Henry Blofeld, Test Match Special's Dear Old Thing, announces retirement

Henry Blofeld with a portrait of himself Getty Images

Henry Blofeld, the veteran BBC commentator, has announced that he will retire from his role with Test Match Special this summer, after 45 years on the airwaves.

Blofeld, 77, aka "Blowers", became a household name at the height of TMS's reach in the 1980s and 1990s, on account of his distinctive voice, complete with the catchphrase, "my dear old thing", and his regular digressions into the habits of passing pigeons and London buses.

He had been a fine cricketer in his own right as a schoolboy at Eton College in the 1950s, but his prospects of a first-class career came to an end at the age of 17, when he was knocked off his bicycle by a bus and spent 28 days in a coma.

Instead he went into print journalism in the 1960s, after an abortive stint in banking, and went on to make his debut on TMS in 1972. He will commentate on three more Test matches this summer, before hanging up his microphone in September, during the third Test between England and West Indies at Lord's.

"All good things come to an end," he wrote on his website. "After nearly fifty years in the Test Match Special commentary box, I have decided the time has come for the last of the old farts to hang up his microphone."

By his own admission, Blofeld's deteriorating eyesight has made his recent stints more error-prone than he would wish, and there is a sense in his farewell statement that he wished to leave the broadcasting scene on his own terms.

"In all honesty, at the age of almost 78, although I am still rather keener than mustard, I find it harder work than I once did. The one thing I don't want to do more than anything, is for my incompetence to let TMS down.

"I leave, supremely confident that TMS is in the safest of hands, led by the ageless Aggers [Jonathan Agnew]. In the end, I think he will come to be seen as the best of the lot.

"Listeners will now be relieved to know that their chances of being told the right name of the fielders at third man and fine leg have greatly increased.

"I hope some will be sad that they will now hear less about the lifestyles of pigeons, seagulls, and helicopters although I fear the general feeling will be one of huge relief.

"Now, I shall be able to come to the cricket without worrying about who is lurking down at third man. I shall also be able to have a drink without feeling I am being politically incorrect. And hallelujah to that!"