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Snow, Peter (1938-)

Presenter, Writer

Main image of Snow, Peter (1938-)

News presenter, diplomatic correspondent, anchorman, and BBC election coverage presenter, Peter Snow has been at the centre of TV news activity for over 40 years. His bounding energy and schoolboyish enthusiasm, along with his towering 6ft 5in presence, have made him a television inquisitor of rare objectivity.

His career began in 1962 when he joined ITN as a scriptwriter and reporter. He was appointed diplomatic and defence correspondent in 1966, which involved front-line reporting from Southeast Asia, Nigeria, Cyprus and other international hot-spots, and covered live political programmes, such as elections, until 1979 when he left to join the BBC.

He became a founder of the current affairs series Newsnight (BBC, 1980- ), allowing him to develop both his inquisitorial skills and his screen persona. As an interviewer and analyst, experimenting with visual techniques that he had first explored during the Yom Kippur War (ITN, October 1973), he made presentation of complex information his speciality.

Seemingly part showman and part serious journalist, he became something of a cult figure when, in the 1992 election, he displayed his angular forward lurches and his revolving elbows with the BBC's political pendulum, the 'swingometer'. In 1997, he moved to Tomorrow's World (BBC, 1965-2003), retaining his explosive energy to present the weekly science programme, while continuing with BBC election night specials.

His manic energy was in evidence again when he presided over the BBC studio 'sand table' during the 1990-1991 Gulf War. A long-time model train enthusiast, he was in his element explaining strategies above a model desert with miniature tanks, aircraft and warships; his 'sandpit' technique often making military deliberations clearer to the viewer than any amount of computer graphics.

Together with his historian son Dan, he presented Battlefield Britain (BBC, 2004), a breathless series tracing eight great battles that shaped British history.

Tise Vahimagi

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Presenter, Interviewer, Reporter