In 1999, Chris Stuart pitched the seemingly wacky idea of Late Night Poker to Channel 4. Its appeal, with cameras under a glass table that could show each player’s cards, was immediate.
Chris also designed – with Rob Thomas – and was executive producer of BBC quiz TV show Only Connect, presented by Victoria Coren Mitchell. Testing the ability to connect seemingly unrelated elements, it started on BBC Four in 2008, is now a mainstay on the BBC Two program and is gearing up for its 18th season.
These are just two aspects of the vast and prolific career Chris, who died of bowel cancer aged 73, enjoyed in television, radio, journalism and music.
For Radio Wales he presented the breakfast show (1978-87) and Saturday afternoon for five years Sportstime. On television, his show Cha Cha Chat ran from 1984 to 1986. When illness forced Ray Moore to quit Radio 2’s morning show in 1988, Chris took over and was a regular on the station for four years, along the way past Auckland. Commonwealth Games (1990). He maintained the link for more than two decades, through Radio 2’s coverage of the annual Festival of Remembrance at London’s Royal Albert Hall (1992-2015).
He also commentated on the Westminster Abbey funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales (1997) and the Queen Mother (2002). For television he presented the Cardiff Singer of the World competition (1989) and for Radio 4 six sets of the science quiz Inspiration! (1996-2004).
Chris’ work approach was built around clear strategic thinking, charm, hard work, humor and a flair for making the most of opportunities. In 1984 he married his second wife, Megan Emery, and in 1993 they set up production company Presentable in Cardiff to make entertainment and music programs for BBC Wales and ITV Wales, with Chris as creative director and Megan as general manager. Its output included outside broadcasts from venues such as the Sydney Opera House, for Max Boyce Down Under (2003), and the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, for the Grand Slam Party (2005), to celebrate the Land of Wales at the Six Nations rugby union trophy.
In 2006, Presentable was acquired by RDF Media. Late Night Poker and its variants continued on Channel 4 until 2011, and the idea was picked up by other channels in the UK and overseas.
Born in Durham, Chris was the son of Nancy (née Elliot) and Tony Stuart, a youth worker. The family moved to Manchester, Hull, Birmingham, London and Nottinghamshire before settling in 1956 in Birstall, Leicestershire, where Tony was organizing secretary of the Leicestershire Rural Community Council.
Chris went to Longslade High School, which became a comprehensive school in the mid-1960s and is now Cedars Academy. There he served as Head Boy and, with a group of sixth graders, took a revue – A Spoonful of Goatherds – to the outskirts of Edinburgh (1967).
At New College, Oxford, Chris took a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (1970), wrote for Cherwell, the University Journal, and had minor roles in plays and reviews, including An Exhibition of Ourselves, who went to the Edinburgh Festival in 1970. .
His career as a journalist began with the Thomson Regional Newspapers Journalist Training Program (1972), which took him to the Western Mail newspaper in Cardiff, where he settled and became a feature writer. But in his mid-twenties he quit journalism to focus on music, spending five years from 1975 alongside his Oxford revue friend Robin Lyons as keyboardist and songwriter with the comedy group Baby. Big.
The group made several television and radio appearances, and Chris continued to collaborate with Lyons on animated children’s television shows: SuperTed (1983-86), Tales of the Tooth Fairies (1993-94 ) and Sali Mali (2001-03 and 2020-21). Chris Summer’s television musical Silence (1995) starred Siân Phillips.
He and I met in Cardiff and worked on various radio and television projects, including Presentable’s Conversations with Rowan Williams series (2003). These talk shows were made as he transitioned from Archbishop of Wales to Archbishop of Canterbury.
Chris is survived by Megan; their daughters, Martha and Rose, and their son, William; a daughter, Joséphine, from her first marriage, which ended in divorce; and three grandchildren, Louis, Matilda and Otis.