Humphrey Richard Adeane "Humph" Lyttelton was born on 23 May 1921 at Eton College, Berkshire, where his father, the Hon. George William Lyttelton, the second son of the 8th Viscount Cobham, was a house master. His mother's maiden name was Adeane. He was educated at Sunningdale Preparatory School and Eton College. While at Eton he developed a love of jazz, taught himself to play the trumpet, and in 1936 formed a band which included future journalist Ludovic Kennedy on drums.
After leaving school he worked at Port Talbot steel plate works for a while. In 1941 he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Grenadier Guards. He saw cation at Salerno during Operation Avalanche. After demobilisation he attended Camberwell Art College for two years, where he met cartoonist and clarinet player Wally Fawkes. Fawkes helped him get a job as a cartoonist for the Daily Mail, where position he held from 1949 to 1956. During this time he wrote scripts for Fawkes' strip Flook. He also drew occasional cartoons for Bystander, Punch and other publications.
Lyttelton was part of the post-war British jazz boom. He recorded with Sidney Bechet in 1949 and Buck Clayton in the early '60s. In 1956 he had his only pop hit, "Bad Penny Blues", which spent six weeks in the UK charts. The Humphrey Lyttelton Band toured regularly and helped start the careers of several notable jazz musicians, including Tony Coe and Alan Barnes. From 1967 he presented The Best of Jazz on BBC Radio 2. From 1972 he was the chairman of the BBC Radio 4 comedy panel show I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue, with a distinctive line in deadpan double entendres. He continued all these activities until his death.
He married Pat Braithwaite in 1948. They had one daughter, but divorced. He married Jill Richardson in 1952, and they had two sons and a daughter. In April 2008 he was taken into hospital with an aortic aneurysm. He died peacefully following surgery on 25 April.
- Steve Holland, Humphrey Lyttelton (1921-2008), Bear Alley, 26 April 2008