Peter Hobday, who co-presented BBC Radio 4’s Today programme in the 1980s and 90s, has died at the age of 82.
Hobday was a regular on the flagship radio show for 14 years until his controversial dismissal in 1996.
An expert on economics and business, Hobday also fronted the Money Programme on BBC Two and helped launch Newsnight in 1980.
Former Today host James Naughtie, who worked with Hobday for two years, remembered his “jolliness”.
Hobday was “a very learned man, terribly well-read and a man of vast accomplishments”, Naughtie said on Tuesday.
“If you don’t have a personality there’s no point, and Peter had a wonderful, warm and embracing personality. It was said that by the mid-1990s his style was a bit 1980s. That’s what he felt had been the reason for his departure. I don’t know whether that was true or not, but he was much missed.”
Naughtie said the broadcaster was “a wonderful character to be sitting beside” and that “he was never without a joke”.
Fran Unsworth, director of BBC News also paid tribute. “Peter was a warm and engaging presenter who was much liked by audiences,” she said. “Our thoughts are with his family and friends.”
Hobday’s laid-back, domestic style was a hit with many listeners and there was an outcry when he had to leave.
Hugo Gurdon noted in The Daily Telegraph at the time: “Out in listener land, they like his jokes, they like him, they even like his frequent bulletins on the health of his camellias in the garden of his Kensington home.”
Newsreader Julie Etchingham remembered his kindness in her Twitter tribute.
Hobday entered journalism as the showbusiness editor for the Wolverhampton Express and Star. In 1970, he joined the BBC World Service, which led to him becoming a presenter on Radio 4’s Financial World Tonight and later the Money Programme on television.
He helped to launch Newsnight on BBC Two as co-host and the show’s economic specialist for three years, and was appointed to Today in 1983.
In 1996, he was dropped from Today by the programme’s then-editor Roger Mosey, a move that was met with dismay by his fans.
The Times mounted a “save Peter Hobday” campaign. Following the outcry, the BBC denied claims that Hobday, who was approaching 60, was removed because of his age.
While saddened by his departure, Hobday appeared to take it on the chin. He said: “A fat, middle-aged hack like me didn’t really square with the mean, lean interview machine. [I] wasn’t invasive and I didn’t feel the need to scream and shout.”
He later carried on presenting various radio programmes, including The World At One and Opera and About on Radio 4.