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25th Jul 2023

George Alagiah makes heartbreaking final BBC News appearance in recorded clip

Steve Hopkins

‘In his own words’

George Alagiah’s last appearance on BBC News was in October last year after the newsreader announced he was taking time off because of his battle with cancer, but he had pre-recorded a clip for the broadcaster.

The 67-year-old, who died Monday, was the face of BBC News at Six since 2007.

George was diagnosed with bowel cancer nine years ago.

The dad-of-two underwent 17 rounds of chemotherapy and five operations in 2014 to battle the disease that had spread to his liver and lymph nodes.

George returned to work in April last year, crediting his job as keeping him “energised and motivated”.

Just six months later, George announced he needed to take time off after a scan showed his cancer had spread.

George’s friend and colleague, Sophie Raworth, explained just hours after his death that she has seen the newsreader just weeks ago and that he had hoped to farewell viewers live.

“He didn’t get the chance. So we have done it for him,” she said.

“I’ll leave you now with George Alagiah in his own words.”

A voiceover from George could be heard over a video clip of him speaking about his life and cancer fight before the screen faded as he appeared again, the Mirror reported.

In the clip, George said: “My life, for what it is worth, is divided into pre-cancer and post-cancer. The weird thing about a bowel cancer journey is you don’t really know the beginning and you don’t really know the end.”

He continued: “So I know the day I was diagnosed with bowel cancer, but I don’t know when it started. Because I was at the top of my game, I was having a fantastic time at work and home, and then suddenly you hear those words, ‘I’m sorry to tell you Mr Alagiah, you’ve got bowel cancer’.

“At first when you’re told, you don’t know how to respond and it took me a while to understand what I needed to do. For me, I had to get a place of contentment and the only way I knew how to do that was literally to look back at my life.”

George said when he looks “back at my journey”, the opportunities he had, his family, “the great good fortune to bump into Fran who’s been my wife and lover for all these years. The kids that we brought up, it didn’t feel like a failure.”

While wishing he never had cancer, George said he is glad “of the things I’ve learned about myself and about my community, my friends and my family as a result.”

“I have gotten to a place to see life as a gift. Rather than kind of worrying about when it’s going to end and how it’s going to end, I’ve got to a place where I can see it for the gift it is. I feel that gift keenly every morning.”

In January, the Sri-Lankan born star said he thought the cancer would “probably get me in the end”, but insisted he still felt “very lucky”.

Related links:

BBC newsreader George Alagiah dies at age of 67

Clive Myrie holds back tears as he pays tribute to George Alagiah

Bruce Bogtrotter star quit acting after Matilda to become a doctor