Colleagues hail 'best ever' Burnet

Former News At Ten presenter Sir Alastair Burnet has been hailed by colleagues as "the best we'll ever have" after his death at the age of 84.

The broadcaster - also a distinguished reporter, national newspaper editor and a voice of state occasions - died following a series of strokes.

He anchored numerous elections, the first Moon landing and the wedding of the Prince of Wales to the then Lady Diana Spencer, as well as becoming known for his royal documentaries.

Fellow newscasters, presenters and TV executives were united in their admiration. Friend and broadcaster Andrew Neil called him "one of the greatest journalists of his generation".

ITN presenter Alastair Stewart, to whom Sir Alastair had been a mentor, said: "He was everything I ever aspired to be. Intellectually a giant, and yet the kindest and most generous of men." He added: "He was simply the best we ever had - the best we'll ever have."

Ex-News At Ten host Sir Trevor McDonald said: "He believed that the business of news in the democracy was a serious business. It must be given serious thought and he was prepared to put that serious thought into it and that's what made him such a great talent in our industry."

BBC newsreader Huw Edwards called him "one of the true greats of British television news". He added: "Viewers liked and respected his authority and experience, and his understated style."

Although best remembered for his years working as a newscaster and reporter for ITN, Sir Alastair also spent some time at the BBC, as well as editing the Daily Express. And he somehow found time to edit The Economist in tandem with his TV career.

Sir Alastair famously found himself mocked by satirical series Spitting Image, due to his sympathetic documentary portraits of the royals. And his puppet character featured in a spoof sketch about the deaths of prominent figures, declaring: "Tonight's main headline - someone famous has died."

A statement on behalf of Sir Alastair's family said: "He passed away peacefully in the middle of the night at the Beatrice Place Nursing Home in Kensington, where he was being cared for after suffering several strokes."