Former BBC Radio York presenter Victor Lewis-Smith has died.
The writer, broadcaster and satirist died aged 65 following a short illness, his agent said.
Outside a career in TV production, Lewis-Smith was known for his surreal style of comedy and his hoax calls targeting high-profile figures such as Diana, Princess of Wales.
His other targets included the Harrods department store and the Jim’ll Fix It TV series, and his calls, often broadcast as part of his radio shows, would be cited by comics including Sacha Baron Cohen as inspiration.
Born in Essex, he began his broadcasting career at BBC Radio Medway before studying music in the late 1970s at the University of York.
He then joined BBC Radio York as a presenter.
“When we were setting up Radio York we were trying to find people who weren’t little grey men,” the station’s first manager John Jefferson told YorkMix Radio.
“Victor had just left the university music department with a trail of interesting stories behind him – larger than life stories. He walked into our lives and we took him on.
“Wisely or unwisely, we gave him a Sunday morning show called News Buff.
“And we were absolutely amazed by the sorts of creativity he brought to that – he had a very different way of using radio to amuse people.
“I sense that, if it was today’s BBC, both Victor and probably myself would have had the sack a long time ago.
“But it’s nearly 40 years ago, and we were able to give people a bit of free rein to try and create something that was different and Victor was very, very different – and probably about the most talented person I’ve ever actually worked with.”
Lewis-Smith later joined Radio 4 where he was a staff producer for Midweek and Start The Week during the mid-1980s.
He brought his anarchic style to the long-running show Loose Ends.
Lewis-Smith left the BBC to pursue a career as a print journalist, working as chief television reviewer for the London Evening Standard for more than 15 years and as a columnist for the Daily Mirror for a decade.
He also served as restaurant reviewer for Harpers & Queen and spent 30 years contributing to Private Eye.
In 1996, Lewis-Smith posed as astrophysicist Stephen Hawking using the same electronic voice technology as the professor to hoax Diana.
Their freewheeling conversation, covering the now King and the Clinton family, was released in its entirety in 2015 after being kept in a safe for two decades.
His television production company, Associated Rediffusion Productions, has been behind numerous programmes including TV Offal (1997-1998) and Keith Meets… with stand-up Keith Allen for Channel 4.
His final production, Hitler’s Jazz Band, will be broadcast by Sky Arts on Wednesday December 14 at 9pm.
He is survived by his wife Virginia and his daughter Lucia