A Midlands broadcasting legend has died at the age of 85.

Bob Gillman, the founding editor of ATV Today, the forerunner of Central News at Six, was the first journalist to be employed by ATV in 1958.

He ended his TV career as head of regional development in the run-up to Central's franchise application.

Bob Warman, Central's senior presenter, and himself a veteran of ATV Today, led the tributes.

He said: "I will always be grateful to Bob Gillman who gave me my first break in television. He was a conscientious journalist with a keen news sense and an instinct for what appealed to a regional television audience.

"Although he was a good age, his death came as a surprise. Only the day before we were having lunch together and he seemed in great form."

Robert Valentine Gillman - who was christened to reflect his birth date, February 14 - was the son of Freddie Gillman, editor of the Birmingham Evening Despatch.

Educated at King Edward's Camp Hill, he followed in his father's journalistic footsteps, first at the Warwick Advertiser and then the Birmingham Evening Despatch.

During the early 1950s he spent six years as news editor of the East African Standard in Nairobi during the height of the Mau Mau crisis.

He was the first journalist to interview Archbishop Makarios following his exile to the Seychelles in 1956.

Although he retired from Central Television twenty years ago, his name remained at the heart of the Midlands' media community through his quarterly lunches which he hosted right up to his death.

As editor of ATV's flagship news show, Mr Gillman was credited with spotting new talent, including Chris Tarrant. Tarrant's application for a job read that he considered himself to be "the new face television was looking for".

Mr Gillman's wife, Peg Craig-Browne, died 15 years ago. Their son Steve lives in Droitwich.

The funeral will take place at Stourbridge Crematorium at 2pm on September 12.