He began his career in radio, and his long-standing partnership with Denis Norden led to appearances on panel games such as My Music and My Word. He was well-known to television audiences as a team captain on the long-running BBC2 series, Call My Bluff, and did voice-overs for advertisements, notably Cadbury's Fruit & Nut chocolate. He was a writer and presenter on many shows including the 1960s satire programmes, That Was The Week That Was and The Frost Report.
His pets, which prompted many an anecdote on My Word!, included Afghan Hounds and Burmese cats. The hounds were also the inspiration for a series of picture books about an accident-prone Afghan puppy called "What-a-Mess".
Other shows he was associated with include Take It From Here, Whacko and Brothers in Law.