Peter Sissons

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Peter Sissons
Born Peter George Sissons
(1942-07-17) 17 July 1942 (age 71)
Liverpool, Lancashire, England, UK
Occupation Broadcast journalist
Notable credit(s) ITV News (ITN)
Channel 4 News
Question Time
BBC News
Spouse(s) Sylvia (m. 1965)
Children 3

Peter George Sissons (born 17 July 1942) is a broadcast journalist in the United Kingdom. He was the presenter of the BBC Nine O'Clock News and the BBC News at Ten between 1993 and 2003, and earlier a newscaster for ITN, providing bulletins on ITV and Channel 4. He is also a former presenter of the BBC's Question Time programme. He retired from the BBC in 2009.[1]


Originally from Liverpool, Lancashire, Peter Sissons attended the Dovedale Junior School with John Lennon and Jimmy Tarbuck and after the 11+ to the Liverpool Institute for Boys from 1953 to 1961 with Bill Kenwright, Stephen Norris, George Harrison and Paul McCartney. He later studied at University College, Oxford where he was Treasurer of the University College Players.


After many years as a journalist, during which time he was wounded by gunfire while covering the Biafran War,[2] his first period as a newsreader came in 1976 when he began anchoring ITN's News at One bulletins alternately with Leonard Parkin. He then launched Channel Four News in 1982 before leaving for the BBC in 1989.

In June 1989, Sissons took over from Sir Robin Day as the presenter of Question Time. He continued until December 1993, when he was followed by David Dimbleby. In the same year he received a death threat, after his interview of an Iranian representative as part of the reaction surrounding the publication of The Satanic Verses, stating that the fatwa covered him as well.[3] He co-presented BBC's 1992 General Election Night coverage with David Dimbleby and Peter Snow. Previously he had been a co-presenter on ITN's election night programmes in 1983 (with Sir Alastair Burnet and Martyn Lewis) and in 1987 (with Burnet and Alastair Stewart).

He has worked for ITN, Channel 4 News and BBC News, where he hosted the BBC Nine O'Clock News and the Ten O'Clock News. He was dropped from this position in January 2003.[4] Sissons reportedly accused the BBC of ageism in response to its decision to move him from the prime slot.[5]

In 2002, Sissons announced the death of the Queen Mother on the BBC. This broadcast created a major controversy, as he wore a burgundy tie as opposed to a black one, deemed more appropriate by tradition for such news.[6] Sissons has since publicly defended his actions.[7] Also during the broadcast he carried out a live on air interview with the Hon. Margaret Rhodes, the Queen Mother's niece, in which he pressed her for intimate details of the final moments of the death to the point of her breaking off the interview. This interview caused a media furore at the time, consternation in the Royal Family's circle and led the Prince of Wales to choose ITN to record his personal televisual appreciation of his grandmother rather than the BBC which would have been the expected and traditional option. Sissons' reputation as a broadcaster was damaged by the affair. He subsequently presented weekend afternoons on BBC News, the corporation's 24-hour rolling news channel. Sissons has also presented News 24 Sunday, the replacement for Andrew Marr's BBC One programme The Andrew Marr Show when it is off air during the summer. He also occasionally presented weekend bulletins on BBC One. On 12 June 2009, Sissons announced his intention to retire in the summer in order to write his memoirs.[8]


In 2011, Sissons published When One Door Closes (from which an extract was reproduced for Mail Online), in which he claimed that BBC News had a bias towards the political Left and complained that The Guardian was the first newspaper that was turned to for a lead on stories.[9]

Personal life[edit]

Sissons is also a Liverpool John Moores University Honorary Fellow and delivered a lecture on 19 June 2008 speaking about the city of Liverpool.[10]

His daughter is the actress Kate Sissons. Sissons lives in Sevenoaks, Kent, with his wife Sylvia,[11] and also has a second home on the island of Barbados.


  1. ^ Paul Revoir "Peter Sissons departs with a swipe at BBC as he finishes 45-year career", Daily Mail, 13 June 2009
  2. ^ "BFI Screenonline: Sissons, Peter (1942-) Biography". Retrieved 9 February 2011. 
  3. ^ The Satanic Verses Affair, BBC, 7 March 2009
  4. ^ Peter Sissons "Left-wing bias? It's written through the BBC's very DNA, says Peter Sissons: In Thrall to the Holy Grail of 'Yoof'", Daily Mail, 22 January 2011
  5. ^ Andrew Clennell (2002-09-01). "Peter Sissons is moved from BBC's 10 o'clock slot". The Independent. Retrieved 2006-12-09. 
  6. ^ "Sissons hits back at critics". BBC. 2002-04-03. Retrieved 2006-12-09. 
  7. ^ David Sapsted and Matt Born (2002-04-03). "Sissons defends corporation's coverage and lack of a black tie". Telegraph. Retrieved 2008-12-05. 
  8. ^ "Newsreader Sissons to leave BBC", BBC News, 12 June 2009
  9. ^ "Left-wing bias? It's written through the BBC's very DNA, says Peter Sissons". Mail Online. 22 January 2011. Retrieved 6 February 2011. 
  10. ^ News Update
  11. ^ "How BBC newsreader took on the traffic wardens - and won". Sevenoaks Chronicle. 22 October 2013. 

Preceded by
Sir Robin Day
Regular Host of Question Time
Succeeded by
David Dimbleby