Henry Blofeld, renamed as Blowers by Brian Johnston when he joined Test Match Special in 1972, was the longest serving member of TMS when he finally hung up his microphone, at Lord’s, in 2017. The author of many books, Henry is still in much demand for his hilarious contributions to newspaper columns, articles and TV/Radio interviews.
About Henry Blofeld
Henry Blofeld is an exceptional raconteur not only on all things cricket but about his incredible life experiences which include driving from London to Bombay in 1976 to appearing in a series the TV show Real Marigold Hotel which was made in India in 2019 with the likes of Britt Ekland, Zandra Rhodes, Barabra Dickson and Paul Chuckle.
Henry Blofeld may have left Test Match Special in 2017 but this was still not the end of an extraordinary career.
After 46 years describing cricket all over the world in those inimitable and charmingly plummy tones, and writing about it in newspapers for even longer, his eyes finally made commentary hazardous.
He was a wonderfully successful schoolboy cricketer scoring a hundred at Lord’s in 1956 at the age of sixteen. People then were even talking of him as a future England player.
The following year he was let down by his personal navigational system when he bicycled into a bus and was left unconscious for many days. His cricket was never the same again.
In 1959, he managed, with an excessive amount of luck, to get into a weak Cambridge University side and scored a first-class hundred, also at Lord’s.
Henry Blofeld’s passionate love of cricket
Cricket remained Henry’s first love and in 1962 he began to work as a freelance cricket writer for The Times. In the next few years, he wrote for The Guardian, The Observer, the Daily Telegraph and the Sunday Express.
In the winter of 1963/64, he covered England’s tour of India for The Guardian, The Daily Sketch and The Observer. He fell in love with India and with the life of a cricket correspondent. His die was set.
He also came within two hours of playing in the Second Test of that series, in Mumbai, when as a result of illness and injury, it looked as if England would only have ten fit men. At the last moment, the vice-captain, Mickey Stewart, who was in hospital, decided he would be able to get out of bed and play.
Broadcasting came later. Blofeld covered his first county cricket match for the BBC at the end of May 1962. Then it all happened quickly for the following week he was chosen to commentate on two one-day internationals against Australia later that same summer.
His voice and command of the English language had impressed the bosses at Broadcasting House.
Joining the team on the iconic Test Match Special
The TMS team in those days contained a formidable array of broadcasters. It was led by the immortal Hampshires tones of John Arlott, and the clipped joviality of Brian Johnston.
For some time Blofeld was not asked to be much more than an occasional performer. There was little room for him for Alan Gibson, Christopher Martin-Jenkins and Don Mosey were also around.
His broadcasting opportunities for the BBC overseas were few as the official Cricket Correspondent was sent to cover the tours. When TMS first mounted its own commentary overseas, from India in 1976/77, Blofeld was on hand as a journalist and was co-opted as part of the commentary team and he helped overseas from then on.
From his earliest days as a broadcaster, he often worked for stations overseas. He commentated for a commercial network in Australia each year and for ten years every February and March he helped Television New Zealand with their coverage of home series in New Zealand. He also did local commentary in the West Indies.
An everlasting love for adventure
Henry Blofeld’s life was also filled with exciting and unlikely adventures. He and John Woodcock, the famous Cricket Correspondent of The Times, were the joint inspiration behind a famous drive to India in a 1921 Rolls Royce.
In early October 1976, Woodcock and Blofeld and three friends set off from London and completed the journey in 46 days arriving in Mumbai just in time for Woodcock and Blofeld to begin their newspaper coverage of Tony Greig’s England side in India in 1976/77.
In April 1980, Blofeld went as joint manager with fellow former Norfolk cricketer and England batsman, Peter Parfitt, as joint manager of a side chosen by Derrick Robins to tour six South American countries in just under a month.
It was as much fun as it sounds as we travelled from Caracas to Quito, to Lima, Santiago, Buenos Aires, San Paulo and Rio.
Life After Cricket
By the time his cricket commentary ended, Blofeld had already been performing one- and two-man shows in theatres all around the UK. He also did some two-man shows, first with John Bly, the beautifully dressed and hugely knowledgeable and charming Antiques Road Show expert.
Then he teamed up with his great friend, Test Match Special producer for 34 years, Peter Baxter, and then with former and formidable England off spinner Graeme Swan.
Blowers as he is affectionately known often tours with yet another highly entertaining one-man show, My Dear Old Things.
Oh yes, and he has also written twenty books, about cricket and the many adventures the game has led him to in an extraordinarily varied and entertaining and exciting life.
- Sports Broadcasting
- After-dinner speaking