Christopher John Tarrant was born on Thursday 10th October 1946; was educated as a boarder in Choir House at the King’s School, Worcester where he represented the school at hockey and cricket. He briefly became a researcher for the Central Office of Information before becoming a newsreader on ATV Today. It was in 1974 that things progressed. For 8 years between 1974 & 82 he hosted the ITV children’s television show Tiswas. Two years later – in 1984 – he joined Capital Radio and was host for 20 years. He is probably best remembered, though, for his 16 years on the ITV game show ‘Who wants to be a Millionaire?’
In March 2014 he suffered a stroke at 39,000ft on a work flight from Thailand to London. Doctors at Charing Cross Hospital, London, told him he’d had a stroke, and did emergency surgery to remove a blood clot from his right leg. Chris recalls: “They were brilliant. I’m always aware that if I hadn’t gone I could be in a wheelchair. What happened makes me want to enjoy my life. I take medication and pills. I keep pretty active. I’ve got a big rambling estate in Berkshire so I walk around hills as I can’t stand the gym. I think I’m mentally fit, too.”
Monday 4th October 1976 saw a new high-speed train go into service for the first time. Powered by two diesel engines the trains were capable to a top speed of 140mph which, at that time, made it the fasted diesel powered train in the world. It is recorded that, on this first journey it arrived 3 minutes early at Bristol!
So what was involved in creating this new wonder? Well British Railways was creating and introducing the Inter-City 125 trains so as to provide a regular high speed service between Cardiff, Bristol and London. This was the first traveler but British Rail planed to extend the HST service to other major cities over the following two/three years. Powered by two diesel motors the Inter-City 125 had already recorded a top speed of over 140mph in trial runs, making it the fastest diesel-powered train in the world.
It was recognised that most other countries had developed electrically powered high-speed trains but the cost of electrification on Britain’s network was considered, at the time, to be prohibitive. The diesel-powered 125 was a new product from existing technology and was a reasonable stopgap. The absence of an official ceremony by British Rail to mark this initial occasion meant that few passengers on the trip were aware they were making history on the morning when the 08.05 train left Paddington on time and headed west.
However, it dose appear that most of the travellers did appreciate some improvement in comfort – the carriages featured aircraft-like seating, with sliding electric doors at each end. Not only was this comfort welcome – hot food could be promptly served from an on-board kitchen with the aid of a state-of-the-art microwave oven!