Colin Bell, one of the most influential Scottish broadcasters of the 20th century, has died aged 83.
In the 1990s he was presenter of Radio Scotland’s Head On programme and fronted the station’s millennium series, Scotland’s Century.
Colin was rector of Aberdeen University between 1991 and 1994, a senior SNP office bearer and a passionate advocate for Scottish independence.
He was also a father of four, and a working journalist known not just for his vast knowledge of current and historical affairs but his keen intellect.
Colin already had almost 30 years of journalism below his belt when he moved into broadcasting in the mid 1980s.
He had always made occasional radio and television appearances but when Ken Bruce moved from Radio Scotland to Radio 2, a vacancy arose in Glasgow.
Colin was given an afternoon talk show, Taking Issue, before moving to a morning slot with Head On.
He became a national institution in the 1980s and 1990s, a time of change in Scotland, when the Scottish Constitutional Convention was active, the devolution referendum took place and the Scottish Parliament was reconvened.
Born into a Ross-shire family who were working in London, Colin was educated at St Paul’s School in London.
He won a scholarship to King’s College, Cambridge, and graduated in 1959 with a double first in history. He was a member of The Apostles, a select group of the most able students.
Colin then began work at the London office of The Scotsman, working with Neal Ascherson, Richard Kershaw and George Hume among others.
During this time, he also taught economic history at his old Cambridge college.
In 1974, Colin left London to become The Scotsman’s leader writer at its Edinburgh headquarters.
He later moved to the Sunday Mail and began his occasional television and radio appearances.
It was during his time at the Glasgow newspaper that BBC Scotland offered him his own show, which was first broadcast in January 1985.
Colin remained one of Radio Scotland’s most distinctive and authoritative voices for the best part of 15 years.
Politics had always played a major part in Colin’s life. In 1979 he stood for the SNP in Edinburgh West and in the same year for the party in the North East of Scotland European Parliamentary seat.
In the early 1980s he beat Alex Salmond to become publicity convener of the SNP. However, Colin later left the party because he did not consider it socialist enough.
Colin had a three-year spell as rector of Aberdeen University from 1991, having beaten Canon Kenyon Wright, convener of the Scottish Constitutional Convention, and Perth and Kinross MP and former solicitor general Sir Nicholas Fairbairn.
He saw the rectorship as a working post rather than ceremonial and said he felt a responsibility to represent the interests and views of students.
Colin was married to Caroline Rose Bell (nee Thomson) and had three daughters, one son and six grandchildren.