Sir Alastair Burnet dies at 84

 
Sir Alastair Burnet Sir Alastair Burnet

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Veteran newsreader Sir Alastair Burnet, best known for fronting ITV's News At Ten, has died aged 84.

In a statement, his family said he died at a nursing home in London, where he was being cared for after suffering several strokes.

The broadcaster presented his last news bulletin in August 1991, after retiring at the age of 63.

Close friend Andrew Neil called him "one of the greatest journalists of his generation".

"He will also always be recalled by family, friends and colleagues for his unparalleled professionalism, humour and gentlemanly kindness, especially to journalists starting out on their careers," fellow journalist Mr Neil said in tribute.

"Joy it was to be in his company and he was an inspiration to many who followed in his footsteps - the broadcasters' broadcaster."

Sir Alastair also had a distinguished career as a print journalist, editing publications such as The Economist and The Daily Express.

'Shoulders of giants'

He joined ITN in 1963 as its political editor, before switching to newsreading four years later.

Although remembered for his ITV work during the early and later stages of his career, he spent a short period at the BBC working on Panorama and fronted two general election programmes in 1974.

ITV News presenter Alistair Stewart said "Professionally, I owe Alastair everything. He was my friend and mentor - he was everything I ever aspired to be.

"Intellectually a giant and yet the kindest and most generous of men; he had an encyclopaedic knowledge of politics and yet a passionate and detailed grasp of the ins and outs of soccer."

John Hardie, chief executive of ITN, paid tribute to the broadcaster: "ITN stands on the shoulders of giants, none greater than Sir Alastair Burnet.

"He defined newscasting for a generation and his influence is still clearly evident today. He set the bar to a standard that has never been surpassed, and perhaps not even equalled.

"Sir Alastair will be sorely missed by many here at ITN, but his legacy lives on."

Helen Boaden, director of BBC News, praised his "energy and drive" as unique.

"He was one of the great voices of television journalism and we at the BBC always admired his authority and presence," she added.

 

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