George Alagiah obituary as one of BBC’s longest-serving newsreaders passes away

George Alagiah was a well-liked and reassuring presence behind a BBC Information desk for greater than 20 years, his unflappable manner making him a success with viewers.

He joined the company in 1989 and was one of the broadcaster’s main international correspondents, submitting dispatches on topics starting from the Rwandan genocide to civil wars throughout Africa.

Alagiah was born within the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo in 1955 when town was nonetheless thought of half of the previous British territory of Ceylon.

BBC newsreader George Alagiah has handed away

(PA Media)

Throughout the BBC’s protection of the 2004 Asian tsunami, he returned to the nation to search out that his grandfather’s former residence had been destroyed within the pure catastrophe.

Alagiah was compelled to take a break from tv following his bowel most cancers prognosis in 2014 and shared updates as he battled the illness, together with in June 2020 when he revealed it had unfold to his lungs.

Alagiah spent half his of childhood in Ghana in west Africa the place he moved together with his engineer father Donald and mom Therese.

He moved to the UK to attend secondary college in Portsmouth after which he learn politics at Durham College.

Throughout his research at Durham he was the editor of the coed paper and a sabbatical officer of the scholars’ union.

It was there that he met his spouse Frances Robathan. The couple married in 1984 and share two sons Adam and Matthew.

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Alagiah was made an OBE by the late Queen at Buckingham Palace

(Martin Keene/PA Wire)

Earlier than beginning with the BBC, Alagiah was primarily based in Johannesburg as growing world correspondent for South Journal.

He was half of the BBC workforce that gained a Bafta Award in 2000 for its reporting of the battle in Kosovo, one of a number of prizes he acquired throughout his broadcasting profession.

After first presenting BBC 4 Information in 2002 he went on to co-anchor the firms 6pm information bulletin, first alongside Sophie Raworth after which Natasha Kaplinsky.

Alagiah was one the BBC’s longest-serving newsreaders

(Press Affiliation Photographs)

From 2007 he was the programmes sole presenter whereas he was additionally a aid presenter for Information at Ten.

He interviewed a number of world leaders together with Nelson Mandela, Robert Mugabe and former UN Secretary-Normal Kofi Annan.

In 2008, he was made an OBE within the New Yr Honours listing.

The next yr he was requested by the BBC’s administration to step down from his position as a patron of the Fairtrade Basis.

The company defined that primarily based on its ideas of impartiality his position with the group represented an expert battle of curiosity.

Posing together with his OBE in 2008

(PA Archive)

It was first introduced in April 2014 that he had been identified with bowel most cancers. It was later revealed the illness had unfold to his liver and lymph nodes.

After present process remedy he revealed on social media in October 2015 that he would return to work, subsequently showing on-screen in November.

An ever-popular presenter, his return was welcomed by viewers and his fellow journalists, together with presenters of competing information programmes.

In 2016, Alagiah stated he was a “richer particular person” for his most cancers prognosis, which noticed him endure a number of rounds of chemotherapy and three main operations, one of which included the removing of most of his liver.

Alagiah’s well being was again within the headlines in March 2020, when amid a world pandemic he examined constructive for Covid-19.

He credited his expertise of preventing most cancers with serving to him cope with the “gentle” case of coronavirus.

Attending a Dragons Den-style occasion at a secondary college in Glasgow

(Danny Lawson/PA Wire)

In June 2020, Alagiah revealed the most cancers had unfold to his lungs however delivered a sometimes philosophical judgment.

He instructed the Occasions newspaper: “My docs have by no means used the phrase ‘continual’ or ‘treatment’ about my most cancers.

“They’ve by no means used the phrase ‘terminal’ both. I’ve at all times stated to my oncologist, ‘Inform me once I must kind my affairs out’, and he’s not instructed me that, however what he did inform me is that the most cancers is now in a 3rd organ. It’s in my lungs.”

Alagiah stated he had saved the event a secret, solely telling his editor.

He stated: “I stated to my physician, ‘You’re going to should do the worrying for me.’ I don’t wish to fill my thoughts with fear. I simply know that he’s a intelligent man, doing all the things he can.”

He first offered BBC 4 Information alongside Sophie Raworth


In October 2021, a consultant for Alagiah introduced that he can be taking a step again from his presenting and journalism duties as he offers with “an extra unfold of most cancers”.

Throughout an interview in January 2022, Alagiah spoke candidly about his lengthy battle with most cancers, saying “it can get me ultimately,” earlier than including “I’m hoping it’s a very long time from now, however I’m very fortunate”.

Regardless of his matter of truth strategy to the illness, Alagiah remained constructive when reflecting on his profession and household life.

“I needed to cease and say, ‘Cling on a minute. If the total cease got here now, would my life have been a failure?’,” he stated.

He added: “And really, once I look again and I checked out my journey… the household I had, the alternatives my household had, the good luck to stumble upon (Frances Robathan), who’s now been my spouse and lover for all these years, the children that we introduced up… it didn’t really feel like a failure.”

He had reported from conflicts in Rwanda and Kosovo and interviewed a quantity of world leaders (Macmillan Most cancers Assist/PA)

(PA Media)

Alagiah quickly returned to BBC Information At Six in April 2022.

Nevertheless, in October he as soon as once more introduced that he had been compelled to take time away from his work after scans confirmed that the most cancers had unfold additional.

Whereas sharing the information, Alagiah stated: “A latest scan confirmed that my most cancers has unfold additional so it’s again to some powerful stuff.

“I’m lacking my colleagues. Working within the newsroom has been such an necessary half of protecting energised and motivated.

“I look ahead to being again in that studio as quickly as I can.”

The presenter fought a protracted battle in opposition to most cancers


Away from journalism, Alagiah was a broadcast writer and his debut novel was shortlisted for a Society Of Authors award.

His thriller The Burning Land, about corruption and murder in South Africa, was within the operating for the Paul Torday memorial prize, which is awarded to a primary novel by a author over 60.

Paying tribute to his colleague on Monday, BBC director-general Tim Davie stated: “Throughout the BBC, we’re all extremely unhappy to listen to the information about George. We’re considering of his household presently.

“George was one of the very best and bravest journalists of his era who reported fearlessly from the world over as nicely as presenting the information flawlessly.

“He was extra than simply an excellent journalist, audiences might sense his kindness, empathy and fantastic humanity. He was liked by all and we are going to miss him enormously.”

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