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Monday, 7 August, 2000, 17:38 GMT 18:38 UK
Tributes to Sir Robin Day
Sir Robin Day
Sir Robin Day: "The inquistitor of the nation"
Broadcaster Sir Robin Day, best known for his many years on BBC1's Question Time and Panorama, has died at the age of 76.

Tributes have poured in following news of the sudden death of the retired broadcaster, Sir Robin Day.

Sir Paul Fox, a former managing director of the BBC, said Sir Robin's death was a great loss to broadcasting.

Our paths often crossed and I always enjoyed the joust

Baroness Thatcher
"We've lost one of the best, if not the leading political interviewer on television."

Sir Robin was a groundbreaking broadcaster who pioneered the art of asking the hard questions, he said.

Anthony Howard, writer and broadcaster, described Sir Robin as "the grand inquisitor of the nation".

Journalists had previously handled ministers with kid gloves, addressing the interviewee as "Sir" and respectfully asking if they would care to pass comment on the issue of the day.

"It was so supine, particularly on the BBC. He got rid of deference."

Mr Howard said it was surprising that Sir Robin, a trained barrister, did not stick with the cut-and-thrust world of the courtroom.

The former Labour leader Michael Foot said Sir Robin led the charge to televise parliament, breaking the taboo of putting politicians under the spotlight.

"He did more than anybody else to break down all those prejudices."

Nick Jones, the BBC's Westminster correspondent, said Sir Robin made sure he always knew his stuff, and had a few "impish tricks" up his sleeve to unseat politicians should the need arise.

Sir John Nott, the defence minister during the Falklands conflict, famously walked out of an interview after Sir Robin referred to him as a "here today, gone tomorrow" politician.

Pioneering interviewer

Sir Geoffrey Cox, founder of News at Ten and ITN editor from 1956 to 1968, said Sir Robin excelled at his craft.

He gave personality and passion to the task of interviewing

Neil Kinnock
Sir Geoffrey said: "He developed in the early days of ITN a technique of putting searching questions to people and remained the best of the probing interviewers.

"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."

European Commissioner and former Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock said: "He was unsurpassed and with his mixture of knowledge and idiosyncrasy, he gave personality and passion to the task of interviewing."

Baroness Thatcher, who crossed swords with the interviewer during her premiereship, said Sir Robin made an excellent sparring partner.

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

"But he was also fair, witty and gracious. His death leaves British political life blander and poorer."

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