‘Outstanding’ BBC journo Brian Hanrahan dies at 61

BBC journalist Brian Hanrahan, best known for his coverage of the Falklands War, has died at the age of 61.

He famously told the nation that he watched Harrier jets take off during the conflict and ‘counted them all out, and I counted them all back’.

The often-quoted line was a way of getting around reporting restrictions imposed by the Ministry of Defence that prevented details of operations being reported.

BBC director general Mark Thompson said: “Brian was a journalist of unimpeachable integrity and outstanding judgment, but his personal kindness and humanity also came through. That is why audiences and everyone who knew him here will miss him very much.”

He was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year and his condition deteriorated after he was admitted to hospital with an infection 10 days ago.

Hanrahan spent almost 30 years with the BBC reporting from all over the world. He covered stories including the assassination of Indira Gandhi in India, the rise of Mikhail Gorbachev in the Soviet Union, the Tiananmen Square massacre and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Mark Byford, deputy director general and head of journalism, said he was one of the ‘BBC’s greatest journalists’.

He said: “His work covering the Falklands War produced some of the most memorable war reporting of the last 50 years. His great craft of using words sparingly, but powerfully is a lasting memory for me.”

BBC World News editor Jon Williams paid tribute to the man he described as ‘a big character’.