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George Alagiah says he's 'knackered' presenting the news while living with cancer

Claire Reid

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George Alagiah says he's 'knackered' presenting the news while living with cancer

BBC News presenter George Alagiah has opened up about working following his cancer diagnosis, revealing that it can leave him ‘knackered physically’. 

The 66-year-old broadcaster was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2014 and has now confirmed he has a tumour near his spine. 

In 2017 he announced that the cancer had returned after more than a year of believing he was clear of it and in 2020 he revealed it had spread to his lungs.  

He is currently undergoing gruelling chemotherapy sessions which leave him feeling drained, but despite the pain George says his job helps give him a boost mentally. 

Credit: Sally Anderson / Alamy Stock Photo
Credit: Sally Anderson / Alamy Stock Photo

In an interview with the Telegraph, George said: “I’ve spent a lot of the last 18 months in extreme pain.

“There have been times when even lying down makes it worse.”

He went on: “Going into the newsroom doesn’t kill any cancer cells, that’s for sure. By the time I walk out of that newsroom at seven o’clock in the evening, having been there since the morning, I am absolutely knackered physically, but mentally I am rejuvenated.

"I’ve been with people who treat me as they always did, who don’t patronise me, and it is a tremendous fillip.

“By the time I walk out of that newsroom at seven o’clock in the evening, having been there since the morning, I am absolutely knackered physically – but mentally I am rejuvenated.”

When asked how he copes if a sudden bout of pain comes on while working in live TV, he said: “It is incredible what adrenalin will do. It is invented by nature to get you through anything.”

Credit: BBC
Credit: BBC

George has spent most of the last 14 years on chemotherapy - aside from a 15-month break when the cancer appeared to have gone - undergoing more than 100 sessions since his initial diagnosis. He said at times he was lucky to get just four hours sleep a night due to the treatment. 

Now he has low doses for three quarters of the year, and higher doses for the other quarter. 

Talking about the toll the chemotherapy has taken on him, George admitted that there are some days he wakes up ‘feeling s**t’.

“It happens quite regularly when you are on chemo. I can suddenly have an energy collapse,” he told the publication. “But I’ve got amazing colleagues at the BBC who step in to my place on the rota.”

Featured Image Credit: BBC/Euan Cherry/Alamy Stock Photo

Topics: TV and Film, UK News, Cancer

Claire Reid
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