I GREW up watching Harry Gration on the local news. He seemed to have been around forever.

When I became a journalist our paths occasionally crossed and he was, as you’d expect, friendly and approachable.

You felt in safe hands with Harry on telly. Whether he was grilling a politician in the studio, reporting from a crime scene, working the crowd at a rugby league final or pulling a sofa up a hill for Children in Need, he was a constant professional, with authority and humour, and someone we could trust.

“I am not an aggressive interviewer. I’m not a Piers Morgan type. I always like to listen to the answer before giving the next question,” Harry once said.

It was that quiet, steady journalistic approach that earned him great respect - from his peers, from stars of sport and showbusiness, from viewers and all those who met him over his 40-plus year career. He had a connection with people that is lacking in many TV presenters. We felt like we knew him, even if we didn’t. “Our Harry” is how the Bradford-born broadcaster is remembered in many of the tributes made since the sad news of his death.

When Harry joined the BBC in 1978, TV journalism had gravitas as well as a quirky sense of fun. This was a world away from the drama, shock horror and click bait of digital media, when broken heart emojis and cloying soundbites would become tools of the trade - anathema to those of us who were trained to avoid emotive language in news reporting.

Harry was a no nonsense news presenter, but relaxed and amiable on camera too. “I’ve always lived the story,” he said when he retired in 2020. Whether he was reporting on Jo Cox’s death, the Yorkshire floods, the Bradford riots, or tied to Paul the weatherman for a three-legged cross-county Sports Relief challenge, you knew that he cared, about people and communities, without overdoing it. He could look shaken, moved and sometimes angry at events he was covering, but he remained a news man, and was all the more sincere for it.

For me, Harry was a reminder of the TV legends I watched in my formative years. The likes of Brian Cant, Derek Griffiths, Roy Castle, Johnny Ball, John Noakes. Likeable, fun, enthusiastic, knowledgeable, sometimes a bit cheeky, but always safe hands.

That’s how I wanted TV presenters to be - in charge, like grown-ups. Not for me the chaotic, queasy studio anarchy of Tiswas on Saturday mornings. Watching daft adults being battered with custard pies left me cold. You didn’t get that kind of mess on Swap Shop, with Noel Edmonds at the helm, like a fun teacher in a multi-coloured tank top, but it was much better telly.

In a world that became too loud, too fast and too fake, Harry Gration had a calming presence. He was, as so many have said in recent days, a broadcasting legend. And, as people also remember him, he was a kind man. “He had a nice way about him,” I heard someone say the other day.

Local news presenters of his generation have been and gone. They fall out of fashion, ending up easy targets for ridicule. But Harry stayed with us, well respected and well liked, a no nonsense northerner with that calming presence. He will be much missed.