Cliff Michelmore – the man who “recast the role of the TV presenter at the BBC” – dies aged 96

Director-general Tony Hall paid tribute to the host of current affairs show Tonight and BBC1's Holiday programme, calling Michelmore "natural, warm, engaging – utterly himself"

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Long-serving and well-loved BBC TV and radio presenter Cliff Michelmore has died in hospital aged 96.

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During a career spanning 60 years, Michelmore was a recognisable face to several generations. Between 1957 and 1965 he presented week-nightly current affairs show Tonight, on which he coined the sign-off  “The next Tonight will be tomorrow night – goodnight,” and once interviewed a yet-to-be-famous David Bowie.

In the 80s, viewers knew him for BBC1’s Holiday programme.

Michelmore’s calm and collected style saw him anchor major live events for the BBC, including the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963 – news of which he received during a live broadcast – the 1966 Aberfan tragedy in which a school was engulfed when a colliery slag tip collapsed, the 1966 and 1970 General Elections and the return of the damaged Apollo 13 spacecraft to earth.

Paying tribute to Michelmore, BBC director-general Tony Hall said: “It’s impossible to overestimate just how important a national figure he was at a time when there were just two channels.

“I still remember as a boy watching Cliff Michelmore presenting Tonight live five times a week in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

“He was natural, warm, engaging – he was utterly himself and showed he was one of us. His personal approach recast the role of the TV presenter at the BBC and he was loved by audiences for it.”

Michelmore was married to fellow presenter Jean Metcalfe, who died in 2000. The pair met when they hosted Forces radio show Two-Way Family Favourites.

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Michelmore’s son Guy told the BBC his father had passed away at Petersfield Hospital in Hampshire.