By JOHN F. BURNS writing in The New Yorker, April 16, 2009
In more than 40 years as a broadcaster, right up to the last weeks before his death, Sir Clement established himself as one of Britain’s most recognizable personalities. He cultivated a reputation as a grumpy, irritable but hugely entertaining performer.
He won widespread public affection, particularly for his appearances since 1967 as a relentlessly inventive, assertive and witty panelist on the 30-minute radio show “Just a Minute,” in which contestants vie to speak on offbeat topics for 60 seconds without “hesitation, repetition or deviation.”
His broadcast career began with appearances in television advertisements for a dog food, then called Minced Morsels, in which he offered himself as a food expert alongside morose-looking bloodhounds, one named Henry, chosen for the way they matched his hangdog countenance. The advertisements followed him through his early appearances in a 14-year parliamentary career, when he was met as he rose to speak with cries of “Woof! Woof!”
That quickly gave way to respect for his work in support of Liberal causes, including a draft freedom of information bill he introduced years before a Labor government passed a similar statute in 2000.