Richard Whiteley (1943-2005)


John Richard Whiteley, OBE, DL (m. 1962), was an English broadcaster and journalist.

Whiteley was born on 28 December 1943 in Bradford, West Riding of Yorkshire. At 13, he won a scholarship to Giggleswick School, Yorkshire. In later life he became a governor of the school. Leaving with seven O-levels and three A-levels, he read English at Christ's College, graduating in 1965.

On leaving Cambridge in July 1965, Whiteley served three years as a trainee at ITN but left to join the newly created Yorkshire Television in July 1968. In 1982, Yorkshire Television began to produce Countdown, copying a French quiz show format, Des chiffres et des lettres. Whiteley was chosen as host, and
continued with the show when it moved to Channel 4 as the first programme broadcast by the new station.

Whiteley is best known for his twenty-three years as host of the game show. Thanks to over twenty years' worth of nightly instalments of Countdown as well as his work on the Yorkshire magazine programme Calendar and various other television projects, at the time of his death Whiteley was believed to have clocked more hours on British television screens—and more than 10,000 appearances—than anyone else, apart from Carole Hersee, the young girl who appeared on the BBC's Test Card F.

Whiteley also had his own chatshow on BBC1. He was the subject of This Is Your Life in March 1997 when he was surprised by Michael Aspel on the set of the ITV soap opera, Emmerdale.

In 2001, Whiteley stood as rector for Dundee University.

He died on 26 June 2005 due to complications following a heart operation.