Sir James William Alexander Burnet (1928-2012) was born in Sheffield, the son of a Scottish engineer.
He was educated at the Leys School, Cambridge, and at Worcester College, Oxford, where he read history.
To many of a generation he was simply Alastair Burnet, the suave ITV news reader once described as “the booster rocket that put ITN into orbit.”
He joined ITN in 1963 as its political editor, but left after two years to become editor of The Economist and later the Daily Express.
On July 3 1967, with Andrew Gardiner sitting beside him, he launched the first ‘News at Ten’ bulletin with the words “Good evening. The railway freight strike has been called off.”
It was the beginning of a television institution.
He retired in 1991, disappeared from our screens, and died seven years ago at a nursing home in Kensington.