British television presenter Richard Whiteley dies

Sunday, June 26, 2005

British television host Richard Whiteley, most famous for his role presenting the British television game show Countdown, has died aged 61 at Leeds General Infirmary.

The cause of death is reported to have been complications resulting from an operation on his heart to repair an infected valve. He had been admitted to Bradford Royal Infirmary with pneumonia on May 6, falling into a coma shortly there after.

His 23 years of hosting Countdown made him a household name among television viewers in the UK, having previously anchored Yorkshire's Calendar local affairs program. The avuncular figure was fond of word play and possessed a striking wit.

Until this May, Whiteley had never missed presenting an edition of the show. Countdown was the first programme to be broadcast on the new Channel 4 when it began broadcasting in 1982.

He was awarded an OBE in June 2004.

Whiteley leaves behind a partner of 11 years, actress Kathryn Apanowicz.