I met Allan when we were 5 years old. We went to the same schools, and then we went to university together, where we shared rooms and then flats. We were both at Northsound Radio in Aberdeen together, then later at Radio 1, then at 5 live. Our careers went in tandem. He was my oldest friend, and he was my closest friend. He was my best man, and I'm godfather to his son, and I can't believe he's not with us any more.
Allan was a fantastic journalist: he had a very quick and agile mind, and he asked questions which people could not hide from. He was as much at home interviewing Nelson Mandela as....well, anyone, really. He did some great stuff from Northern Ireland at the time of the Good Friday agreement, and from Sydney at the dawning of the new millennium. When Allan was working on Newsbeat on Radio 1, he interviewed the then-Prime Minister, John Major. Spitting Image was on at the time, and John Major was portrayed as an utterly grey man who was obsessed with eating peas. There was a lull in the interview, and the only thing Allan could think to say was, "do you like eating peas?" John Major clearly didn't know what Allan was talking about and said, "I like a variety of vegetables...but peas I am relatively neutral about." Which was classic Allan, as well as classic John Major.
He was perfect for 5 live. He understood where we were coming from. He had a certain contrariness: he was brilliant at taking the other position for the sake of it, of making you question your own prejudices.
He was great company: he was a dynamic personality with a risqué sense of humour, and he could make you laugh until you were crying. He was rather more formal on the radio than in person, and I think that was a great strength. This rod of steel went into his backbone when he went on the air. He had a rather endearing old-fashioned view of Being On The BBC, which came from his sense of awe at what we do. I remember walking up Oxford Street in London with him once, and he pointed at Broadcasting House and said "we work there. We work there, for the BBC". And he never forgot that. There was never one moment when he didn't think, "I'm a journalist for the BBC, and I'm doing the most amazing job in the world, and it's a fantastic privilege."
His MS had become more and more debilitating, but his humour always shone through. I was in hospital with him fairly recently, when his health took a bad turn. In the chaos of an emergency situation, this plate of what can only be described as mush was delivered to him. It must have been sitting around for hours. The doctor was in the middle of speaking to him, and Allan looked up and said to the nurses, "excuse me -- I ordered the lobster".
The Allan I will remember is a wonderfully eccentric, fiercely intelligent, amazingly loyal friend. He was at his happiest when with his 12-year-old son, Jamie. I will cherish so many memories of Allan: the years when we were kids, the years we were teenagers, when we were running amok, when we were being bad, when we were being appalling, when we were being good. But I will cherish the memory of the happy father with his son more than anything.
For me, it's one of the saddest days of my life. He was my greatest friend and he was a great broadcaster and professional, and I'll really miss him so much.
Nicky Campbell presents 5 live breakfast every weekday morning