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Peter Jones on Just A Minute
Describing "what I saw on a wall"
 real 28k

Monday, 10 April, 2000, 17:07 GMT 18:07 UK
Comedy veteran Peter Jones dies
Peter Jones
Peter Jones: The Rag Trade was a massive hit
Actor and comedian Peter Jones - the voice of The Book in The Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy - has died after a short illness, aged 79.

Jones was also known for being a senior panellist on the BBC Radio 4 game show Just A Minute, where he was one of the original contestants along with Kenneth Williams, Derek Nimmo and Clement Freud.

He also appeared in TV comedy The Rag Trade, which drew up to 14 million viewers in the early 1960s.

In it, he played long-suffering factory boss Mr Fenner constantly trying to clear the hurdles erected by Miriam Karlin's union convenor.

Jones in The Rag Trade
In the Rag Trade with Reg Varney
The series was phenomenally successful, bringing Miriam Karlin's catchphrase Everybody Out! into general use.

It was also brought successfully to the West End stage.

After leaving what he called a tenth-rate public school at the age of 16, he got his first acting job at the Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton, but it did not last long. He was sacked after five minutes.

However, his belief in himself overcame that of others and he went on to enjoy a showbusiness career lasting more than half a century.

Wartime debut

Peter Jones was born at Wem in Shropshire. He made his first broadcast in a production of Arnold Bennett's The Card from Birmingham.

His West End debut was during the war, and he went on to appear in a number of London productions, including a festival of English comedy at the Arts Theatre.

In 1952 he was in his own first play, Sweet Madness with Richard Attenborough. He wrote several plays, some for television, and appeared in many more.

Jones in the 1960s
Jones was a stalwart of TV and radio for 50 years
In 1964-5 he toured Australia and New Zealand in Boeing-Boeing.

He was also in several films, the first, Fanny by Gaslight, in 1944. Others included Albert R.N. and Romanoff and Juliet.

On radio, Peter Jones became known for his quirky comments in Just A Minute.

He maintained throughout more than 25 years playing the game that he never developed a talent for the contest, yet he was always entertaining on whatever subject he was offered.

He had also been questionmaster of Twenty Questions.

Later, in The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, he was The Book, narrating the plot, a role that well expressed the quirkiness of his own brand of humour.

He appeared in the 1970s radio version of the show, and stayed with it when it transferred to television in the 1980s.

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