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Tributes to BBC Radio Manchester’s Jonathan Ali


Jonathan Ali, a reporter on BBC Radio Manchester for 26 years has died at Manchester’s Christie Hospital.

Last year the 50-year-old was named as one of the most respected journalists in the country.

He had been ill with a rare type of bone and tissue cancer, called Ewing Sarcoma, but had continued to work throughout his treatment.

Indeed, when a fire broke out at The Christie in April 2017, while he was being treated there, he was first on the scene to report live into BBC Radio and Television.

He said at the time:

“I was having a cup of tea and a piece of cake, which is what you do at the Maggie’s Centre (where he was having chemotherapy), when I saw thick, black smoke. So I got up and went to see what was happening. It was pretty clear there was a huge fire at the hospital.

“From there, much to my relief, all my old journalist skills snapped back and I got on with reporting it. It was a huge relief to realise I could still do it.”

Born and bred in Hawkshaw, near Bury, his first brush with broadcasting was when he appeared on ITV’s Blockbusters. After attending Oxford University, he joined BBC Radio Leicester, before moving to BBC GMR in 1993.

He spent a number of years as a community reporter in Rochdale, Bolton and Bury.  

“Jonathan, or Jali as everyone called him, was an outstanding journalist; absolutely passionate about local broadcasting and Greater Manchester. His journalism changed things and had a real impact on people,” said Kate Squire, Managing Editor of BBC Radio Manchester.

“He was a hard-working, enthusiastic and intelligent journalist and a kind, loving and funny friend. Our hearts are so heavy. We will miss him terribly and our thoughts are with his family.” 

Jonathan was also passionate about local history and wrote a book about soldiers from Bury, who fought and died during the First World War.

Director, Danny Boyle credited him for the research he did on the subject, when he created his own memorial to the war.


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