Life and times

ITV’S po­lit­i­cal ed­i­tor on the ‘saintly’ Huw Ed­wards and his favourite Num­ber 10 res­i­dent

The Daily Telegraph - Telegraph Magazine - - CONTENTS -

Robert Pe­ston on Brexit and break­ing news

THE ONE THING I still loathe about my move into tele­vi­sion some 12 years ago is the con­ven­tion that when re­porters are be­ing in­ter­viewed they are ex­pected to stand in a place where there is usu­ally a pro­nounced wind-chill fac­tor – even in high sum­mer – but which is seen as the right back­drop for the story.

Out­side the Bank of Eng­land there is a size-nine-boot dent in the pave­ment, such is the num­ber of times I stood there spew­ing inani­ties about in­ter­est rates to the saintly Huw Ed­wards. Ditto the City of Lon­don HQ of Royal Bank of Scot­land, which was the vis­ual cliché for the al­most-bust bank. And then there is that black door with ‘ 10’ on it, which has framed me al­most daily since I be­came ITV’S po­lit­i­cal ed­i­tor (thank good­ness for the so­lace of­fered by Larry the cat).

The rea­son I hate this vis­ual lan­guage of broad­cast news is that it im­plies our view­ers are not quite the full euro. The lu­di­crous con­ceit is that what I spout must be au­thor­i­ta­tive by dint of my prox­im­ity to where power re­sides – like pre­par­ing for an exam by sleep­ing with a text­book un­der the pil­low.

This is to ex­plain why I was even grumpier than usual when on the Eurostar to Brus­sels to cover Theresa May’s emer­gency sum­mit with JeanClaude Juncker – hav­ing been told by Down­ing Street and the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion that there would be no in­ter­views, no brief­ings and no pub­lic state­ments to cam­era from any of them. So my bosses knew that what­ever I ended up say­ing to my an­chor Tom Bradby would be the same, whether I was out­side the Com­mis­sion’s Ber­lay­mont HQ or on the top deck of the 88 bus.

But I grit­ted my teeth, de­cided not to dwell on all the other less ba­nal ca­reer paths I might have cho­sen, and thought of the choco­late I would be bulk buy­ing. And ac­tu­ally the bosses were right . Gr­rrrr. Be­cause once there, I bumped into a bunch of Euro­crats who un­loaded on me all their frus­tra­tions with T May – and I had my story.

TALK­ING OF BOSSE S, one of mine emailed me to say he had heard on the grapevine that the great con­fes­sion in the book I’ve just writ­ten, WTF, is that I wept when Brexit won the ref­er­en­dum. He was anx­ious be­cause he feared this would not be a good look for ITV.

Hmmm. As it hap­pens I love a good cry – though I typ­i­cally re­strict the tears for when my beloved Arse­nal beat Chelsea in the FA Cup, or that fi­nal scene in the film of The Rail­way Chil­dren. The woman who has my heart, the jour­nal­ist Char­lotte Ed­wardes, finds all this wear­ing. Be­cause, hav­ing been sent to a board­ing school at seven, un­like state-school-softy me, she has been trained to ex­pec­to­rate no more than a po­lite whim­per even if her en­tire fam­ily were kid­napped by gi­ant taran­tu­las from Mars. Any­way, of course I did not cry on Brexit morn­ing. Tears are for im­por­tant events, like the fi­nal scene in Elf.

WHICH RE­MINDS ME THAT Christ­mas is com­ing. And that has been a sea­son of great anx­i­ety for me since join­ing ITV – after I was told that I had to vol­un­teer to be on duty on Christ­mas Day, as a kind of no­blesse oblige. They said, ‘Don’t worry, noth­ing ever hap­pens that day.’ Re­ally? If I’ve learnt any­thing in the de cade dur­ing which al­most all the banks col­lapse d, we voted for Brexit and Trump be­came the most pow­er­ful man in the world, it is al­ways to ex­pect the Span­ish In­qui­si­tion, as it were. Think of me when you are scoff­ing your tur­key, and I am jab­ber­ing in front of her black door. If in­deed it is still a she.

I did not cry on Brexit morn­ing. Tears are for im­por­tant events, like the fi­nal scene in Elf

WTF, by Robert Pe­ston, is pub­lished by Hod­der & Stoughton (£9.99)

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