Veteran newscaster and announcer Peter Donaldson has died from cancer at the age of 70, the BBC has confirmed.
Donaldson joined the BBC in 1970, starting out on BBC Radio 2 before moving to BBC Radio 4 and becoming the station’s chief announcer in 1983. He retired from broadcasting in 2012, presenting his final bulletin on New Year’s Eve.
“Peter Donaldson was the quintessential voice of Radio 4. He was an engaging, authoritative and sometimes mischievous broadcaster, who commanded the respect and love of his colleagues and the public alike. He will be hugely missed.” – BBC Director General Tony Hall
Before becoming the ‘Voice of Radio 4’, Donaldson worked for BFBS armed forces radio.
It was revealed in 2005 that he had been a part of the government’s plans in the event of there being a nuclear attack on Britain. He had been chosen to read bulletins on the Wartime Broadcasting Service, a radio station that would replace other services should they be affected by an attack. The information was kept under the Official Secrets Act until 2005 when it was then declassified. Donaldson re-recorded words he would’ve been heard saying on the hour in bulletins.
“This is the Wartime Broadcasting Service. This country has been attacked with nuclear weapons. Communications have been severely disrupted, and the number of casualties and the extent of the damage are not yet known. We shall bring you further information as soon as possible. Meanwhile, stay tuned to this wavelength, stay calm and stay in your own homes. Remember there is nothing to be gained by trying to get away. By leaving your homes you could be exposing yourselves to greater danger. If you leave, you may find yourself without food, without water, without accommodation and without protection. Radioactive fall-out, which follows a nuclear explosion, is many times more dangerous if you are directly exposed to it in the open. Roofs and walls offer substantial protection. The safest place is indoors.” An excerpt from Donaldson’s would-be announcement on the Wartime Broadcasting Service
Gwyneth Williams, BBC Radio 4 controller, paid tribute to Donaldson describing him as a ‘magnificent broadcaster’ while News at Ten’s Huw Edward’s tweeted: “Peter Donaldson. Wonderful friend and generous colleague. We will miss him.” BBC newsreader Corrie Corfield wrote: “He was a huge part of my life for over 27 years – a good friend, a superb broadcaster, a mentor, an ally, a rock, and the best boss I’ve ever had.”