneth Kendall was the first reader to be screened by the BBC in September 1955, less than three weeks before ITV came on air with its more relaxed approached to news. But he became increasingly irritated at what he saw as the lowering of standards by news writers and left the BBC to host Channel 4’s Treasure Hunt, which was regularly the station’s most popular show.
Kendall was a schoolmaster before joining the Home Service, now Radio Four, in 1948. On moving to television, it became clear that he was a suave performer, always immaculately attired, and, as a result, he received many letters proposing marriage.
Imperturbability is the hallmark of all outstanding newsreaders, and Kendall’s greatest test came when the crown of one of his front teeth flew out of his mouth during a news bulletin. He carried on as though nothing had happened, emulating his Home Service forebear, Bruce Belfrage, who kept calm and carried on when a German bomb fell on Broadcasting House.
In 1981, complaining of “sloppily written and ungrammatical stories”, Kendall joined Treasure Hunt as its anchorman, giving clues to contestants who shouted out instructions to Anneka Rice, who was in a helicopter, to try to put her on the trail for the ‘treasure’ of £1,000.
Kendall retired to the Isle of Wight, at first running a restaurant and then managing an art gallery specialising in the works of local artists.
Kenneth Kendall, who was born on August 7, 1924, died on December 14, aged 88.