For example, as the new editor of the Manchester Evening News, he commissioned me to write my first article from the Vietnam war, despite the fact that I was merely an 18-year-old schoolboy who had marched out of class, determined to discover what life was all about. I can't think of many others who would have taken such a risk.
Even more astonishing, when I turned up in the Today studio at Radio 4, 15 years later, transmogrified into a Quaker 'Thought for the Day-er', he remembered who I was, and started the running joke about my loud shirts.
Of course, he could be tetchy. He was incandescent after the famous spat on air with Nigel Lawson, who had described him as a life- long Labour supporter. In fact, Brian had voted Conservative (out of admiration for his maverick local MP, Nicholas Winterton), but he was blowed if he was going to be declared anything but scrupulously objective. The temper, like his cheery-cheeky-chappy act, was all part of a wonderfully rounded, irreplaceable person.
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