Paul Lambert: Tributes paid to Ex-BBC producer known as 'Gobby'

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Paul Lambert

A former BBC journalist described as a central character at Westminster and master of interviewing politicians on the street has died aged 61.

Paul Lambert, affectionately known as "Gobby", was often heard on TV shouting questions at ministers.

He left the BBC in 2014 to become communications director of UKIP.

His daughter Danni said on Facebook the family were "devastated". BBC Head of Westminster Katy Searle called him an "institution at Westminster".

"His fearless approach to political doorsteps made politicians cower and journalist colleagues cheer," she added.

"We are all deeply saddened by the news and send our very best wishes to his family."

BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg described Mr Lambert as a "fixture of politics".

Writing on Twitter, she added he was a "friend of everyone for so long - such sad, sad news".

Former BBC colleagues and journalists from rival broadcasters, as well as some of the politicians he pursued, have taken to social media to pay tribute to his tenacity, kindness and unerring nose for a story.

BBC journalist James Landale, who worked with Mr Lambert for many years at Westminster, called him "a BBC legend, a one man institution, the best fixer in the business".

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'Master of the doorstep'

Based on Downing Street, Mr Lambert's voice was heard on countless news reports putting ministers on the spot as they went about their business.

The nickname "Gobby" was a reference to his booming voice, which he used to project awkward questions towards politicians as they entered cars or walked down the street, known in broadcasting as a "doorstep".

"The point really is to fill in the pieces of the TV bulletin piece that you haven't got pictures to fill in. You know someone isn't going to say anything, you just need something to happen," Mr Lambert explained in 2013.

Others paying tribute on Twitter included journalist, and fellow exponent of the snatched street interview, Michael Crick, who said Mr Lambert was a "master of the political doorstep".

Former chancellor George Osborne said Mr Lambert was "one of the best".

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Trade Minister Conor Burns said: "I remember the first time he shouted questions at me as I walked into Parliament. Went inside with a feeling I'd properly arrived."

Former leader of UKIP Nigel Farage said Mr Lambert was a "unique man and great fun to work with".

Labour MP Yvette Cooper said Mr Lambert was "ever persistent, ever the mischievous grin, ever friendly even when pursuing you with the toughest of questions".

Craig Oliver, a former editor of flagship BBC News bulletins and ex-director of communications at No 10, said: "The start of a thousand TV news reports was Gobby shouting, 'Are you going to resign?'"

Robert Peston, ITV's political editor, said Mr Lambert was a "gent of the old school" who had "the best nose for a story", while Sky News presenter Sophy Ridge described him as a "legend".

BBC presenter Jeremy Vine said Mr Lambert was "an amazing guy, wonderful to work with at Westminster".

Media caption,

As "Gobby" gets ready to start his new role, Newsnight looked back on some of the moments which earned him his nickname.

BBC health editor Hugh Pym said Mr Lambert "always went the extra mile and asked the right question", and BBC news presenter Reeta Chakrabarti said he was "such a central character in our Westminster newsroom for years... and a thoroughly nice man".

Mr Lambert - who started his career as an electrician before working his way up through the ranks at the BBC - left the BBC ahead of the 2015 general election to lead communications for the UK Independence Party.