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Last Updated: Saturday, 19 November 2005, 16:33 GMT
Broadcaster Timpson dies aged 77
John Timpson

Writer and broadcaster John Timpson has died at a hospital in Norfolk at the age of 77.

Timpson was best known for his long career as a presenter on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, and a string of books on British heritage.

Famed for his distinctive voice, he joined the Today programme in 1970, stepping down 16 years later, in 1986.

Timpson, who died at Queen Elizabeth's Hospital in Kings Lynn, Norfolk, on Saturday, leaves a wife and one son.

A second son, Nick, died suddenly at the age of 42 just five weeks ago.

"John was one of the greats from radio broadcasting," said Jenny Abramsky, director of BBC radio, on Saturday.

'Sense of humour'

"His partnership with Brian Redhead was one of the great broadcasting duets.

"His sense of humour and his humanity shone through in all his broadcasts, and during his time on Today the programme's journalism went from strength to strength."

Presenter John Humphrys said: "The partnership between John Timpson and Brian Redhead was the cornerstone for what the Today programme has become. They were a brilliant double act."

"John's droll humour made him a greatly loved figure. I took over from him 19 years ago and it was a very hard act to follow."

Born in Middlesex, John Timpson began his career as a junior reporter on the Wembley News, before moving to the Eastern Daily Press in Norwich in 1951.

John Timpson at a 1974 farewell party for Today presenter Robert Robinson (l)
Timpson was part of the Today team for 16 years

In 1959 he joined the BBC as a reporter. In the early days of BBC Two, Timpson presented the first half-hour television news programme, before becoming co-presenter on the Today programme with Jack De Manio.

Following De Manio's departure, Timpson presented alongside Robert Robinson and later Brian Redhead with whom he developed a popular banter.

He briefly left the Today show to present the Tonight programme, and in 1984 became chairman of Any Questions - a role he continued until 1987.

Outstanding service

In 1986 he won the Sony Gold Award for outstanding services to radio.

"Avuncular, often teasingly lugubrious, dependable and funny," said former Today presenter Sue MacGregor, paying tribute to Timpson.

"He was the master of the one-liner quip and brought a totally professional presence to the tricky business of fronting Today."

No one will ever forget that voice
James Naughtie

Current Today presenter James Naughtie added: "All of us who work on the programme feel its history very keenly and John was a bright star in that galaxy. No one will ever forget that voice."

On his retirement, Timpson returned to his beloved Norfolk which was the subject of many of his books, notably Timpson's Travels in East Anglia and Timpson's Norfolk Notebook.

Editor of the Today programme Kevin Marsh said of Timpson: "I grew up listening to him and he was one of the reasons I got into radio broadcasting.

"I admired him hugely and he represented everything the BBC stands for."


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