BBC Radio 5 Live's Rugby Union commentator Alastair Hignell is set to retire on May 31st, following the Guinness Premiership final at Twickenham, RadioToday.co.uk can reveal.
Alastair has worked for the BBC for 17 years and for Radio 5 live for 12, during which time has covered every major rugby union event, both home and international.
In 1999 Alastair was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and is an ardent campaigner raising awareness of the illness.
Alastair says “I’ve been lucky enough to have had one of the best jobs in broadcasting. I have enjoyed just about every moment of my time with 5 Live and will always treasure great memories of some outstanding colleagues and some outstanding experiences. But the MS is starting to make it difficult for me to do the job as well as I would like and it deserves. I am grateful to the BBC for allowing me to bow out in this way- on a big occasion at the climax of a season.”
Ian Robertson, BBC Rugby Correspondent and commentator says “It's hard to believe it's almost a quarter of a century since Higgy joined BBC Radio Sport as part of the rugby team. He had a rich sporting pedigree and the transition from sporting star to outstanding professional broadcaster was seamless and instant. He has delivered marvellous commentaries on all the great internationals throughout all those years and has been the consummate broadcaster with a wonderful turn of phrase, an infectious sense of humour and a passion for rugby which shines through every commentary. His huge popularity is legendary. The England players have a deep admiration and respect for him, especially in recent years as he has battled Multiple Sclerosis, and he will be hugely missed on the rugby circuit. There will be a lot of commentary boxes round the world that will feel a little empty without the voice and personality of Higgy in the future.”
Gordon Turnbull, BBC Head of Radio Sport says “'Alastair has been an outstanding broadcaster on BBC radio throughout his career – and through his commentary partnership with Ian Robertson, has made a tremendous contribution to our radio rugby coverage. He has been passionate about his sport and how we cover it – and that is obvious in the way our rugby output is valued both within the game and with our audiences. Alastair has played a crucial part in winning that respect over the years. Above all, he has been a superb ambassador for the BBC and for Radio Sport in particular.'”