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George Alagiah, Respected BBC Journalist and Presenter, Dies at 67

Flowers on a casket. (Unsplash)

Respected BBC journalist and presenter George Alagiah died of bowel cancer on July 24. He was 67.

BBC director general Tim Davie said: “Across the BBC, we are all incredibly sad to hear the news about George. We are thinking of his family at this time. George was one of the best and bravest journalists of his generation who reported fearlessly from across the world as well as presenting the news flawlessly. He was more than just an outstanding journalist, audiences could sense his kindness, empathy and wonderful humanity. He was loved by all and we will miss him enormously.”

Alagiah reported and presented for the BBC for more than three decades, presenting the BBC “News at Six” for the past 20 years. He was an award-winning foreign correspondent previously.

Born in Sri Lanka before moving to Ghana and then England in childhood, Alagiah joined the BBC as a foreign affairs correspondent in 1989 and then became the Africa correspondent. He won accolades for his reports on the famine and war in Somalia in the early 1990s, and was nominated for a BAFTA in 1994 for covering Saddam Hussein’s campaign against the Kurds of northern Iraq.

He was named Amnesty International’s journalist of the year in 1994 for reporting on the civil war in Burundi and also won the Broadcasting Press Guild’s award for television journalist of the year.

Before being made one of the main presenters of the BBC “News at Six” in 2003, Alagiah presented the BBC “One O’Clock News,” “Nine O’Clock News” and “BBC Four News.” He also presented his own show on BBC World News for several years.

He was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to journalism in 2008.

Alagiah was diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer in 2014 and returned to presenting the following year. He continued to present for the BBC when not receiving treatment.

He is survived by his wife of 40 years, Frances Robathan, two sons and three grandchildren. 

Homages are pouring in for the departed journalist. Fellow broadcaster John Simpson tweeted: “Deeply, deeply sorry to hear about dear George Alagiah. A gentler, kinder, more insightful and braver friend and colleague it would be hard to find. I loved having his company in the BBC World Affairs Unit, and his progress after that was a pleasure to watch.”

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