Montague Modlyn

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Montague ("Monty") Modlyn (23 May 1921 – 6 May 1994)[1] was a British journalist, best known as a radio and TV presenter. Modlyn worked extensively on radio and TV, often as a roving reporter. His personalised car number plate was MM 405, which were his initials and the number of lines on early TV sets.

Modlyn was born in Lambeth, the son of a Jewish tailor, and left school at 14. He worked as a proofreader's assistant for the Daily Mail and then wrote for the South London Press and the Evening Standard. His first broadcast was Down Lambeth Way, a talks programme for Forces radio. He was an outside broadcaster for the Jack de Manio early morning radio programme Today. In the 1960s he did pilot shows for Tyne Tees TV, including a Christmas Special.

He cultivated an East End working-class image, together with an apparent lack of respect for the rich and famous. His classic interview in this vein was with Ugandan dictator Idi Amin Dada, whom he asked how many people he had murdered. Amin responded "You very cheeky man!" Modlyn was delighted by that, and adopted a theme song:

Pardon my cheek, and the way that I speak, but no matter where I go
To common or gentry, I talk element'ry
In the only way I know.

Former BBC Producer Roger Ordish has claimed as part of an audiobook 'extra' to the documentary maker Louis Theroux's autobiography, that Modlyn was his first choice to present what later became titled Jim'll Fix It but that he was overruled.

On LBC radio he presented Monty Modlyn at Large. He also presented a series on LBC called Monty's Pub where he visited a different public house every week. As well as pubs, Modlyn had a fondness for smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels, which he would consume on air each week during his Sunday evening phone-in show on LBC. In the summer of 1979, Jeremy Beadle approached LBC and told them to sack Modlyn, let him take over the show, and he would give them a young audience. This Beadle achieved until his own sacking in June 1980.[2]

His widow Dorothy died in January 2017.


  1. ^ Anthony Hayward "Obituary: Monty Modlyn", The Independent, 14 May 1994
  2. ^ Watch Out! My Autobiography – Jeremy Beadle with Alec Lom (Century, 1998)