Blue Peter presenter Max Stahl dies aged 66 after battling cancer

Blue Peter presenter Max Stahl has died at the age of 66.

The actor and broadcaster, who was known to millions of children for hosting the beloved series in the late 1970s, passed away in Australia after a lengthy battle with cancer.

Tributes soon poured in for Max, who after leaving Blue Peter went onto win awards for his coverage of global news events, including the massacre of 271 protestors in East Timor in 1991.

RIP: Blue Peter presenter Max Stahl has died at the age of 66. The actor and broadcaster hosted the children's TV favourite from 1978 to 1980

RIP: Blue Peter presenter Max Stahl has died at the age of 66. The actor and broadcaster hosted the children's TV favourite from 1978 to 1980

RIP: Blue Peter presenter Max Stahl has died at the age of 66. The actor and broadcaster hosted the children’s TV favourite from 1978 to 1980

Max’s death was announced by his wife Ingrid, who wrote: ‘The king is dead. With great sadness, I write to inform you that Max passed away this morning.’

Max was known as Christopher Wenner during his time on Blue Peter, and fronted the show from 1978 to 1980 alongside stars including Lesley Judd, Simon Groom and Tina Heath.

He started his career as an actor and writer before delving into children’s TV with the popular show, but left the show after bosses opted against renewing his contract.

After departing the show the father-of-four starred in the 1984 Doctor Who serial The Awakening and returned to Blue Peter on two occasions in 1983 and 1998.

Tragic news: The actor and broadcaster was known to millions of children for hosting the beloved series in the 1970s before becoming an acclaimed war journalist (pictured in 2016)

Tragic news: The actor and broadcaster was known to millions of children for hosting the beloved series in the 1970s before becoming an acclaimed war journalist (pictured in 2016)

Tragic news: The actor and broadcaster was known to millions of children for hosting the beloved series in the 1970s before becoming an acclaimed war journalist (pictured in 2016)

Max eventually took on work behind the camera, and became a war correspondant covering the Lebanon Civil war from Beirut in the 1980s, before covering the death of more than 200 protestors in East Timor. 

The tragedy saw 200 Indonesian soldiers open fire on a crowd of over 2,000 peaceful protestors, as they chanted for their country’s independance. 

Detailing the incident in 2016, Max told the BBC: ‘I was just getting my camera ready when there was a wall of sound, at least 10 seconds of uninterrupted gunfire. 

‘The soldiers who arrived fired point blank into a crowd of a couple of thousand young people.’

‘I could easily see that it was only a matter of time before they came to me, and at that point I thought, well, I should move away from here.’

In statements to the Lusa news agency, former President José Ramos-Horta described Max Stahl’s death as a ‘great loss’ to Timor-Leste and the world. He said it would cause ‘deep consternation and pain’ to the Timorese people.

‘Someone like Max, with a big heart, with a great dedication and love for East Timor … [has been] taken to another world,’ he told Lusa.

East Timor’s former President Xanana Gusmão shared a letter of condolence with Max’s wife Ingrid after his death was announced.

Death news: Max passed away in Brisbane Australia after a lengthy battle  with throat cancer. He first received treatment for the disease in 2012

Death news: Max passed away in Brisbane Australia after a lengthy battle  with throat cancer. He first received treatment for the disease in 2012

Death news: Max passed away in Brisbane Australia after a lengthy battle  with throat cancer. He first received treatment for the disease in 2012 

The letter, which was shared on Xanana’s Facebook, said: ‘I will also dearly miss Max who I admired so much and who was an inspiration for me during some of the hardest times in our struggle. Max will always be remembered and his work will become a legacy of our country.’

In 2000, under his name Max Stahl, he won the Rory Peck Award for Hard News, and he was known as one of the first Western journalists to recognise the scope of tensions in the Russian republic of Chechnya.

Max’s career on and off screen spanned two decades, and he worked for an array of TV channels in the US, Australia, and England.

Among those paying tribute was journalist Sophie McNeill, who tweeted: ‘Very sad to hear about the death of the legendary Max Stahl. 

‘There’s not many people you can point to and say their bravery help changed the course of a nation for the better, but Max is one of them. Vale Max, RIP. You were a legend.’

Tragedy: Tributes soon poured in for Max (pictured far left), who after leaving Blue Peter went onto win awards for his coverage of global news events, including the East Timor massacre

Tragedy: Tributes soon poured in for Max (pictured far left), who after leaving Blue Peter went onto win awards for his coverage of global news events, including the East Timor massacre

Tragedy: Tributes soon poured in for Max (pictured far left), who after leaving Blue Peter went onto win awards for his coverage of global news events, including the East Timor massacre

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