Veteran newsreader Peter Sissons dies aged 77

Former BBC and ITN newsreader Peter Sissons has died at the age of 77.

Sissons, whose broadcasting career spanned more than 40 years, died on Tuesday while surrounded by family, his agent said in a statement.

"We are sad to announce that Peter Sissons, the former presenter on ITN, Channel 4 and the BBC, died peacefully last night in Maidstone Hospital, Kent.

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PA NEWS PHOTO 28/4/98 NEWSREADERS ALISTAIR STEWART (LEFT), PETER SISSONS AND WEATHER FORECASTER SIAN LLOYD (CENTRE) AT THE "TIE WEARERS OF THE YEAR AWARDS" AT THE HYATT CARLTON HOTEL, LONDON
Peter Sissons and wife Sylvia attending the Tric Awards held at the Grosvenor House Hotel London.
Peter Sissons attends the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show, at Hampton Court, Teddington - London
Peter Sissons and Fiona Bruce with her award for best TV Newscaster/Reporter, during the Television and Radio Industries Club (TRIC) Awards, at Grosvenor House, central London, Tuesday 7 March 2006. The awards honour performers and programmes and are voted for by radio and television personnel. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Photo credit should read: Steve Parsons/PA
BBC newsreader Peter Sissons (left) and Liverpool Football manager Gerard Houllier with their honorary Doctor of Laws from Liverpool University.
Newscaster Mary Nightingale receives her Newscaster/reporter of the year award from newsreader Peter Sissons during the 2002 TRIC (Television & Radio Industries Club) Awards at the Le Meridien Grosvenor House Hotel in London.
The ITN team for the General Election results programme, "The Nation Decides" Front row, from left - Sue Tinson, producer and Diana Edwards-Jones who directs ITN operations. Back row, from left - Presenters Peter Sissons, Alastair Burnet and Martyn Lewis.
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - SEPTEMBER 22: Shirley Anne Field, Peter Sissons and Sylvia Sissons attend the press night performance of "Evita" at the Dominion Theatre on September 22, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Getty Images)
Peter Sissons and Trevor MacDonald attend Chelsea Flower Show at The Royal Hospital Chelsea. (Photo by rune hellestad/Corbis via Getty Images)
Peter Sissons and Andrew Neil attend the launch party of Peter Sissons' his book 'When One Door Closes' on February 1, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Danny Martindale/WireImage)
Peter Sissons attends the launch party of his book 'When One Door Closes' on February 1, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Danny Martindale/WireImage)
LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 01: Anna Ford gets a book signed by Peter Sissons at the launch party of Peter Sissons' his book 'When One Door Closes' on February 1, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Danny Martindale/WireImage)
LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 01: (L-R) Andrew Neil and Peter Sissons (C) attend the launch party of Peter Sissons' his book 'When One Door Closes' on February 1, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Danny Martindale/WireImage)
(Back row, left to right) Paul Leighton, Peter Sissons, professor Phil Scratton, Bill Kirkup, (front) Christine Gifford, the Bishop of Liverpool Rt Reverend James Jones and Katy Jones, members of the Hillsborough Independent Panel, the group set up to study previously secret documents relating to the Hillsborough tragedy, as they meet for the first time in Liverpool. (Photo by Peter Byrne/PA Images via Getty Images)
LONDON - MAY 01: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK TABLOID NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 48 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Peter Sissons (L) with Mary and Lord Jeffrey Archer attend the after party following the opening night of 'The Letter', at the Waldorf Hotel on May 1, 2007 in London, England. (Photo by Dave M. Benett/Getty Images)
WINDSOR, ENGLAND - JULY 25: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK TABLOID NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 48 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) TV News Readers Michael Buerk, Peter Sissons and Nicholas Owen attend the biggest European polo tournament at Cartier International Day held at Guards Polo Club, Windsor Great Park on July 25, 2004 in Windsor, England. England took on a visiting squad from Chile for the Coronation Cup. (Photo by Dave Benett/Getty Images)
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"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."

Sissons was a familiar face for decades as a newsreader, joining ITN in 1964 after graduating from Oxford University.

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 several years later when he began presenting ITN's News At One.

Sissons joined the BBC in 1989 as presenter of Question Time, 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 retired from broadcasting in 2009 and was considered at the time to be one of the UK's longest-serving news presenters.

Born in Liverpool, growing up he attended Dovedale Junior School, which boasts John Lennon and Jimmy Tarbuck among its alumni.

He later attended the Liverpool Institute for Boys, where he met another Beatle, George Harrison, whom he would go on to become friends with.

Many years later, in a 2001 interview with the BBC he shared anecdotes from his friendship with Harrison.

Recounting an incident from his time at ITN, he told the BBC: "I got a phone call on the news desk and the receptionist said 'George Harrison is here to see you'. I went down to reception and there was George in reception with most of the Hare Krishna people from Oxford Street."

Following Harrison's death he said the Beatle was "a gentleman and a great musician".

Before his broadcasting career took off, Sissons worked as a bus conductor in Liverpool.

In his memoirs titled, When One Door Closes, he recounts meeting his future wife, Sylvia, at St Peter's Church in Woolton, Liverpool and the pair married in 1965.

They went on to have three children – Michael, Jonathan and Kate – whom he says, in the preface of his book, "could always be relied upon to put my ups and downs into perspective with humour and loving support".

The BBC's director-general, Tony Hall, was among the people from the broadcasting world paying tribute to the news anchor.

Front row, from left - Sue Tinson and Diana Edwards-Jones and back row, from left - Peter Sissons, Alastair Burnet and Martyn Lewis
A PA archive photo showing the The ITN team for the General Election results programme, "The Nation Decides". Front row, from left – Sue Tinson and Diana Edwards-Jones and back row, from left – Peter Sissons, Alastair Burnet and Martyn Lewis (ITN)

Lord Hall said: "Peter Sissons was one of the great television figures of his time – as an interviewer, presenter and world-class journalist.

"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. He will be missed by his many friends and colleagues, and our thoughts are with his family."

Good Morning Britain presenter and journalist Piers Morgan said in a tweet that Sissons was "an excellent journalist & TV newsreader, and splendidly combative & amusing man".

James Mates, Europe editor for ITV News, tweeted: "I met Peter Sissons on my first day as an ITN trainee. He said: 'You're going to be taught all sorts of stuff about pictures and cameras and sound and editing. But there's only one thing that matters – the words'. He was right. Fine man, fine journalist."

BBC journalist Simon McCoy also paid tribute to Sissons, writing on Twitter: "Very sorry to hear of the death of former colleague Peter Sissons. A great journalist and a fine presenter at ITN and the BBC. #RIP"

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