George Alagiah

George Alagiah Wiki – George Alagiah Bio

George Alagiah, one of the BBC’s longest-serving and most respected journalists, has died at 67, nine years after being diagnosed with cancer. A statement from his agent said he “died peacefully today, surrounded by his family and loved ones.”

A fixture on British TV news for more than three decades, he has presented the BBC News at Six for the past 20 years. Before that, he was an award-winning foreign correspondent, reporting from countries ranging from Rwanda to Iraq.

He was a British newsreader, journalist and television presenter. From 2007 until 2022, he was the presenter of the BBC News at Six and was previously the main presenter of GMT on BBC World News from its launch in 2010 until 2014. He was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2008 New Year Honours.

George Maxwell Alagiah was born in Colombo, Ceylon on 22 November 1955. His parents, Donald Alagiah, an engineer, and Therese, were Sri Lankan Tamil. In 1961, his parents moved to Ghana in West Africa, where he had his primary education at Christ the King International School. He had four sisters. His secondary education took place at St John’s College, an independent Roman Catholic school in Portsmouth, England, after which he read politics at Van Mildert College, Durham University. Whilst at Durham, he wrote for and became editor of the student newspaper Palatinate and was a sabbatical officer of Durham Students’ Union.

Age

George Alagiah died at the age of 67 years old.

Career

Fellow journalists including LBC’s Sangita Myska, the Guardian’s Pippa Crerar and Sky News’s Mark Austin were among those to also pay tribute.

Austin tweeted: “This breaks my heart. A good man, a rival on the foreign correspondent beat but above all a friend. If good journalism is about empathy, and it often is, George Alagiah had it in spades.”

Myska noted Alagiah’s influence on British Asian reporters.

“Growing up, when the BBC’s George Alagiah was on TV my dad would shout “George is on!”. We’d run to watch the man who inspired a generation of British Asian journalists. That scene was replicated across the UK. We thank you, George. RIP xx”

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 program 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 program 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 program and a report on the last reunion of the veterans of Dunkirk.

Wife & Children

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.

Cause of Daeth

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 June 28, 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 November 10. 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 program 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 the 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 of illness on 24 July 2023, at the age of 67.

Tributes

Former BBC North American editor Jon Sopel wrote: “Tributes will rightly be paid to a fantastic journalist and brilliant broadcaster – but George was the most decent, principled, kindest, most honorable man I have ever worked with. What a loss.”

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BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner recalled Alagiah visiting him in hospital after he was shot and critically injured in an al-Qaeda attack in Saudi Arabia in 2004.

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“He brought me his book from him A Passage to Africa, and we talked for hours about the continent he loved and spent so much of his career covering. A true journalist and a great author.”