Former News At Ten presenter Sir Alastair Burnet, who has died aged 84, was hailed by colleagues as ‘the best we’ll ever have’.

The broadcaster – also a distinguished reporter, national newspaper editor and a voice of state occasions – died following a series of strokes.

Sir Alastair anchored numerous elections, the first Moon landing and the wedding of the Prince and Princess of Wales, as well as becoming known for his royal documentaries.

Friend and broadcaster Andrew Neil called him ‘one of the greatest journalists of his generation’.

And fellow ITN presenter Alastair Stewart, to whom he had been a mentor, said: “He was everything I ever aspired to be. Intellectually a giant, and yet the kindest and most generous of men.”

He added: “He was simply the best we ever had – the best we’ll ever have.”

Although best remembered for his years working as a newscaster and reporter for ITN, he also spent some time at the BBC, as well as editing the Daily Express. And he somehow found time to edit The Economist in tandem with his TV career.

Sir Alastair famously found himself mocked by satirical series Spitting Image, due to his sympathetic documentary portraits of the Royals. And his puppet character featured in a spoof sketch about the deaths of prominent figures, declaring: “Tonight’s main headline – someone famous has died.”

A statement on behalf of Sir Alastair’s family said: “He passed away peacefully in the middle of the night at the Beatrice Place Nursing Home in Kensington, where he was being cared for after suffering several strokes.”

A memorial event is to be planned following a private funeral.