Blockbusters host Bob Holness has died aged 83.

Holness, best known as the host of the ITV1 quiz Blockbusters, had a career spanning almost 60 years.

A statement released by his family said he ‘died peacefully in his sleep early this morning’.

Holness, who suffered a number of strokes and has been in a nursing home, leaves his wife Mary, three children and seven grandchildren.

Holness was born in Natal, South Africa, but grew up in Kent after his family moved back to England.

He returned to South Africa as a young man to begin a career as an actor and broadcaster that saw him star in radio plays, including one where he played an early version of superspy James Bond.

He returned to England in 1961 and became a familiar face on television, but it was roles as chairman of BBC1’s Call My Bluff and host of Blockbusters that made him a household name.

The quiz, which ended in 1993, featured student contestants answering a series of trivia questions based on the letters of the alphabet.

A regular feature of the show saw Holness trying to keep a straight face despite facing sniggering students asking him: “Can I have a P please Bob?” – a question he claimed never to be fed up with hearing.

He said: “People say ‘Don’t you ever get fed up with it?’ But I didn’t. I loved everything to do with the show so it always got a very positive reception from me, however many times I heard it.”