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