Manchester

'Outstanding' BBC radio broadcaster Jonathan Ali dies aged 50

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Media captionRemembering the "outstanding" BBC radio broadcaster Jonathan Ali

"Outstanding" and "passionate" BBC radio broadcaster and author Jonathan Ali has died at the age of 50.

Ali, who was an authority on World War One, spent more than 25 years reporting for the corporation, mostly with BBC Radio Manchester.

Major stories he covered included investigations into child sexual abuse in Rochdale, and the aftermath of the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing.

He died at the city's Christie Hospital on Thursday.

Image caption Ali reported on a fire at Christie Hospital while receiving treatment there

Ali was undergoing treatment for cancer when a fire broke out at the hospital in 2017, and voluntarily reported live from the scene for BBC radio and television.

BBC Radio Manchester's managing editor Kate Squire said he was "an outstanding journalist", who was "absolutely passionate about local broadcasting and Greater Manchester" and whose reporting "changed things and had a real impact on people".

"He was hard-working, enthusiastic and intelligent and a kind, loving and funny friend," she said.

"We will miss him terribly and our thoughts are with his family."

Tributes have been paid on social media to Ali, including messages from Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, BBC Breakfast presenter Dan Walker and Greater Manchester Police.

Ali attended Bury Grammar School and his teenage years included an appearance on the ITV game show Blockbusters.

He studied at Oxford University and joined the BBC as a reporter, initially at BBC Radio Leicester before moving to what is now BBC Radio Manchester in 1993.

Image caption Jonathan Ali (left) worked with Sophie Raworth and Dan Snow on coverage of the WW1 centenary

He reported on many of Greater Manchester's biggest stories over the last three decades, including the IRA bombing of 1996, Manchester United's famous 1999 treble, the Oldham race riots in 2001 and the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester.

His keen interest in World War One saw him write a book about the soldiers from his home village of Hawkshaw near Bury, and led him to be involved in the BBC's coverage of the conflict's centenary and work with Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle on his Pages of the Sea beach portraits.

'He knew everyone' - Richard Stead, BBC Radio Manchester

Jonathan - or Jali to everyone who knew him - was one of those larger-than-life characters who knew everyone.

His engaging demeanour meant local councillors and MPs would call him first if they had a story, while his encyclopaedic knowledge of World War One saw him join the BBC's coverage of the centenary.

But if there was one story that really made a difference, it was his reporting on child sexual abuse.

He headed investigations into grooming gangs in Rochdale and into abuse at two children's homes, work which led to the poet Lemn Sissay receiving an apology from Wigan Council for the abuse he had suffered as a child.

That was journalism at its best.

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