The BBC has announced the death of former political journalist Colin MacKay at 79.

MacKay, who also worked for STV for almost 20 years, retired from BBC News in 2008 but continued there on a freelance basis until weeks ago.

On the broadcaster’s website, the BBC said he interviewed seven prime ministers, including Margaret Thatcher.

MacKay began his career in broadcast journalism in the 1960s, working at Border TV and Grampian TV before becoming political editor at STV in 1973.

After leaving STV, he joined BBC Radio Scotland, presenting People and Power on a weekly basis.

He went on to present Politics Tonight.

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In a quote on the BBC’s website, Gary Smith, head of news and current affairs at BBC Scotland, said MacKay was a “brilliant political journalist, wonderful colleague, and lovely man”.

He added: “In the busy world of journalism he was – to the end – a pillar of the old-fashioned values of courtesy, humour and erudition.

“I know he will be much missed by those he worked with at the BBC and STV, by politicians from all parties across Scotland, and by the audiences of the many programmes he presented over the years.”

On X, formerly Twitter, a number of tributes from the news and political spheres were posted.

Colin Mackay, political editor for STV News, who shares the same name and former job title of MacKay, wrote: “Very sad to hear of the death of Colin Mackay, former Political Editor at STV and formerly of Radio Clyde and BBC Scotland.

“He was a great broadcaster, interviewer and a lovely person.”

Journalist Neil Drysdale wrote: “Very sad news. Colin was an excellent, and scrupulously fair journalist and a very decent, congenial man!

“Condolences to his family! (Too many good people have gone already this month!)”

Former SNP MP Alex Neil wrote: “This is very sad news. Colin was a really nice guy. He was so professional that nobody other than himself knew his political affiliation if he had one.

“Very very sorry to hear of his death. RIP Colin”

Former deputy first minister John Swinney said: “Such sad news. Colin was a magnificent broadcaster of the highest standards, accompanied by unfailing courtesy.”

BBC Scotland was contacted for comment.