David Dimbleby has urged politicians to speak their mind more often as he was acknowledged for his decades-long service to the television industry.
The veteran broadcaster was honoured at the National Television Awards just weeks after he stepped down as chair of Question Time.
After a show reel of his career was played, the election night staple took to the stage to give a speech that heaped praise on the BBC, where he worked since he was a young reporter.
The 80-year-old said: “All the things you saw there were on the BBC. I’ve been a fan all my life. I began with the BBC, I think it’s one of the great national institutions.
“I know many of the people we are seeing tonight are from other channels but I think the existence of the BBC - the continuation of the BBC - is absolutely vital for our national life. However it’s threatened by Netflix or other competition.
“The BBC still holds a heart in the place of the British people.”
He also revealed how he had “one regret” in his career: “Too few politicians of a senior nature willing to go in front of you, the voters.
“I respect politicians ... I know it is unpopular ... I do not share the view they are charlatans. I think they have a difficult job, but I wish they would come out more often in front of the Question Time audience and say what they think.
“People always say to me: ‘Why do politicians never answer a question?’
“Answers are difficult to give. I understand it. We see them labouring with the result of whatever it was we decided in the referendum in 2016.
“That will go on and on. The work they do is serious, and important.”