View all newsletters
Sign up for our free email newsletters

Fighting for quality news media in the digital age.

  1. News
June 23, 2020updated 30 Sep 2022 9:25am

‘Are they talking about me?’ BBC’s George Alagiah on seeing headlines about his cancer diagnosis

By PA Mediapoint

BBC newsreader George Alagiah has recalled seeing headlines about his cancer diagnosis and thinking it was time to “start ordering the white lilies”.

The TV journalist, 64, was first diagnosed with the illness in 2014 and later said it had spread from his bowel to his liver, lymph nodes and lungs.

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live yesterday he said: “I saw some of the headlines actually about it and thought: ‘Oh my God, are they talking about me?’

“I thought it was time to start ordering the white lilies.”

White lilies are common at funerals and symbolise the soul of the departed.

Alagiah said he judged the seriousness of his condition by his doctors’ reactions.

He said: “I take my cue from my doctors and they don’t look scared to me. I’ve known them now for six years.

Content from our partners
Cannes Lions: The world's best creativity all in one place
L'Equipe signs content syndication deal with The Content Exchange
Journalism can be relentless: But overworking could be fatal

“In fact I said to one of them a couple of years ago, that he better do the worrying for me, because I can’t deal with that.

“I’m not going to spend the time I’ve got worrying.

“I want to spend the time I’ve got living and doing the things I want to do and enjoying my family and friends.”

Speaking about the moment in April when his doctor told him his cancer had spread to his lungs, he added: “I look at him when he gives me news, like the news he gave me earlier this year that it had spread.

“I look in his eyes and he didn’t look frightened, so I’m not frightened.”

Alagiah, who tested positive for Covid-19 in March, said he had begun to see his extended family again while maintaining social distancing.

He said: “We’ve started over the last three weekends, actually doing the whole marching them through the house and into the garden.

“What’s really, really, really difficult is my granddaughter, because she’s 18, 19 months and does she get social distancing? No, she doesn’t get social distancing, and it’s so hard.”

Alagiah was diagnosed with bowel cancer in April 2014 and again in December 2017.

Picture: BBC News at Six

Topics in this article :

Email pged@pressgazette.co.uk to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
Thank you

Thanks for subscribing.

Websites in our network