Robert Alan Monkhouse was born in Beckenham, Kent, on 1 June 1928, son of Wilfred Adrian Monkhouse and his wife Dorothy Muriel, née Hansard. He was educated at Goring Hall School, Worthing, and Dulwich College, where he met his frequent collaborator Denis Gifford, and from which he was expelled.
While still at school, he wrote for The Beano and The Dandy, and drew for The Hotspur, The Wizard and Adventure. After leaving school, he drew strips including "Sam the Salesman" in Comic Adventures (1946), "Luke the Lumberjack" in Funny Tuppenny (1947), "Dippy the Duke" and "Stanley the Student" in Okay Comic (1947), "Ivor Dimwitt" in Crash Comics (1948), "Beanbrain" in Jolly Arrow (1948), "Fun and Games" in Jolly Chuckles (1948), "Western Roundup" in Jolly Cowboy (1948), "The Tornado" and "Stuporman" in Oh Boy! Comics (1948-51), "Pat Peril" in Modern Comics (1949) and "Scampy" in Super Jolly Roger (1949). Other titles he drew for include All Fun Comic (1946-48), All Star Comic (1946), Bimbo Goes to the Moon (1946), The Winner Comic (1947-48), Smasher Comics (1947), Amazing Comics (1949) and Super Star (1949).
He did his national service in the RAF, completing it in 1948. In the late 1940s he and Gifford toured the South-East of England as a comedy double-act with the West Bees Concert Party. In the 1950s they set up their own publishing company, Streamline, publishing reprints of American superhero comics.
He became a radio comedy scriptwriter, working with Denis Goodwin on "Smash Hits" on Radio Luxembourg and material for Arthur Askey, Max Miller and others. They also wrote jokes for American comedians touring the UK, including Bob Hope. Goodwin broke up their partnership in 1962 to go and work for Hope.
Monkhouse's performing career also took off. In 1956, he hosted the first of over 30 TV game shows, Do You Trust Your Wife. He became a fixture on British TV, well-know for his slick delivery of terrible (scripted) jokes and his ability to ad lib. He had his own chat show, The Bob Monkhouse Show, on the BBC in the 1980s, and a comedy show, Bob Monkhouse on the Spot, in the 1990s. In his later years he hosted a show on Radio 2, The Monkhouse Archive, a compilation of classic comedy clips from the previous 50 years.
He was married twice, to Elizabeth Thompson in 1949, with whom he had two sons and an adopted daughter, and to Jacqueline Harding in 1973. He was awarded the OBE in 1993. He died of prostate cancer on 29 December 2003.
- Alan Clark, Dictionary of British Comic Artists, Writers and Editors, The British Library, 1998, pp. 113-114
- Denis Gifford, Encyclopedia of Comic Characters, Longman, 1987, p. 230
- Michael Simkins, "Monkhouse, Robert Alan [Bob] (1928–2003)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Jan 2007; online edn, May 2011, accessed 23 May 2014