Burnet 'set the bar high and we merely looked up'

Sir Alastair Burnet in 1976. The former broadcaster has died aged 84 Photo: Press Association

When I became a foreign correspondent for ITN in 1990, Alastair Burnet came up to me in the Wells St newsroom and wished me luck .

"You realise, though, that you have just given up the best job in the business".

He was only half joking. I had been sports correspondent, travelling the world to Olympics and World Cups, and Sir Alastair was a sport buff, a walkingencyclopaedia of sporting knowledge and he loved it.

He had once chided me for leaving out a Scottish football result from our Saturday evening coverage . "Stenhousemuir's result is every bit as important as Manchester United's, particularly if you live in Stenhousemuir".

Sir Alastair was the consummate news broadcaster. His authority, which appeared so natural and effortless, was actually earnedand had its foundation in the years doing the hard yards in politics and current affairs .

He was journalist first and presenter second and became an awe-inspiring combination of the two .

Charismatic, charming and brilliant . He was the best. He set the bar high and we merely looked up .