20 April 1938 |
|Occupation||Television journalist, broadcaster and historian|
|Children||Three daughters and three sons|
Peter Snow, CBE (born 20 April 1938) is a British radio and television presenter and historian. He is the grandson of First World War general Sir Thomas D'Oyly Snow; cousin of Jon Snow, the presenter of Channel 4 News; nephew of schoolmaster and bishop George D'Oyly Snow; and brother-in-law of historian-writer Margaret MacMillan. He is also the father of fellow TV presenter Dan Snow.
Snow was born at 79 Harcort Street, Dublin, the son of Brigadier John FitzGerald Snow, CBE (died 1973), Somerset Light Infantry, and Peggy, younger daughter of Seton Pringle of 7 Fitzwilliam Place, Dublin, President of the Royal College of Surgeons, Ireland. He spent part of his early childhood in Benghazi, Libya, where his father was stationed. His father became deputy Fortress commander at Gibraltar in 1956.
Snow was educated at Wellington College, an independent school in the village of Crowthorne in Berkshire, and subsequently read Greats at Balliol College, Oxford University, where he was taught by R. M. Hare.
Life and career
Snow was a foreign correspondent, Defence and Diplomatic Correspondent, Diplomatic Editor and occasional newscaster for Britain's Independent Television News (ITN). He also appeared as an election analyst and co-presenter of ITN's General Election programmes throughout the late 1960s and 1970s. He joined the organisation in 1962. He gained a much higher profile after he was recruited in 1979 to be the main presenter of the new late evening BBC Two in-depth news programme Newsnight, which began almost a year later than planned, in January 1980. He left Newsnight in 1997 and presented Tomorrow's World (with Philippa Forrester) and the BBC Radio 4 quizzes Masterteam and Brain of Britain, amongst other projects. At the Royal Television Society in 1998 Snow won the Judges’ Award for services to broadcasting.
Snow has been involved as an election analyst and co-presenter in the live General Election results programmes for many years, first at ITN for five General Elections (1966 - 1979 inclusive) and later at the BBC for a further six (1983 - 2005 incl.). He presented in-depth statistical analyses of the election results at both ITN and the BBC, and at the BBC took over responsibility for this in 1983, following the death of Robert McKenzie, and became largely associated with McKenzie's famous BBC "Swingometer" when it was reinstated in 1992. He is known for his somewhat excitable style of presentation and ever-more elaborate props and graphics, though perhaps his most famous prop was the most basic - a sandpit which he used to illustrate the progress of the First Gulf War in early 1991. In 1994, he parodied his election role by providing analysis of the entries for the Eurovision Song Contest in the BBC's two contest preview shows ahead of the final in Dublin. His data analysis predicted that either France or the United Kingdom would win. They finished 7th and 10th respectively.
Snow survived a plane crash at Port Blakely, Bainbridge Island, Washington on 1 October 1999 when the De Havilland DHC-2 Mk1, registration number N9766Z in which he was a passenger hit trees during a film project for the BBC.
Along with his son, Dan, Snow presented a TV series Battlefield Britain, covering battles on British soil from Boudicca's struggle with the Romans to the Battle of Britain. Sometimes they point out the hardships that the much smaller soldiers must have faced (Peter is 6'5" and Dan is 6'6"). They reunited to host 20th Century Battlefields for BBC 2 and the Military Channel in 2006. This covers battles all around the world and is presented in similar fashion to the first Battlefield Britain. Peter and Dan Snow authored BBC books with the same titles to coicnide with the TV shows.
Peter and his son Dan also presented "Whose Britain is it anyway?", a survey of the ownership of Britain’s countryside, in 2006, "What makes Britain rich?" in early 2007 and "What Britain earns" in 2008. Peter and Dan have also made two history series for BBC Radio Four on the Black Prince, on Wellington’s Peninsular War, and the story of the Royal Flying Corps.
On 6 October 2005, the BBC announced that Snow would cease working on election broadcasts. Snow himself is quoted as saying "I shall be over 70 at the next general election and that, frankly, is a bit old to be dancing around waving it all about in front of huge graphic displays."
In January 2008, while presenting What Britain Earns, a BBC programme about salaries in the UK alongside his son, Snow admitted to earning around £100,000 a year.
In July 2009, to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the NASA moon landings, ITN produced five special 10-minute programmes for ITV1 titled Mission to the Moon - News from 1969. Snow participated in these programmes, acting as a correspondent alongside former ITN colleague John Suchet, the presenter of the specials. Snow also presented a special on BBC Radio 4 focusing on "Britain's First Day of War in 1939".
On the show Horrible Histories, there is a regular sketch in the section 'HHTV News' featuring Bob Hale, a character whose personality is similar to that of Peter Snow. He is known for his catchphrases 'But not for long!' and 'Or so we thought!' and usually concludes with a summary but then starts talking more.
Snow has written a number of books besides the ones written with his son, Dan. In 1970 he wrote “Leila’s Hijack War” with a journalist colleague, David Phillips, - a fast paper back telling the story of the international crisis that was caused by the Palestinian guerrillas who hijacked three airliners and blew them up on a desert airstrip. In 1972 he wrote "Hussein", the Biography of King Hussein of Jordan. In 2010 Snow published "To War with Wellingon", the story of the Iron Duke's campaigns from Portugal to Waterloo. In 2013, he published "When Britain burned the White House", the story of the 1814 British invasion of Washington.
Snow has been married twice, and has six children from three relationships. His eldest son, French citizen Matthieu, was born before his first marriage, although Snow was not aware of his existence until he was an adult. He married Alison Carter in 1964 and the couple had a son (Shane) and a daughter (Shuna). They divorced nine years later. In 1976 Snow married Ann MacMillan (of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation since 1981), with whom he has a son, (Dan, who is married to the daughter of the 6th Duke of Westminster), and two daughters, Rebecca and Kate. His wife and sister-in-law are great-granddaughters of former British Prime Minister David Lloyd George.
- Peter Snow, Dan Snow, Battlefield Britain: From Boudicca to the Battle of Britain, ISBN 9780563487890
- To War with Wellington: From the Peninsula to Waterloo, John Murray, 2010, ISBN 9781848541030
- Dan Snow; Peter Snow (31 May 2012). 20th Century Battlefields. Ebury Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4481-4059-6.
- When Britain Burned the White House: The 1814 Invasion of Washington. St. Martin's Press. 19 August 2014. pp. 141–. ISBN 978-1-4668-4894-8.
- "Peter Snow Biography". BBC Press Office. January 2006. Retrieved 2008-08-07.[dead link]
- January 2006, Biographies, Peter Snow, BBC Press Office, Accessed 5 March 2009
- "Peter Snow CBE". Peter Snow. Retrieved 2008-08-07.
- "Snow survives plane crash". BBC. 1999-10-03. Retrieved 2010-05-19.
- "Eight passionate amateurs bid to become BBC Two's Maestro" (Press release). BBC. 2008-05-23. Retrieved 2008-05-24.
- Independent article
- Independent bio
- International Who's Who 2004, page 1577
- FT article on Snow's personal life
- Lloyd George connection
- "Peter Snow shows John his train set". BBC News. 3 December 2010.
- "Celebrities' open letter to Scotland – full text and list of signatories | Politics". theguardian.com. 2014-08-07. Retrieved 2014-08-26.
- Peter Snow Official Website
- Peter Snow talks about his career to David Lawson
- BBC News Online - Peter Snow survives plane crash
- BBC News Online - Peter Snow hangs up swingometer
- BBC News Online (Peter Snow remembers...) - 
- RandomHouse article[dead link] - The World's Greatest 20th Century Battles
- Amazon Link for 20th Century Battlefields
- An Audience with Peter Snow was the highlight of the 2007 Ludlow Festival on 7 July.