Thursday, November 09, 2006

Peter West

Peter West was a well known and popular commentator on cricket and a familiar face on the BBC from the 1950s through to his last Test Match as anchorman in 1986. He also reported on a wide range of other sports -- including the Olympics, Commonwealth Games and Wimbledon -- and was rugby correspondent for The Times (1971-82). In 1957 he began presenting Come Dancing in Midlands and then nationally, hosting the show until 1972.

Born in Addiscombe, Surrey, on 12 August 1920, the only child of a retired city businessman who had set himself up as a poultry farmer in Cranbrook, Kent, West was educated at Cranbrook School where he captained the cricket team, rugby team and hockey team for several years and became head boy. He was commissioned into the Duke of Wellington's (West Riding) Regiment but fell into disrepute for playing cards with his NCOs. In 1941 he was posted back to Sandhurst as an instructor but found he was suffering increasingly from back pains. He was diagnosed with spondylitis and hospitalised before being invalided out of the Army in 1944.

West was working for the Exchange Telegraph Agency when he found himself sitting next to C. B. Fry in the press box at Taunton. The telephonist who had been assigned to call in Fry's copy failed to turn up and West stepped in to help. Fry recommended West to the head of Outside Broadcasts at the BBC which led, in 1952, to his becoming a television commentator for Test cricket, alternating with E. W. ('Jim') Swanton. Debuting in 1947, by 1953 he was second only to Benny Hill in the News Chronicle poll for TV personality of the year.

West was also involved in a number of other TV programmes ranging from Wish You Were Here, the holiday programme, to Get Ahead, about business entrepreneurs. He also appeared in adverts for Nescafe, Gillette and Vauxhall. Outside of television, he was a director of West-Nally public relations organisation.

Married (to Pauline Pike in 1946) and with three children, West died in Bath on 2 September 2003.

For once, figuring out the author's anonymous contribution to Swift Annual was rather easy. It's pretty obvious he wrote the feature below, 'Better Late Than Never', for Swift Annual 2 (1955) in which he mentions playing fly-half at school.

Cricketers from India. Official souvenir of the 1952 tour of England. London, Playfair Books, 1952.
Cricketers from Australia. The official souvenir of the 1953 tour of England, ed. Peter West. London, Playfair Books, 1953.
The Fight for the Ashes, 1953. A complete account of the Australian tour. London, George G. Harrap, 1953; Sydney, Australasian Publishing Co., 1953.
The Fight for the Ashes, 1956. A complete account of the Australian tour. London, George G. Harrap, 1956.
Flannelled Fool and Muddied Oaf. The autobiography of Peter West. London, W. H. Allen, 1986.
Clean Sweep. London, W. H. Allen, 1987.
Denis Compton. Cricketing genius. London, Stanley Paul, 1989.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Click on the above pic to visit our sister site Bear Alley Books