Birthday: October 24, 1923
Died At Age: 76
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Also Known As: Sir Robin Day, The Grand Inquisitor
Born in: London
Famous as: Broadcaster, Journalist
political ideology: Liberal
Spouse/Ex-: Katherine Ainslie
Died on: August 6, 2000
place of death: London
City: London, England
education: St Edmund Hall, Oxford, Brentwood School, Essex
Who was Robin Day?
Sir Robin Day was a notable British presenter and political broadcaster. He was one of the finest presenters and interviewers of his time and was famous throughout Britain for his straightforward, coarse and blunt way to interview major political figures, so as they feel responsible and answerable towards the general public. He also made a mark in the television industry and made television a viable source of current political affairs. His curt interviewing style, his heavy-rimmed glasses, and trademark spotted tie or bow tie, made him into an icon on the television. He started off as a radio presenter on different channels of BBC Radio and later on moved to television. He was knighted in the early eighties for his services in the field of public broadcasting. Day was not only a presenter; he was also a writer and wrote two autobiographies on his life as a broadcaster—‘Day by Day’ and ‘Grand Inquisitor’. Because of the respect that Day received from the public for his role in making the politicians come on the microphone and be answerable, he himself contested in 1959 General Elections but unfortunately could not win.
Childhood & Early Life
Robin Day was born on 24 October 1923, in Hampstead Garden Suburb, London in a middle-class family. His father was a telephone engineer, who later became a telephone manager.
From 1934-38, Day attended the Brentwood School from which he was shifted to Crypt School, Gloucester, for a short period of time and ultimately enrolled at Bembridge School, Isle of Wight.
He served in the British army from 1943-47 as a captain and was stationed in East Africa, during the Second World War. Once the war was over, he enrolled himself at the St Edmund Hall, Oxford.
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Day started working with Independent Television News (ITN) from early ‘50s and by the mid-‘50s he became very famous as he was the first British journalist who interviewed Egypt’s President Nasser after the Suez Crisis.
In 1958, Day became famous for his coarse inquisition when he interviewed Prime Minister Harold Macmillan. It was considered to be a bold interview and press viewed it as “the most vigorous cross-examination a Prime Minister has been subjected to in public".
In early ‘70s, Day became presenter on BBC Radio show, ‘It’s Your Line’, in which general public asked questions from the Prime Minister.
From 1977-until the late ‘80s, Day was involved in presenting ‘Panorama’, a BBC Television current affairs documentary programme and chaired ‘Question Time’. In addition to this, he was also the radio presenter of ‘The World at one’.
After getting knighted for his services to the broadcasting, Day gained fame again when he offended the Conservative Secretary of State for Defence John Nott, who walked out on him because of his abrasive questioning, during the interview.
He was a regular on BBC Election night programmes for his unique approach to politics and straightforward way of approaching the politicians. After he left ‘Question Time’, he started presenting the weekly political discussion programme ‘Now Sir Robin’.
‘Now Sir Robin’ was telecast on new satellite service BSB and even after BSB merged with Sky Television, Day kept on presenting the programme. During 1992 Elections, he presented a political show on ITN's Election Night coverage, which was broadcast on ITV.
Throughout the mid-‘90s, Day could be seen contributing to the lunchtime Channel Four political programme, ‘Around the House’ and ‘Central Lobby’ for Central TV.
Other than being a notable broadcaster in the British Media, Day was also a writer—he wrote, ‘Day by Day (1975)’ and ‘Grand Inquisitor (1989)’. He also stood as a Labor Party Candidate in 1959 General Elections but lost.
Day became famous particularly as a presenter for politically charged radio shows, in which he instilled new life and direction with his harsh, probing questioning techniques. These shows were: ‘Question Time’, ‘The World at One’, ‘It’s Your Line’, etc.
Awards & Achievements
For his presenting skills, straightforward approach to political issues and the ability to make a politician answerable to public questioning and curiosity by probing them meticulously, Day was knighted in 1981.
Personal Life & Legacy
Day married Katherine Ainslie, an Australian law don at Oxford, in 1965. The couple had two sons together but they got divorced in 1986.
He died on 6th August 2000 and his cremation ceremony took place in Mortlake Crematorium, London, while his ashes are interred near the south door of Whitchurch Canonicorum parish church in Dorset.
In the ‘80s, Day had to go through a coronary bypass and he suffered from apparent breathing difficulties all through his life after that.
He also dealt with weight problems all through his adult life. He used to weigh 108kgs when he was an undergraduate but eventually kept losing more and more weight.
His grave reads, “In loving memory of Sir Robin Day the Grand Inquisitor”.
Day once appeared as himself in ‘Morecambe & Wise’ show.