Friday 17 June 2022

Another Amis

 Today is the centenary of the birth of the urbane John Amis, broadcaster, journalist and musical all-rounder.  A cousin of the more famous Kingsley, he was educated at Dulwich College (alma mater of P.G. Wodehouse, Raymond Chandler, C.S. Forester, Michael Ondaatje and indeed Bob Monkhouse) and had all manner of jobs in the music business, at one point turning the pages for Dame Myra Hess during her famous wartime concerts in the National Gallery, at another organising Gerard Hoffnung's anarchic performances. In his brief career as a tenor, he sang the role of Ishmael in Bernard Herrmann's cantata Moby-Dick and the Emperor in Turandot. After moving into broadcasting as a producer and presenter, he found wider fame with the radio (and later TV) series My Music, on which he became a regular panellist, along with two old friends of this blog, Frank Muir and Denis Norden. On Muir's suggestion, he gave up trying to compete with Frank and Denis in comic repartee and concentrated on music-related anecdotes, of which he had a plentiful store. Everyone on that show had to sing a bit, regardless of vocal talent – Muir and Norden's contributions (often from music-hall repertoire) were wonderfully game – and Amis not only sang but showed himself to be a skilled siffleur (surely the only thing he had in common with Wittgenstein). He died in 2013, at the ripe age of 91. 

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