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The BBC's Nicholas Witchell
"He was often imitated but never truly equalled"
 real 56k

Presenter of Question Time, David Dimbleby
"He was interested in nailing the politicians and trying to get answers"
 real 56k

Former BBC managing director, Sir Paul Fox
"There will never be another one like him"
 real 28k

Monday, 7 August, 2000, 17:39 GMT 18:39 UK
Sir Robin Day dies
Sir Robin Day
Sir Robin was a ground breaking TV journalist
Veteran broadcaster Sir Robin Day has died at the age of 76.

Sir Robin was best known for presenting BBC1's Question Time and Panorama programmes.

I shudder to watch interviewers who think it clever to be snide, supercilious, or downright offensive

Sir Robin Day
Former prime minister Baroness Thatcher said: "Sir Robin Day single-handedly pioneered modern political interviewing, and he excelled at it.

"Our paths often crossed and I always enjoyed the joust. He was tough and relentless."

Michael Stroud, chief executive of the Wellington Hospital in London, said that Sir Robin died on Sunday at around 2100 BST.

Distinguished career

"Sir Robin died here last night. He had been in for a few days for an investigation into a cardiac condition. He died very peacefully at 9pm," he said.

Sir Robin Day
Politicians treated Sir Robin with caution
Mr Stroud said Sir Robin, who underwent a multiple heart by-pass operation in the 1980s, had been in and out of the hospital several times over the last year for treatment for his heart condition.

Sir Ronald Waterhouse, a personal friend, said Sir Robin went into hospital a fortnight ago after having a blackout.

"He was discharged last Sunday but didn't feel well and he went back in on Friday," he said.

During the 1950s, Sir Robin had been one of the first broadcasters on ITN news, where he set the pace for television journalism before moving to the BBC.

Oxford educated, he was called to the Bar in 1952, but left to pursue in a career in journalism which started at British Information Services in Washington.

One of his first big breaks came as he interviewed Egyptian leader Colonel Nasser at the time of the Suez crisis.

Although famous for taking politicians to task with forensic skill, Sir Robin once attempted to enter Parliament for the Liberal Party, standing for Hereford in 1959.

A ground breaker

The founder of News at Ten, Sir Geoffrey Cox, described Sir Robin as "the first of the probing interviewers".

At his best there was simply nobody better

John Humphrys
"Although great interviewers have come along since, none have matched Sir Robin and his capacity to get to the heart of the issue.

"He was also a great newscaster before he was famous as an interviewer because he could also write and set the news out in very clear terms."

The BBC's John Humphrys, one of the journalists who has followed the trail first blazed by Sir Robin, said: "It was more a master-pupil relationship with Robin than anything else.

"Most of us who were by his standards newcomers to the business were in awe of him. At his best there was simply nobody better. He was well informed, he was incisive."

The interviewer's craft

And Sir Paul Fox, a former BBC managing director, praised him in similar fashion saying: "He was the leading political interviewer on television. There will never be another one like him."

Describing his craft in his own words Sir Robin said simply: "The interviewer should be firm and courteous. Questioning should be tenacious and persistent, but civil.

"I shudder to watch interviewers who think it clever to be snide, supercilious, or downright offensive."

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02 Apr 00 | UK Politics
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