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Arthur Bamber GascoigneCBE, FRSL (born 24 January 1935) is a British television presenter and author. He was the original quizmaster on University Challenge, which initially ran from 1962 to 1987.
Family background and early life
Gascoigne is the elder son of Lieutenant-Colonel Derek Ernest Frederick Orby Gascoigne (himself the son of Brigadier-General Sir Ernest Frederick Orby Gascoigne) by his marriage in 1934 to Mary Louisa Hermione O'Neill, a daughter of Captain the Hon. Arthur Edward Bruce O'Neill and Lady Annabel Hungerford Crewe-Milnes.
Gascoigne was the original presenter (from 1962) of the television quiz show University Challenge, based on the US series College Bowl. He held the position for 25 years, until the end of the initial run in 1987. His questioning manner was regarded as firm yet polite. Phrases he often used which became catchphrases include: "Your starter for ten", "fingers on buzzers", and "I'll have to hurry you".
Television and books
Gascoigne is the author of Murgatroyd's Empire, a 1972 satirical novel concerning an entrepreneur who finds an island of pygmies, and trades them arms for treasure, recreating the development of European medieval weaponry and armour.
In 1977, Gascoigne wrote and presented The Christians, a 13-hour television documentary series on the history of Christianity, produced by Granada Television and broadcast on ITV. He wrote a companion book, under the same title, with photography by his wife, Christina Gascoigne, published by Jonathan Cape.
He wrote Quest for the Golden Hare, a 1983 account of the internationally publicised treasure hunt associated with the publication in 1979 of Kit Williams' book, Masquerade. On 8 August 1979, Gascoigne was witness to the burial by Williams of a unique jewelled, solid gold hare pendant in an earthenware jar "somewhere in Britain". The book documents the search and a scandal associated with finding it.
In 1987, Gascoigne presented a documentary series of six 30-minute programmes on Victorian history, Victorian Values, which looked at how Victorian society put in place the infrastructure of the modern welfare state, also produced by Granada Television.
He was the writer and presenter for the TV series The Great Moghuls (1990), a study of the Mughal Empire of India. The series was based on Gascoigne's 1971 book of the same name, which features photographs by his wife.
Gascoigne has established an online history encyclopaedia, HistoryWorld, and TimeSearch which presents multiple searchable timelines collected from various websites.
1973: The Treasures and Dynasties of China (with photographs by Christina Gascoigne and Derrick Witty), Jonathan Cape. ISBN0-224-00925-7 Republished 2003 as A Brief History of the Dynasties of ChinaISBN1-84119-791-2