BBC News anchor George Alagiah returned to the air last night for the first time in more than a year, following a battle with cancer.Sporting a new beard, the 63-year-old fronted the News at Six programme after earlier revealing his illness was now in “a holding pattern”.He was first diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2014 and has since made intermittent returns to the broadcaster, where he has worked since 1989.Fellow presenter Sophie Raworth confirmed the comeback yesterday morning by posting a picture on Twitter of Alagiah smiling and suited in the newsroom. Her post prompted him to quip in response: “There goes my hope of slipping back into the studio unnoticed!”He added: “Thanks to all for good wishes. We’ve got the cancer in a holding pattern so it’s back to work with colleagues I respect and the viewers who make it worthwhile.” Politicians and BBC personalities were among those to welcome news of Alagiah’s return, including Labour MP David Lammy, who hailed him as “one of the best in the business”.Alagiah was told that his stage four bowel cancer had returned just before Christmas 2017, leading him to take further time away from the screen to seek treatment. @sophieraworth there goes my hopes of slipping back into the studio unnoticed! Thanks to all for good wishes. We’ve got the cancer in a holding pattern so it’s back to work with colleagues I respect and the viewers who make it worthwhile. #BBCNewsSix— George Alagiah (@BBCAlagiah) January 23, 2019 Back with a beard…1st time on air since December 2017. Join @BBCAlagiah on @BBCOne for tonight’s #BBCNewsSix pic.twitter.com/3TmuCdQjqE— sophieraworth (@sophieraworth) January 23, 2019 After the initial diagnosis in 2014, the disease spread to his liver and lymph nodes, but the presenter returned to work a year later after undergoing several rounds of chemotherapy and three major operations, one of which included the removal of most of his liver. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.