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George Alagiah in Congregation robes, ahead of receving his honorary degree

We have been deeply saddened to learn of the death of our alumnus George Alagiah. 

George studied politics at Durham University, as a member of Van Mildert College, before going on to a highly successful career in journalism, most notably with the BBC.  

He died on Monday 24 July 2023 aged 67, following a long battle with cancer. 

‘A shining inspiration’ 

Professor Karen O’Brien, our Vice-Chancellor, said: “George Alagiah was one of the finest journalists of his generation.   

“We are so proud of his achievements as a journalist of the highest integrity and calibre, who was a shining inspiration for so many others in his profession.    

“We are very sorry to hear of his death, following his long battle with cancer, and extend our deepest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.” 

A career that reached across the globe 

Born in Colombo, Sri Lanka, George lived in Ghana and England during his childhood. 

He often spoke fondly of his time at Durham University, particularly his College. While at Durham, he met his future wife Frances Robathan and also edited the student newspaper Palatinate. In 2007, we awarded George an honorary degree.  

He began his career with South Magazine, before joining the BBC as a foreign affairs correspondent in 1989. He reported on wars and conflict in Africa and the Balkans, and interviewed many major world leaders.  

Later he switched to presenting, appearing on flagship BBC programmes including the Six O’Clock News. He was appointed an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) by Queen Elizabeth II for services to journalism in 2008.  

As well as his wife, he is survived by two sons.  

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