Peter Anthony West (12 August 1920 – 2 September 2003) was a BBC presenter and sports commentator best known for his work on the corporation's cricket, tennis and rugby coverage as well as occasionally commentating on field hockey. Throughout his television career he remained freelance.
West was born in Cranbrook, Kent, an only child. His father, the son of a tobacconist, had made some money in the City after the First World War, and in 1924 set himself up as a poultry farmer in Cranbrook.
At school he was in the cricket XI for five years, and captain for the last three. He played rugby and hockey for the school for four years, captaining both games for his last two seasons, and, in rugby, leading an undefeated side. He ended his Cranbrook career as head of the school.
After school he went to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and was commissioned into the Duke of Wellington's (West Riding) Regiment, 33rd of Foot, which had the reputation of being the best rugby regiment in the Army. At Sandhurst he became an instructor but after being diagnosed with spondylitis was invalided out of the Army in 1944.
Post-war after a series of jobs, in 1952 he became a television commentator for Test cricket. He remained a cricket commentator, both on radio and television, until 1986. In addition, from 1955 to 1982 he played second fiddle to Dan Maskell in the BBC's television coverage of Wimbledon.
He reported the Olympics from 1948 to 1972, missing only 1952 and 1956.
West was the editor of Playfair Cricket Annual from its inception in 1948 until 1954. He joined the BBC in 1947 on the recommendation of C B Fry, following a chance meeting. He worked for the BBC for nearly 40 years until retiring in 1986.
He presented many BBC programmes that were not connected with sport, including the original version of Come Dancing (1957–72), What's My Line? and presented Get Ahead (1958–62), about business entrepreneurs. He was a cricket and rugby correspondent for both The Times and The Daily Telegraph.
During interviews with sportsmen, West was in the habit of using words that were unfamiliar to his interlocutors. On one occasion, speaking to Viv Richards, he said "Viv, your genius transcends parochialism." In 1984, after Jimmy White had won the Masters, he asked White to comment upon the "wonderful ethos which had permeated the final". When White said he was glad he won, West continued to press him about the ethos. Eventually, Terry Griffiths, White's opponent, stepped in and rescued him. When interviewing Arthur Ashe after his famously deft victory over the belligerent Jimmy Connors in the Wimbledon final of 1975, he congratulated Ashe on "manifesting a superb tactical acumen". "If you say so Peter!" rejoined a bemused Ashe.
He married Pauline Pike in 1946. They lived in Cheltenham and had a daughter, Jacqueline, and two sons, Simon and Stephen.
He died, aged 83, in Bath, Somerset.
- Flannelled Fool and Muddied Oaf, autobiography, 1986.
- Daily Telegraph obituary, 4 September 2003, retrieved 22 August 2009
- Playfair Cricket Annual 2004: obituary.