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Peter Spencer - Questions and Answers

NAME:
Peter Spencer.

AGE:
56.

WHERE ARE YOU FROM:
East of Mayfair. Well Essex actually. Though I’m a quarter Irish and a quarter French. So I don’t always wear white shoes.

HOW DID I GET STARTED IN BROADCASTING:
By getting made redundant. By the Daily Express (bizarrely, Scottish edition, London office). Then followed two years as a tabloid tart. Then LBC proposed marriage (ie a staff job). I accepted.

WHEN WAS THAT:
When Fleet Street really was Fleet Street. A privilege to have been there. Like seeing the North West frontier before the cavalry arrived.

WHY NEWS BROADCASTING:
Lack of imagination and limited attention span. It never occurred to me there was anything but news (except satire, also news but more truthful). And after print, broadcasting had the charm of novelty.

WHERE ELSE WOULD VIEWERS HAVE SEEN OR HEARD YOU BEFORE:
After LBC/IRN I joined BSB as producer of a political satire show. The ratings show it would have saved money to sell the satellite and bike videos to each viewer.
More recently and to a wider audience I featured in the ITV documentary The campest men in Britain.

WHAT IS YOUR BEST ON-AIR MOMENT:
The Foreign Secretary had just given an inadequate doorstep interview in Downing Street. I grumbled loudly at his retreating back it was A load of total B****CKS-AWFUL SH*TE. Unnoticed by me the microphone of another television outlet was close by, still open, and broadcasting live. If nothing else, my most candid piece of political reportage.

WHAT IS YOUR WORST ON AIR MOMENT:
My worst on air moment lasted eight days. Down for a World Economic Summit in Canada, I parked my car (a rotting relic of a 2 CV) at Heathrow Airport’s short term car park. During every live hit my mind was on how good I am at economics. The parking bill was approximately twice the value of the car.

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO DO BEFORE YOUR CAREER ENDS:
The death of journalists is not, as conventionally supposed, alchohol, but self importance. On that basis I should at least survive my career. If I don’t drink too much.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME:
I gratify lifelong thwarted ambition/fantasies. Savouring theatre and playing guitar. Best performances at my beachside retreat in Cornwall. Neither Peter O’Toole nor Jimmy Hendrix. But the gulls are a great audience. So I feed them. They like that.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO ANYONE THAT WOULD LIKE TO GET INTO THE BROADCASTING WORLD:
There are too many clever young media graduates around who can do everything except what we do. Ie write things. Take a degree in English, read as much as you can, and look out for my favourite quotation: The life of a journalist is nasty, brutish, and short.

A big thanks to Peter for taking part.

Updated: Thursday 21 May 2009

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