When he burst on to our screens as the BBC's political editor, Andrew Marr's sheer enthusiasm made politics on the telly far more interesting than it had ever been before. Critics may complain that he waves his arms around but what he says always makes sense.
Andrew Marr was born on July 31, 1959, in Glasgow. The son of traditionally-minded parents, he was privately educated in Scotland before gaining a first-class degree in English at Trinity Hall, Cambridge. He didn't wait long before deciding on journalism as a career: by 1981 he had joined The Scotsman as a trainee reporter.
But it seems that he felt he didn't have much choice in the matter. "I was a scientifically illiterate innocent with the entrepreneurial instincts of a thirteenth-century peasant and the iron determination of a butterfly. Journalism seemed the only option," he wrote in his autobiography.
It may have been the only option but it was an option that suited him. After a variety of posts at The Scotsman and The Independent, Andrew became political editor at The Economist in 1988 - a four-year spell that he recalls as being the first job he was properly paid for.
In 1992 he returned to The Independent, becoming its editor in 1996. His stint at the famously difficult-to-market newspaper was eventful - and ultimately unsuccessful. As the nineties drew to a close, Andrew was drawing on his now extensive experience as a top political journalist to write columns for The Express and The Observer.
ARMS AND THE MAN
Andrew's appointment in 2000 as the BBC's political editor made him a household name. His determination to explain to us why politics matters, along with his obvious enthusiasm for the subject, led to television appearances that became as famous for their expansive arm movements as their political insight.
But that insight was spot-on. The newspaper man took to television like a duck to water. He certainly relished the teamwork involved in broadcasting, comparing it favourably to the relatively solitary working life of the writer and declaring that: "Television is less up itself than print journalism."
In 2005, Andrew stood down as political editor but his phenomenal work-rate hasn't decreased. As well as writing for several publications, he presents Radio 4's Start the Week and the Andrew Marr Show, BBC One's flagship Sunday morning political programme.
More recently, he has focussed his prodigious intellect on the events that shaped the nation in the wake of World War Two. Andrew Marr's History of Modern Britain is a fascinating journey through a historical landscape many of us are old enough to remember ourselves. "This is history, but it's only just history," he says. "Almost everything I talk about was lived through, up close, by people who will be watching or reading. It's their story."
Andrew is married to fellow political journalist Jackie Ashley and they have three children. His hobbies include painting, cooking and running. But books are his real passion. He describes his enthusiasm for books as "just this side of pervy" and looks forward to an old age of "creeping round second-hand bookshops, sniffing the produce, snuffling with pleasure."
But there's one sort of retail therapy that you won't find Andrew indulging in: "Shopping for clothes is a loathsome, soul-rotting, foot-throbbingly boring waste of one's short time on the planet. I just can't stand it."