With one of the most recognisable voices in Britain, broadcaster and vocal artist Peter Dickson has become one of TV’s largest assets. The unofficial voice of Saturday night, with the exception of the 2015 series, Peter has been the unmistakable announcer on The X Factor since it’s conception in 2004. Yet his face remains somewhat of an enigma and despite contributing to some of the most defining television of the past twenty years, he has managed to maintain his anonymity in the celebrity obsessed culture of 2020. Beginning his career as a journalist and broadcaster following graduating with a BA in Psychology from Queen’s University, Peter secured a role in the presentation team at BBC Radio Ulster.
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A move to BBC Radio 1 during the late 1980’s would showcase Peter’s flare for voice transformation when he made a surprise union with anarchic broadcaster Steve Wright. Working with a consummate professional like Wright was a dream for Peter who relished the opportunity to play around with the medium of radio as he became one of Wright’s on air crew. It was here that he discovered Steve Wright’s unique talent for broadcasting and the meticulous nature in which his shows are produced. Still in the era of traditional DJs such as Dave Lee-Travis and Simon Bates dominating the station, Peter could see a change on the horizon, in order for the station to re-engage with its 18-25 youth demographic.
By 1995 Peter’s flare for broadcasting had been spotted by TV producers who wanted to use his vocal talent to the fullest potential. ITV had the desire to resurrect the popular 1980’s game show The Price is Right, now with Bruce Forsyth at the helm and were now seeking that special someone to reprise the iconic “Come On Down” catchphrase. Working alongside such an entertainment icon proved an invaluable experience for Peter and was a definitive masterclass in the art of entertainment presentation. Bruce’s Price is Right dominated the ITV schedule until 2001 when Forsyth decided to call time on the price checking game. Yet this wasn’t the end of Peter’s association with the format, reprising the role first in 2005 as part of Ant and Dec’s Gameshow Marathon and then the following year when Joe Pasquale inherited the series.
Slowly becoming a recognised TV voice, in 2002 was selected to replace the late Patrick Allen as E4’s continuity announcer. The channel had the desire to build upon the character of the eccentric English gentlemen which Allen had perfectly crafted who would frequently say the most outrageous and outlandish things in a Received Pronunciation accent. This was something which Peter enjoyed immensely as it allowed him to be a little cheeky with the words that he said. To appeal to the 18-25 demographic, Peter subverted the slang lexicon of the time. Never before had a continuity announcer been given the freedom to create a definite character but in order to appear to the rebellious nature of E4 this character was crucial. The audience instantly latched on to the fact that here was a man of mature years seemingly uttering statements associated with the young generation and they seemed to appreciate it. Almost two decades later Peter’s irreverent charm remains synonymous with the channel and new generations of young viewers take great delight in his irreverent commentary to E4’s output.
Despite his countless achievements, perhaps Peter’s most celebrated role came in 2004 when he auditioned for the voiceover on a brand new Saturday night talent show. The X Factor was the latest venture by ITV and Simon Cowell to transform members of the public into international stars via an interactive singing contest. In order to adhere to the Hollywood glamour of the series, the show required an authoritative voice to introduce the acts and Peter’s anarchic tone was the perfect accompaniment to the show. This aspect instantly became a successful shorthand for the series and helped to set The X Factor apart from its competitors. Despite Peter being anonymous from public view, he has become the unofficial voice of The X Factor and is now synonymous with shiny floor styled entertainment. What was once considered a standard production technique has now become a television art form and Peter has been at the very forefront of this cultural revolution.
For nine years, Peter oversaw a whole host of changes to The X Factor and witnessed it grow into the ratings juggernaut of the 21st century. In 2015 he recognised the significance in going out on a high and made his departure from the series and was replaced by Redd Pepper. Yet by the time the series had reached the live show, Peter had been asked to reprise his role which cemented his place in the hearts of the nation. It’s unclear what the future holds for The X Factor but Peter shall forever be proud of his contribution to what was the biggest show on TV and it’s among one of the greatest achievements in a career which has spanned generations.
Forever staying in touch with advancements in new technology, Peter’s fascination with e-communications has informed the latter part of his career. This inspired him to create an IT solution company which assists organisations to host events online, still maintaining the benefits of meeting face to face. Ironically the company was established before the coronavirus lockdown but has obviously benefited from the circumstances that businesses find themselves in. Therefore when the majority of the population is facing the prospect of a career hiatus, Peter’s new venture has hit at the right moment. It’s clear that for the past three decades, Peter has remained on the cutting edge of new entertainment and technology and has earned his rightful status as a national treasure. It was a great pleasure to interview the great Peter Dickson and with a substantial career behind him it remains exciting to see where the next chapter shall take him.
For more information about his various projects head to Peter’s website; https://www.peterdickson.co.uk/