Price: exemplified the style BBC bosses wanted to create on Liquid News
Colleagues have paid tribute to the "brilliant talent" of Christopher Price, the BBC presenter who was found dead at his London flat this week.
The 34-year-old front man of Liquid News on BBC Choice and BBC1 was credited with having established the journalistic credibility of entertainment news within the corporation.
Although it attracts only a small audience, the programme has a loyal following and became a model for the channel’s fast-paced news bulletin, Sixty Seconds. A longer programme is planned if BBC3 gets the go-ahead.
Colleagues said Price exemplified the style BBC bosses wanted to create on the programme – he was known for his wit, his irreverent remarks and savvy approach to celebrity news.
"The programme has instilled confidence at the BBC that you can do entertainment journalism without losing journalistic credibility," said Mark Damazer, the BBC’s deputy director of television. "Christopher was a brilliant talent, you don’t invent people like that, and he was a skilled journalist in an area which can be incredibly facile if you are not careful.
"The programme’s now admired by people more likely to be interested in the next twist in the Middle East."
Price was found dead by his friend, BBC1 entertainment correspondent Robert Nesbit, on Monday.
Price joined the BBC in 1991 as a trainee reporter and moved to Radio Berkshire as a reporter in 1993 before joining BBC Southampton in the same year. He moved to BBC Radio Five Live the following year before landing a job as evening presenter and newsreader when BBC News 24 launched in 1997.
Chris Wilson, editorial executive of Liquid News, said: "I organised the screen tests for the presenters and there were lots of big names. But when we saw the tape of Christopher he was absolutely utterly brilliant. We subsequently discovered he had never read an autocue or appeared on TV."
Price fronted a new programme, Zero30, when the 24-hour news channel relaunched, moving to BBC Choice in May 2000 when the programme was scrapped.
"There’s no doubt that the programme has made a success of entertainment news – only the US channels were doing it before and they were too sycophantic. Christopher had just the right attitude and wit and a bit of a twist," said Wilson.