Tuesday, 26 February 2013

A tribute to Peter Spencer

You'll know Peter Spencer - he's the suave, quietly spoken chap on Sky News reporting from Westminster when you go to bed on a Saturday night and again as you rise on a Sunday morning. Never flustered, with a calmness which allows his tremendous use of the English language to shine, he updates the world on the latest goings on in British politics as our political week begins once again.

Sadly his colleague Nial Paterson Tweeted earlier that Peter is to retire. This isn't sad for Peter I hope as he deserves to enjoy his weekends - working weekends in Westminster can be an lonely, thankless task - but it is sad for all of us.

There are still gentlemen and women in journalism; those who are willing to discuss not dictate, build bridges not bully. They do unfortunately seem to get fewer every year. A dozen or so years ago, when I began working in political communication, there were still some old-school giants prowling the Burma Road (as the corridor in the Parliamentary Press Gallery is known) such as George Jones of the Daily Telegraph, David Hughes of the Daily Mail, Trevor Kavanagh of The Sun. As journalism as a trade has changed through increased speed, additional pressures on journalists and changes in culture so those plying the trade have changed too.

Beyond politics - indeed beyond the UK too, this isn't an attack on the current crop of Lobby journalists - it is rare to come across journalists with an openness and fairness still seen with the way Peter Spencer went about his work.  

I have some very warm memories of Peter when he showed immense kindness to me that I will never forget. He didn't need to, his act, though a simple one, didn't make his job of delivering his political two-ways easier, but is a measure of the man that he wanted to.

My favourite moment from Peter was while he was conducting a political two-way a few years ago. As he took the bleary-eyed viewers through the latest in Westminster his phone began to ring. His ring tone? Befitting of a man who drove a pink BMW with the number plate BARBIE it was Aqua's number one "I'm a Barbie Girl in a Barbie World". Ever the professional, as the tune grew louder, he continued with his two-way while reaching into his pocket and calmly turning his phone to silent. All done with a twinkle in his eye.

After well over 30 years in Fleet Street and on television Peter Spencer is retiring and will be sorely missed.   

1 comment:

  1. Peter was a colleague of mine at LBC/IRN in the 80s. A pleasure to work with.


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