Peter Sissons – The Beatles, Hillsborough and a Great Career

Coventry was lucky enough to have Mr Sissons speak about some of his life experiences and about his brilliant 45 year career in the Media at a recent Coventry Conversation.

Mr Sissons started the conversation by saying: “I go back to the early days of creative talent.” referring to his upbringing in Liverpool. Mr Sissons was luckily enough to share his Primary School education with John Lennon before moving on to secondary school where he met Paul McCartney and is still friends with him today. George Harrison was also educated at the same secondary school. When describing John Lennon as a boy he said: “He had a mean side to him.” Mr Sissons was then asked what George Harrison was like as a boy and he simply said: “Very very quiet, friendly.” Mr Sissons then explained how Paul McCartney and George Harrison actually met because they used to get the same bus home from school.

Mr Sissons went to Oxford University. He said: “I worked for the Oxford University Newspaper.” as a sports reporter. It was then that he had his first proper interview as Arsenal first team played and beat the Oxford University football team and he managed to get a quick interview with the Arsenal Goalkeeper. Mr Sissons described how he loved doing it and wanted to do more which is why he applied to the Liverpool Echo thinking that his newspaper experience and his Liverpool past meant they had to say yes. He was rejected. Although he was then offered a job with Thompson Newspapers, he rejected it as a better offer had come up.

Written by Alex Maidment – First year student

Mr Sissons’ first job in the Media was working for ITN in the ‘backroom department’. He use to write scripts for news footage so the pictures would be perfectly in time with the words. He said: “It’s a dying art.” and that today’s news simply features pictures as wallpaper and doesn’t keep up with what is being said.

Mr Sissons moved on from ITN and moved to Channel 4 where he continued his success despite a “disaster” when he was first on channel 4 news which referred to the editor who didn’t know anything about television and was fired after there was: “Practically a mutiny” as described by Mr Sissons.

He finished his career at the BBC where he was a News Presenter and also presented Question Time for a while. When asked if he had ever fallen in love with the BBC, he said: “Oh no, no, I admired it” and this summed up his view of the BBC as they cut him from presenting the News to ‘freshen it up’.

He is now on the Hillsborough Panel which is investigating the football disaster in which 96 Liverpool fans were crushed to death. He described the investigation and said: “Of course, in Liverpool, it is still a running sore.”

Mr Sissons finished the Coventry Conversation with some advice saying: “Always be aware, unless you’re driven, really want it, it won’t happen.”

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