Obituary: Len Tingle, political journalist

Len Tingle.
Len Tingle.
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Len Tingle, who has died at 63, was the BBC’s political editor in Yorkshire and a familiar face both on the teatime news and the Sunday politics programme.

A skilled and respected broadcaster, whose passing a year after a cancer diagnosis brought tributes from both sides of the political divide, he had been an on-screen presence since the beginning of the 1980s, when he took a job at Lord Grade’s ATV in Birmingham. He stayed at the TV Centre there when the franchise was relaunched as Central TV 1982.

Len Tingle. Picture: BBC.

Len Tingle. Picture: BBC.

But he was a Yorkshireman first and last, born in the mining community of Cudworth near Barnsley, and based at the BBC’s Leeds headquarters for nearly 25 years.

He had gone there initially as a business reporter, but he had already cut his political teeth at Central, where he was a mainstay for almost the whole of the 1980s.

Moving to the corporation in London in 1989, he became an on-screen reporter for the recently established business unit, and it was in a similar capacity that he returned to Yorkshire in 1995.

But he had already made a point of reporting from the region whenever he could. One early piece took him back to his South Yorkshire roots, as he delivered an underground piece to camera from the Prince of Wales colliery, one of the last to survive in the area, and not for long.

In 2001, he became the full-time political editor in Yorkshire, and was passionate about not only reporting politics but explaining the subject.

The normal constraints of working hours and crewing arrangements were inconveniences to be brushed aside when the need arose, and the Skipton MP Juilian Sturdy, noted in the Commons in 2011 that having arranged to follow him on the hustings for a day, Mr Tingle had persuaded his wife to come with, “for a day out in the Dales and an evening at a B&B” but had then press ganged her into carrying all his bags and taking over as his cameraman for the evening,

Mr Tingle was also unconventional, by TV standards, in admitting to occasional errors. His colleague James Vincent recalled: “Once he told me about a mistake he’d made filming when he was out on his own. He’d come back to the office with a completely unusable set of pictures. In the ego-driven world of TV, the ability to admit your mistakes, knowing that telling someone else will help them cope with the pressure of the job, is complete, gentlemanly selflessness.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said that in Mr Tingle, Yorkshire had “lost a loud and proud voice”, and Nigel Adams, Conservative MP for Selby and Ainsty, called him a “true gent” and an “impartial, fair, respectful and professional political reporter”.

A resident of Huddersfield, Mr Tingle is survived by his wife and two children.