Legendary former News At Ten presenter, Sir Alistair Burnet, has passed away at the grand age of 84.
The presenter, who has been labelled as “simply the best” by many, has been praised his fellow ITN host, Alistair Stewart, who he had mentored throughout his career, who called him an “intellectual giant” and commented: “He was everything I ever aspired to be.
“He was simply the best we ever had — the best we’ll ever have.”
According to the Sun newspaper, the popular presenter passed away in a nursing home in Kensington, West London, after a series of strokes.
Sir Alistair hosted the New At Ten from its launch in 1967, and retired from the news programme, which he made his mark on with his notorious catch phrase “And finally” which accompanied his closing story, in 1991.
His charming persona and creative way with words found him fame with “plain folk” who found that he had made the content much more accessible to every class of viewer, and was such a hit with the network that he was the front-runner for many big occasions, such as Prince Charles and Lady Diana’s wedding in 1981.
Speaking during the Apollo 11 Moon landing in 1969, which he anchored, he told viewers: “There it is, the old Moon — the one the cow jumped over, the one the poets wrote about, the one that lovers made love to.
“And from now on, it’s going to be rather a different one.”
So well know was he that he was even given his own spoof puppet on the political comedy, Spitting Image, in the 1980’s, as well as fronting two General Elections in 1974 for the BBC and going on to edit the Daily Express and The Economist publications.
His friend and fellow news presenter, Andrew Neil, labelled Sir Alistair as “one of the greatest journalists of his generation”, commenting: “Joy it was to be in his company and he was an inspiration to many who followed in his footsteps — the broadcasters’ broadcaster.”
Sir David Nicholas, ex-chief executive of ITN, said: “He set a style of news presentation that was authoritative, well-informed and friendly.”
A statement issued on behalf of Sir Alastair’s family said: “He passed away peacefully in the middle of the night.”
Watch Sir Alistair’s Spitting Image A Day In The Life Of in the clip below:
We would like to wish the family of Sir Alistair our deepest and sincerest sympathies at this very sad and difficult time.