Showbiz veteran Lionel Blair dies aged 92

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·2-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Lionel Blair (Dominic Lipinski/PA) (PA Archive)
Lionel Blair (Dominic Lipinski/PA) (PA Archive)

Showbusiness veteran Lionel Blair has died aged 92, his agent has told the PA news agency.

Across a seven-decade career, he worked on the small screen and stage as an actor, tap dancer, presenter and choreographer.

However, he was perhaps best known for being a team captain on Give Us A Clue, the ITV game show.

Cilla Black with Lionel Blair (Tim Ockenden/PA) (PA Wire)
Cilla Black with Lionel Blair (Tim Ockenden/PA) (PA Wire)

Blair died in the early hours on Thursday morning, his agent said.

The performer was born in Canada in 1928 before moving to Britain at the age of two.

He grew up in Stamford Hill, north London and was evacuated to Oxford when war broke out, with his sister Joyce and mother Deborah.

His family were Jewish but not orthodox and their habit of eating bacon was frowned upon by their neighbours.

Blair cited Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers and Shirley Temple as figures who inspired him to pursue a life in showbusiness.

In the West End he played the Child Catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the London Palladium, and had roles in Lady Be Good, Mr Cinders and Pageant.

Sammy Davis Jr, Joyce Blair and Lionel Blair (PA) (PA Archive)
Sammy Davis Jr, Joyce Blair and Lionel Blair (PA) (PA Archive)

His career saw him engage in a dance-off against Sammy Davis Jr at the Royal Variety Performance in 1961, appear in the Beatles film A Hard Day’s Night and choreograph big screen features such as The Magic Christian.

On TV he choreographed and appeared in 1970s programmes such as The Mike and Bernie Show, The Tommy Cooper Hour and the Jimmy Tarbuck Show.

He pivoted to judging with New Faces in the late 70s, a talent show forerunner to series such as Pop Idol and X Factor.

Blair later became a household name opposite Una Stubbs in the long-running Give Us a Clue.

He reprised the role in a 2011 Comic Relief special and was back on screens for Celebrity Big Brother in 2014.

He spent 15 days in the house, exiting third after boxer Evander Holyfield and model Jasmine Waltz.

In 2017 he joined The Real Marigold Hotel and travelled around India with other elderly celebrities.

He married Susan Blair in 1967 and the couple share three children.

Read More

Entertainer Lionel Blair dies aged 92

Showbiz veteran Lionel Blair enjoyed glittering career on stage and screen

University staff vote in favour of strike action in pensions dispute

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting