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Tributes to Brain of Britain's Robert Robinson

Monday 15 August 2011, 14:00

Paul Murphy Paul Murphy Senior Producer, A&Mi

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Many tributes were paid over the weekend to the much-loved broadcaster Robert Robinson who died at the age of 83. Over five decades he presented a wealth of radio and TV programmes for the BBC including Brain of Britain, Ask the Family, Stop the Week, Call My Bluff and the Today programme.

John Timpson and Robert Robinson

John Timpson and Robert Robinson, presenters of Radio 4's Today, 1971

On the BBC News website Caroline Raphael, commissioning editor for BBC Radio 4 comedy, called her former colleague a "radio legend":

"[Robinson had] one of the most recognisable and pleasurable voices on radio. Many of the Radio 4 listeners will have grown up listening to Robert and enjoyed his quiet, wry intelligence. We'll miss him."

Of Robinson's time at the Today programme, starting in 1971, the Telegraph wrote:

"In hiring him, the BBC took a gamble. Robinson had never been heard regularly on radio before. Neither, as it turned out, had he ever actually heard the programme himself, being an habitual slugabed who always slept through it... But Robinson quickly hit his stride, striking up a winning on-air camaraderie with the avuncular Timpson. In Robinson's hands, the 30-second cue (introduction) to an item became an art form. 'Bob learned to use words to fashion lexicological objets d'art,' Timpson observed."

Paul Murphy is the Editor of the Radio 4 blog

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    Comment number 1.

    One evening I saw Robert Robinson unloading his luggage from a car in the half-deserted streets outside his house in Chelsea. I was too shy to speak to him but it did occur to me to ask whether a book token was sufficient as a prize, in these days of 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?'.
    He seemed an amiable sort of chap, as far as one could tell from listening to him on the wireless.

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    Comment number 2.

    I always enjoyed Robert Robinson's excellent use of English and his dry wit. Stop the Week was a favourite programme and I still have a couple of hundred editions converted to mp3. I will be listening to a few in tribute!

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    Comment number 3.

    What a remarkable man. I wrote to him on Stop the Week with a true story that happened in my childhood concerning an unrepeatable coincidence. He wrote back to say how he found the story to have Dostoevsky overtones- which really pleased me. Then when he was retiring from STW he sent me another letter saying how he had found my letter while clearing out and he still enjoyed the story. I remember many of his anecdotes but my favourite was one he quoted of Sydney Smith - "Sir, you have risen because of your gravity. I have fallen because of my levity". You can't beat it, as RR might have said.

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    Comment number 4.

    I don't suppose we could hear a few editions of Stop the Week on 4extra as a tribute?


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