Tributes have poured in for Sir Alastair Burnet who has died at the age of 84.

Burnet led the way in British broadcasting, becoming the first co-anchor of the ITN News at Ten, a programme which would go on to define a generation.

Launching in 1967, he sat alongside Andrew Gardner to launch the first 30 minute news programme in the UK. Prior to this and continuing, he worked at ITN covering a number of general elections, including the two elections of 1974 on the BBC.

He was also editor of the Daily Express newspaper and The Economist. After leaving the latter he returned to ITN in 1976, becoming one of the main presenters for the new ITN News at 5.45 and then back to what made him, News at Ten.

Burnet presented News at Ten until his retirement in 1991. The last programme he presented alongside Alastair Stewart, who today paid tribute to an icon of broadcasting. “Professionally, I owe Alastair everything. He was my friend and mentor – he was everything I ever aspired to be.”, said Stewart on his ITV News blog.

His work at ITN also included the coverage the royal wedding of Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer and the attempted assassination of US President Ronald Reagan.

Colleagues of past and present have also been paying tribute today. Current News at Ten co-anchor Mark Austin said: “Sir Alastair Burnet was News at Ten, is News at Ten and shall always be News at Ten.”

BBC News at Ten presenter Huw Edwards has spoke about what Burnet bought to ITN. “He represented the best traditions of ITN and his period at the helm of News at Ten was without doubt the best in the programme’s distinguished history.”

The BBC has tweeted to say they will be replaying the February 1974 general election on 1 September on BBC Parliament as way of tribute.

ITN chief executive John Hardie said: “He defined newscasting for a generation and his influence is still clearly evident today.”

In a statement his family said he died at a nursing home where he was being cared for following a number of strokes.


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