BBC colleagues and family pay tribute to George Alagiah at memorial service

Colleagues, friends and family members have paid tribute to news presenter George Alagiah during a memorial service held in London.

BBC director general Tim Davie and Alagiah’s former BBC News At Six co-presenter Sophie Raworth were among those who got up to speak.

Three weeks before his death in July, aged 67, Alagiah had dictated to his wife Frances Robathan the words he wanted to be read aloud at the memorial, according to the BBC.

His former co-worker Raworth, 55, shared these words when she spoke at the end of the service, held at St Martin-in-the-Fields church, near London’s Trafalgar Square.

Royal investitures
George Alagiah, journalist and television presenter is made an OBE by The Queen at Buckingham Palace (Martin Keene/PA)

He had left those close to him the following instructions: “If you haven’t already told the people you love that you love them, tell them;

“If you haven’t already told them how vulnerable you sometimes feel, tell them;

“If you want to tell them that you’d like to be with them until the front hall stairs feel like Everest, tell them.

“You never know what is coming around the corner.

“And if, lucky you, there is nothing around the corner, then at least you got your defence in first.”

The BBC reported that the congregation also heard stories from Alagiah’s sons – Adam Alagiah-Glomseth and Matthew Alagiah – who read passages from their father’s books.

Elsewhere, his sisters – Mari Martin, Rachel Stojan, Chris Dennington and Jenny Johnson – spoke of the profound impact of migration on their childhoods.

Alagiah was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka, before his family moved to Ghana due to ethnic unrest, later being educated in England.

On a screen, a montage of photographs showed Alagiah working in different areas of the world and at home with his family.

The collection of images was accompanied by the BBC’s Russia editor Steve Rosenberg playing piano.

During the service, Davie spoke to the congregation and said: “To a whole generation of audiences, he was the very best of us.”

At the end of the order of service, a final round of applause for Alagiah was given, before Raworth read out his words.

The BBC paid tribute to the presenter during Tuesday’s BBC News At Six.

Reporting from the memorial service, journalist Jon Kay said: “In all the tributes, one clear message. That what mattered most to George was family.”

Among those paying their respects to the newsreader online was TV presenter Jeremy Vine, who wrote on X, formerly Twitter: “May this wonderful man rest in peace.”

Meanwhile, BBC reporter Kay wrote that it was “an honour” to report on the memorial service.