Obituary: Bob Bairstow, television executive

Bob Bairstow, who has died at 77, was a key figure during the most successful years of Yorkshire Television and the ITV Network from the 1970s to the 1990s.

Bob Bairstow
Bob Bairstow

Bob Bairstow, who has died at 77, was a key figure during the most successful years of Yorkshire Television and the ITV Network from the 1970s to the 1990s.

As Head of Presentation, he was responsible for the acquisition and scheduling of programmes on ITV, and had a central role in negotiating the exchange of programmes between YTV and the other “big five” companies – Thames, London Weekend, ATV/Central and Granada.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

As a school leaver of 17, he started a traineeship as a journalist, but transferred to the Merchant Navy as an assistant purser on cruise liners, where he developed his natural skills as an entertaining host.

Back on land, he applied for, and won, an appointment as an announcer on Southern Television, but found his natural home in the presentation department, producing trailers for upcoming programmes.

He moved to Yorkshire Television in 1974, and progressed to Head of Presentation and finally Director of Broadcasting until he left in 1997.

He then became a consultant and training expert in several Eastern European countries, where his relaxed style and deep knowledge of the television industry made him many lasting friendships.

A raconteur par excellence, his party piece was recounting a heart attack suffered on an overnight train journey, somewhere between Minsk in Belarus and Kiev in Ukraine, where his emergency treatment was administered by a gynaecologist and a country vet.

He is survived by his wife, Lynn, son Tom, a television executive based in London, and his daughter, Lucy, a barrister based in chambers in Leeds.