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Former BBC and ITN newsreader Peter Sissons dies aged 77

Former BBC and ITN newsreader Peter Sissons has died at the age of 77, his agent has said.

Sissons retired in 2009 after a 45-year broadcasting career, leaving his role at BBC News to concentrate on writing his autobiography, When One Door Closes, which was published two years later.

A spokesperson for Knight Ayton management said Sissons died peacefully last night at Maidstone Hospital in Kent.

“His wife and three children were with him and wish to pass on their thanks to the hospital staff who were so caring and fought gallantly to save him to the end.”

BBC director general Tony Hall said Sissons “will be missed by his many friends and colleagues”.

“Peter Sissons was one of the great television figures of his time – as an interviewer, presenter and world-class journalist,” he said.

“During his distinguished career he was one of the most recognisable and well-respected faces of television news. He was always a great person to be with and to work with.”

BBC journalist Simon McCoy was among those paying tribute, writing on Twitter that Sissons was a “great journalist and a fine presenter at ITN and the BBC”.

At the time of his retirement Sissons was thought to be Britain’s longest serving news presenter, joining ITN in 1964 after graduating from Oxford University.

He was wounded by gunfire while covering the Biafran War in Nigeria in 1968.

At ITN he also reported on the miners’ strike, the Lockerbie bombing and the furore surrounding the publication of The Satanic Verses – with the Iranian fatwa covering author Salman Rushdie extended to him.

In 1969 he was appointed ITN’s news editor, becoming industrial correspondent a year later, and industrial editor in 1972.

His first role as a news anchor came in 1978, when he began presenting ITN’s News At One.

Asked about his career highlights, Sissons said he was proudest of launching Channel 4 News in 1982. He spent seven years there.

He then joined the BBC in 1989 as the second presenter of Question Time, taking over from Robin Day, as well as joint presenter of the Six O’Clock News.

He moved to the Nine O’Clock News in 1994 and stayed with the programme until it moved to its new time of 10pm. He moved to the BBC News channel with fellow presenter Michael Buerk in 2003.

Sissons, then in his early 60s, accused the corporation of ageism.

“Ageism is still the BBC’s blind spot. Yet it is blindingly obvious that maturity goes with grey hairs.”

Until 2004 he filled in for Huw Edwards, Fiona Bruce and Darren Jordon on the 10 O’Clock News and occasionally presented weekend bulletins on BBC One.

In a gaffe during his time on News 24, not realising the camera was on him, Sissons watched footage featuring Weakest Link presenter and fellow Liverpudlian Anne Robinson and exclaimed: “That’s not Anne Robinson is it? Jesus Christ. She’s even got new tits.”

In another surprise turn, he cameoed as a newsreader in the Spice Girls’ 1997 film Spice World.

Picture: Ian West/PA Wire

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