Heinz Wolff, Great Egg Race presenter and scientist, dies

Image : BBC


Renowned scientist and TV presenter Heinz Wolff has died, aged 89.

The German-born inventor and professor, famed for hosting BBC Two’s long-running science show The Great Egg Race, died of heart failure on 15 December, his family said.

A former advisor to the European Space Agency, he later moved to London’s Brunel University to work on projects linked to the ageing population.

Brunel colleagues described him as an “inventive and inspirational leader”.

Close friend Professor Ian Sutherland praised Wolffe – who became an emeritus professor at Brunel – for his creativity.

“There was nothing he loved more than having a team of people around him devising completely new ways of doing things,” he said.

Trademark bow tie

A Jewish refugee, Wolff moved to the UK from Berlin aged 11 on the day World War Two broke out in September 1939.

After attending school in Oxford, he worked in haematology at the city’s Radcliffe Infirmary, where he invented a machine for counting patients’ blood cells.

He later went on to graduate from University College London with a first-class honours degree in physiology and physics.

Wolff moved into television in 1966, first appearing on the BBC’s Panorama programme with Richard Dimbleby, where he produced a pill that could measure, pressure, temperature and acidity.

However, he was best known for hosting BBC Two’s The Great Egg Race from 1977 until 1986 – instantly recognisable for his trademark bow tie and eccentric hairstyle.

The show challenged contestants to invent useful objects out of limited resources.

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