Bamber Gascoigne

Category: All Harkness Stories /  Humanities /  Journalism, Broadcast, Films & TV /  Up to 1959 / 

Bamber Gascoigne (CFF 1958-59) FRSL is best known for his television role as chairman of University Challenge for twenty-five years (1962-1987). He can be thanked for introducing the following catchphrases into our daily language - "Your starter for ten" and "fingers on the buzzers".  Bamber was a Commonwealth Fund Fellow in 1958 where he spent a year studying playwriting at Yale. He 'had already written a revue (which ran for nine months in London's West End) while a student of English Literature at Magdalene College, Cambridge, and on his return he became a theatre critic. Bamber has also been the author and presenter of many documentary history series and has published many books. His Encyclopedia of Britain covers all the best-known aspects of British history and culture. For the last fifteen years he has been writing a history of the world on the internet, HistoryWorld ( Bamber has been a Trustee of the National Gallery, Trustee of the Tate Gallery, member of the Council of the National Trust, and a director of the Royal Opera House. He is a patron of the Museum of Richmond. In 2014 he inherited a large country house dating back to the 16th Century, West Horsley Place. Soon after he received a proposal from Grange Park Opera to build an opera house close to the garden. Bamber and his wife Christina established the Mary Roxburghe Trust to restore the house and involve the public in many different activities there. To fund this, they donated to the charity the estate and all its assets. Grange Park Opera, with their magical new opera house in the woods, opened and completed their first season in 2017 to critical acclaim. (This was written in 2018. Bamber passed away in February 2022)