George Alagiah steps back from presenting BBC News at Six after scans show cancer spreads further
BBC News At Six popular anchor George Alagiah has announced that he is taking a break from presenting the channel’s evening news bulletin after discovering his cancer has spread further, his agent has said.
The 66-year-old journalist was first diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer in 2014 and has stepped back from presenting intermittently for treatment since then. He subsequently returned to the news programme last April.
In a statement released through his agent, Mary Greenham, he said working in the newsroom "has been such an important part of keeping energised and motivated" and that
"it’s back to the tough stuff" after a scan showed his cancer had spread. He also said he was “missing my colleagues”, adding that he was looking forward to returning to the studio “as soon as I can”.
In January, Alagiah said he thought the cancer he had had since 2014 would "probably get me in the end", but he still feels "very lucky". Speaking on the podcast Desperately Seeking Wisdom, he said that when his cancer was first diagnosed, it took a while for him to understand what he "needed to do".
"I had to stop and say, ‘Hang on a minute. If the full stop came now, would my life have been a failure? And actually, when I look back and I looked at my journey... the family I had, the opportunities my family had, the great good fortune to bump into (Frances Robathan), who’s now been my wife and lover for all these years, the kids that we brought up... it didn’t feel like a failure."
Alagiah underwent 17 rounds of chemotherapy to treat his advanced bowel cancer in 2014, and when he returned to presenting the following year, he said he was a "richer person" as a result.
The Sri-Lankan born has worked as a BBC News foreign correspondent and expert on Africa and the developing world in addition to presenting the news. He has covered events like the Rwandan genocide and had interviews with Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.