January 21, 2020 10:46:54 AM
Former Today presenter Peter Hobday has been remembered for his humour, generosity and “warm and embracing personality” after his death at the age of 82.
Hobday, whose death was announced on the BBC Radio 4 programme, was a popular host on the show for nearly 14 years until his controversial dismissal in 1996, and he also helped launch current affairs programme Newsnight.
Former Today presenter John Humphrys, who worked alongside Hobday for nearly a decade, told the PA news agency that he was a “funny, generous and had that great gift of making the listener feel at home in his company”.
Humphrys added: “He was also very clever and knew a great deal about many things but he was never pompous and wore his learning lightly.
“We missed him when he left. He was a lovely man.”
Hobday’s former Today colleague James Naughtie remembered his “jolliness” and described him as “a very learned man, terribly well-read and a man of vast accomplishments”.
Naughtie told Today: “If you don’t have a personality there’s no point, and Peter had a wonderful, warm and embracing personality, and 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.”
He said the broadcaster was “a wonderful character to be sitting beside”, and that “he was never without a joke”.
“There were funny moments, great moments, I deeply respected him as a journalist,” he added.
“He was a passionate man… I was very sad to read of his death. I’ll always remember the fun times, and his vivacity and verve.”
Newsreader Julie Etchingham also paid tribute to Hobday, writing on Twitter that he was a “lovely man” and adding that he was “incredibly kind and patient with me as a trainee in the Midlands”.
Fran Unsworth, director, BBC News and current affairs, said: “We’re sorry to hear of Peter’s death. He contributed much to the BBC – from his early days on the World Service to his hosting of Newsnight and the Today programme.
“Peter was a warm and engaging presenter who was much liked by audiences. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.”
Born in 1937 in Wolverhampton, Hobday went on to study modern languages at Leicester University and completed his National Service in Paris before joining the Wolverhampton Express and Star as a showbusiness editor.
Hobday joined the BBC in 1970, working for the World Service, before moving to the daily financial programme Financial World Tonight on Radio 4 four years later, and then the Money Programme on BBC Two.
He helped to launch current affairs programme Newsnight on BBC Two in 1980, acting as host and the show’s economic specialist for three years.
But it was his presence on Radio 4’s Today programme that made him a hit with audiences, thanks to his relaxed, courteous style.
Hobday’s friendly manner was at odds with his co-presenters, Naughtie and Humphrys, but his techniques were often considered to be effective with tricky interviewees.
In 1996, Hobday was dropped from Today after 14 years by the programme’s then-editor Roger Mosey, a move that was widely criticised by devoted listeners.
Following an outcry over his dismissal, the BBC was forced to deny claims that Hobday, who was approaching 60 at the time, was removed because of his age.
The broadcaster carried on presenting on various radio programmes, including World At One on Radio 4.