George Alagiah | BBC Newsreader | Obituary

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Obituary – George Alagiah – BBC Newsreader

The foreign correspondent and newsreader George Alagiah, who has died aged 67 of cancer, was one of Britain’s most respected television journalists, with a reputation built up over many years of covering world events.

In a business often seen as cut-throat, George was regarded by colleagues as likable and decent, a view shared by millions of viewers. For the BBC he reported on the famine and the US intervention in Somalia in the early 1990s, and on the genocide in Rwanda and its aftermath. He was one of the news team who in 1999 secured pictures of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, for which they won the Bafta for best news and current affairs journalism.

  • Died: July 24th, 2023
  • Details of death: died after a battle with cancer

Broadcasting Career

Alagiah joined the BBC in 1989 after seven years in print journalism with South Magazine. Before becoming a presenter, he was Developing World correspondent, based in London, and then Southern Africa correspondent in Johannesburg. As one of the BBC’s leading foreign correspondents, he reported on events ranging from the genocide in Rwanda to the plight of the Marsh Arabs in southern Iraq to the civil wars in Afghanistan, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Somalia.

In 1999, Alagiah became the deputy anchor of the BBC One O’Clock News and BBC Nine O’Clock News. He was the presenter of BBC Four News from its launch in 2002; the programme was later relaunched as The World and then another edition of World News Today. In January 2003 he joined the BBC Six O’Clock News, which he co-presented with Sophie Raworth until October 2005, and with Natasha Kaplinsky until October 2007. In December 2007, he became the sole presenter of the Six O’Clock News. In 2006, he began presenting World News Today on BBC World News and BBC Two, which was rebranded GMT on 1 February 2010. He last appeared on the programme in 2014. He was formerly a relief presenter on BBC News at Ten, presenting mainly Monday to Thursday when main presenters Huw Edwards and Fiona Bruce were unavailable.

A specialist on Africa and the developing world, Alagiah interviewed, among others, Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan and President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. His other documentaries and features include reports on why affirmative action in America is a “Lost Cause”, for the Assignment programme, Saddam Hussein’s genocidal campaign against the Kurds of northern Iraq for the BBC’s Newsnight programme and a report on the last reunion of the veterans of Dunkirk.

Personal Life & Illness

Alagiah was married to Frances Robathan, whom he met at Durham University. They had two children, Adam and Matthew, and lived in Stoke Newington, North London.

In April 2014, it was announced that Alagiah was being treated for colorectal cancer. A statement from the BBC said: “He is grateful for all the good wishes he has received thus far and is optimistic for a positive outcome.” On 28 June, Alagiah announced on Twitter that he was making “encouraging progress”. In late October 2015 he announced on Twitter that the treatment was officially over, and he returned to the BBC on 10 November. In January 2018 it emerged that the cancer had returned and he would undergo further treatment.

In March 2018, in an interview with The Sunday Times, Alagiah noted that his cancer was terminal and could have been caught earlier if the screening programme in England, which is automatically offered from the age of 60, was the same as that in Scotland, where it is automatically offered from the age of 50.

In June 2020, Alagiah said that cancer had spread to his lungs, liver and lymph nodes, but was not at a “chronic” or “terminal” stage. In October 2022, Alagiah announced that his cancer had spread further and he took a break from television to undergo a new series of treatment.

Alagiah died from the illness on 24 July 2023, at the age of 67.

Date of birth: 22nd November 1955

Date of Death: 24th July 2023 (aged 83)

 

Sources:

Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Alagiah

Guardian – https://www.theguardian.com/media/2023/jul/24/george-alagiah-obituary