Funny, a bit naughty, so kind – Fiona Bruce remembers Peter Sissons

Fiona Bruce has led the tributes to veteran newsreader Peter Sissons following his death at the age of 77.

The former BBC and ITN news anchor, whose broadcasting career spanned more than 40 years, died on Tuesday in hospital surrounded by his family.

Question Time host Bruce, who worked alongside Sissons at the BBC, said that he was “one of the loveliest men in broadcasting”.

“His brilliance in news was well known but to me, he was generous, funny, a bit naughty and so kind. I will miss him very much,” she added.

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Channel 4 newsreader Jon Snow also praised Sissons – who hosted the first edition of Channel 4 News in 1982 and fronted it for seven years – for setting “the tone and high journalistic standards that the programme seeks to emulate to this day”.

Snow added that he was “a consummate journalist, he showed real courage under fire and was indeed shot in both legs in Biafra.

“Our thoughts are with his family, friends, and erstwhile colleagues. He will be greatly missed.”

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BBC broadcaster Andrew Neil tweeted that Sissons “excelled at everything he did and was a first-class broadcaster and journalist to his fingertips”.

He added: “Plus great company off screen. Will miss him. RIP.”

BBC director-general Tony Hall described Sissons as “one of the great television figures of his time – as an interviewer, presenter and world-class journalist”.

Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan said that Sissons was “an excellent journalist & TV newsreader, and splendidly combative & amusing man”, while his co-star and former BBC Breakfast host Susanna Reid said Sissons’ “voice exuded authority”.

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BBC Breakfast Dan Walker shared a memory of his former colleague, joking that Sissons had never got his name right.

“Having grown up watching and admiring Peter Sissons it was such a privilege to end up working alongside him at News 24,” Walker tweeted.

“I don’t think he ever got my name right when he threw to me but I loved sharing a studio with him and learned so much. My thoughts are with his family.”

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Sissons was a familiar face for decades as a newsreader, joining ITN in 1964 after graduating from Oxford University.

In 1969 he was appointed ITN’s news editor, becoming industrial correspondent a year later, and industrial editor in 1972.

His first role as a news anchor came several years later when he began presenting ITN’s News At One.

Following his stint at Channel 4, Sissons joined the BBC in 1989 as presenter of Question Time, as well as joint presenter of the Six O’Clock News.

Peter Sissons and his wife, Sylvia
Peter Sissons and his wife, Sylvia

He moved to the Nine O’Clock News in 1994 and stayed with the programme until it moved to its new time of 10pm.

He retired from broadcasting in 2009 and was considered at the time to be one of the UK’s longest-serving news presenters.

Born in Liverpool, growing up he attended Dovedale Junior School, which boasts John Lennon and Jimmy Tarbuck among its alumni.

He later attended the Liverpool Institute for Boys, where he met another Beatle, George Harrison, whom he would go on to become friends with.

Before his broadcasting career took off, Sissons worked as a bus conductor in Liverpool.

In his memoirs titled When One Door Closes, he recounts meeting his future wife, Sylvia, at St Peter’s Church in Woolton, Liverpool, and the pair married in 1965.

They went on to have three children – Michael, Jonathan and Kate – whom he says, in the preface of his book, “could always be relied upon to put my ups and downs into perspective with humour and loving support”.

Sissons’s agent said in a statement on Wednesday that he “died peacefully” on Tuesday evening at Maidstone Hospital in Kent.

“His wife and three children were with him and wish to pass on their thanks to the hospital staff who were so caring and fought gallantly to save him to the end.”