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Bamber Gascoigne, who was the original presenter of popular TV quiz show “University Challenge,” has died after a brief illness. He was 87.

Gascoigne presented the show, which aired on U.K. broadcaster ITV, from 1962-1987. The show was later revived on the BBC in 1994 and continues being aired.

2006 film “Starter for 10” revolved around “University Challenge.” It starred James McAvoy, Rebecca Hall and Benedict Cumberbatch and featured Mark Gatiss, who would go on to write BBC series “Sherlock,” as Gascoigne.

David Nicholls, who wrote the book “Starter for 10,” on which the film was based, said: “Bamber was a big part of my TV childhood and was very gracious about his fictional cameo in ‘Starter For 10.’ He came to the book launch and left me quite starstruck.”

Gascoigne was also known for presenting ITV documentary series “The Christians” (1977) and Channel 4 series “The Great Moghuls” (1990).

Stephen Fry, who participated in “University Challenge” in 1980, said: “Oh no, not Bamber. He was so kind and warm to us students who sat nervously at those desks. Such an elegant, intelligent man.”

Peter Gwyn, executive producer of “University Challenge,” said in a statement: “Bamber was unlike anyone else on television when the program started back in 1962 – he was utterly charming, erudite and, at times, seemingly omniscient, and his 25 years spent presenting the program established it firmly as the institution it is now. He was a unique presence in British broadcasting and he’ll be very sadly missed.”

Gascoigne is survived by his wife Christina.

Christina Gascoigne said in a statement: “Bamber and I had a fantastic 62 years together full of friends and adventures. We never had a quarrel, not even when I turned the car over while we were driving to India.

“He was an incredibly generous man and everything he did was pointed towards sharing the gifts of his own life with others – he was even instrumental in the creation of a new Thames boat: the skerry (a cross between the skiff and the wherry) so that schoolchildren could enjoy the river as much as he did.

“For 30 years, we swam in the river every day possible (only in the summer). He loved opera and was thrilled that he could have an opera house in the garden he inherited from his aunt Mary Roxburghe.

“It was 50 years ago that he hosted ‘University Challenge,’ but that is what everyone remembers. That and his limitless thirst for knowledge, which he retained like a sponge.”