Page last updated at 20:49 GMT, Wednesday, 16 September 2009 21:49 UK

BBC reporter Barron dies aged 69

Brian Barron on board the USS Enterprise in 2001
Brian Barron reported on the Afghanistan conflict in 2001

BBC reporter Brian Barron has died from cancer at the age of 69.

He covered wars across five decades, including Aden, Vietnam and both Iraq conflicts, and served as correspondent in some of the world's major cities.

World news editor Jon Williams said: "He was simply the most distinguished BBC correspondent of our age".

Barron, who was honoured as Royal Television Society's reporter of the year in 1980, died at his home in Cornwall surrounded by his family.

Former war reporter Martin Bell said: "I think he was lucky and he was clever, and he was - within the limits - absolutely ruthless. He was completely driven.

"I first met him in Aden in 1968, we worked together in the early 1980s in Washington, and I had an enormous respect for him. He was the sort of old-fashioned reporter one would rather work with than against."

Barron started his journalism career as a teenager on the Western Daily Press newspaper in Bristol, before joining the BBC in 1965 at the department that later became the World Service.

Brian was comfortable and composed in the most dangerous places
Jon Williams
BBC world news editor

He went on to become Aden correspondent, where he reported on the end of 130 years of British rule.

As South East Asia correspondent he covered the Vietnam war and - ignoring the BBC's order to leave - witnessed the fall of Saigon to North Vietnamese forces in 1975.

In Africa, he reported on the demise of Idi Amin and in 1980, tracked down the dictator to a secret hideout in Saudi Arabia.

Barron covered the Falklands War from Chile, as well as working as the BBC's Ireland correspondent at the height of the Troubles.

He had spells as a foreign correspondent in cities including Washington, New York, Cairo, Hong Kong, and Rome.

'An inspiration'

After his official retirement, Barron and Eric Thirer, his friend and long-time cameraman, continued to work together in New York.

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Nicholas Witchell looks back at Brian Barron's distinguished TV career

And at the start of the Iraq conflict in 2003, Barron reported from the deck of the USS Mobile as the first missile was fired against Saddam Hussein.

Barron was made an MBE for services to broadcasting in the 2007 New Year Honours.

Talking of their time working together, Eric Thirer said: "I think the approach then was just to go and do it.

"I think these days there's too much caution and of course the health and safety issues which have come to pass make the world more difficult for people.

"But then we would just go. We would break down our camera, get on a plane to Saudi Arabia and manage to talk ourselves into the country.

"We got on with it and never thought much about it. "

Helen Boaden, director of BBC News, said: "He was an inspiration to many generations of journalists for his professionalism, extraordinary experience and lightness of touch. We shall miss him very much."

Mr Williams described Barron as the "quintessential foreign correspondent - suave, impossibly handsome and brave".

He added: "Long before satellite technology made it routine, he took BBC audiences to faraway places, and explained the biggest stories of our times - first on radio, then television.

Brian Barron in 1967
Brian Barron joined the BBC in 1965 after a spell on newspapers

"He was comfortable and composed in the most dangerous places."

Two years ago, in what would be his final report for the BBC, Barron returned to Aden, 40 years after the end of empire.

Mr Williams said: "It was vintage Brian - funny, poignant, but with a message. He was an inspiration to more than one generation of reporters, producers and editors."

Barron leaves his wife Angela and daughter Fleur.


BBC website readers have been sending in their comments and memories of Brian Barron. Below is a selection of them.

I remember, as a child, sitting watching Brian's coverage of the first Gulf War and thinking what a strange kind of job he had - to be in a war zone telling stories so calmly amongst all the fighting. He seemed unflinching and driven to report the truth.
Adam, Bristol, UK

It was both my privilege and my misfortune to have him as my "rival" in Asia in the early nineties. And he had such tenacity and energy and a wonderful way with words. He was also ferociously competitive. He didn't like being beaten on a story and he very seldom was.
Mark Austin

The most amusing report I remember him doing was one outside his usual domain of war reporting: talking about hippies! What was amusing was his clipped pronunciation of the word, which came out like HIP IS! Anything less hippy-like than Brian Barron I find difficult to imagine... and I wonder what he said to his head honcho in London before dutifully despatching himself on this unfamiliar assignment?
Rhys Jaggar, London, UK



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