Kenneth Kendall (7 August 1924 – 14 December 2012) was a British broadcaster. He worked for many years as a newsreader for the BBC, where he was a contemporary of fellow newsreaders Richard Baker and Robert Dougall. He is also remembered as the host of the Channel 4 game show Treasure Hunt, which ran between 1982 and 1989.
Kendall was born in India, where his father, Frederic William Kendall (d. 30 May 1945), worked, and was brought up in Cornwall.
Kendall was educated at Felsted School and Corpus Christi College, Oxford, where he read Modern Languages.
Kendall was a schoolmaster and later a captain in the Coldstream Guards during the Second World War, and was injured on D-Day. He joined the BBC in 1948 as a radio newsreader and transferred to television in 1954. Although he was not the first newsreader on BBC television, Kendall was the first to appear before a camera reading the news in 1955. As he was employed on a freelance basis by the BBC, he also worked as an actor for a repertory company based in Crewe, and briefly at the menswear retailer Austin Reed in Regent Street, where he met actor John Inman and offered him a job in the Crewe theatre company.
Kendall became known for his elegant dress sense and was voted best-dressed newsreader by Style International and No.1 newscaster by Daily Mirror readers in 1979. He left the BBC in 1961, and from 1961 to 1969 was a freelance newsreader, working occasionally for ITN and presenting Southern Television’s Day By Day. He appeared as himself in the Adam Adamant episode “The Doomsday Plan”, in which he is kidnapped and impersonated. He also appeared in a cameo role as a newsreader in 2001: A Space Odyssey, as well as in the Doctor Who serial The War Machines.
He rejoined the BBC in 1969 and finally retired from news reading on 23 December 1981. Kendall’s retirement allowed him to work on the popular Channel Four programme Treasure Hunt throughout its first run (1982–1989), which featured Anneka Rice as a “skyrunner”. He also presented the television programme Songs of Praise.
Soon after retirement from news reading, Kendall lent his voice to the BBC Micro as part of Acorn Computers’ hardware speech synthesis system.
In 2010 he took part in BBC’s The Young Ones, in which six well-known people in their 70s and 80s attempt to overcome some of the problems of ageing by harking back to the 1970s.
Kendall lived in Cowes on the Isle of Wight with his partner Mark Fear, where he was the owner of a marine art gallery, and a keen beekeeper. Before owning the art gallery, he co-ran a restaurant: this was stated in an interview in Radio Times in 1996.
Kendall died on 14 December 2012, following a stroke a few weeks previously. He was survived by Mark Fear, his partner for the last 23 years of his life. The couple entered into a civil partnership in 2006.
On 29 April 2013, Mark Fear, Kendall’s former partner, was found hanged. He was 55 and had committed suicide.