BBC star says George Alagiah ‘wasn’t afraid to die’ two weeks before death

Allan Little speaks about George Alagiah

Former BBC researcher and reporter Allan Little spoke with BBC News at Six presenter Sophie Raworth on Monday night where they both paid a moving tribute to George Alagiah.

After opening the programme with a tribute to George, Sophie played a clip of her former colleague as a celebration to his career over the years.

She then spoke with George’s pal Allan, who emotionally recalled visiting George in the hospital two weeks ago before he died of bowel cancer.

He told the presenter his friend wasn’t afraid of dying as he “wanted to live his life”.

When speaking with Allan, Sophie began: “Allan joins us live now from this home in Edinburgh. Allan, you did get to know him very well, didn’t you during those years that you worked alongside him in South Africa?”

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In an emotional tribute to George, Allan replied: “The quality that distinguished him as a reporter was the same as the quality that distinguished him as a really fine human being and that was empathy.

“This great ability to put himself in the situation of others and I’ve watched him again and again in multiple situations, winning the trust of people who are living through the worst moments of their lives.”

He continued: “I was so in awe when I started working with him, he was already an established name, and I was trying to find my feet as a correspondent.

“I came to look up to him, almost like an older brother, somebody whose success I could enjoy without envy, and I hoped some of the values that he embodied and lived would rub off on me.”

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Sophie weighed in: “What really struck me about George deeply was just how he dealt with his cancer because he had more than 100 rounds of chemo, he said he’d lost count and he had to have five major operations at least, but somehow, he remained really positive and calm.”

Allan remembered: “He once said to me, sitting in the garden of his house in North London, he said, ‘You know, I’m not afraid to die, I haven’t got time for that. I’ve decided to leave all the worrying to my doctors and get on with my life’.

“The one thing that he found unbearably painful, was the idea of his wife from being left on her own.”

The former BBC broadcaster went on to recall the last time he saw George before he died.

He shared: “He brought that positivity to his cancer and I went to see him two weeks ago today when he was still in hospital and he said, you know, ‘If you haven’t told the people you love that you love them, don’t wait, just tell them’.

“Because what he said was that there is a positive side to cancer. He said, ‘Is it wrong to think there’s a positive side to cancer? Because I’ve had time, time that you don’t get with the brutality of a car crash, to think about my life, reflect on it, make sense of it, and say to the people I love the things I want them to hear’, and it was absolutely typical of George.”

BBC News at Six airs daily on BBC One.

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