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Peter Allen (UK broadcaster)

Peter Edwin Allen (born 4 February 1946[1]) is an award-winning English radio broadcaster with 40 years' experience in journalism. He has been with BBC Radio 5 Live since it started in 1994, and presented the Drive programme for 16 years from 1998 to 2014.

Peter Allen
Peter Edwin Allen

(1946-02-04) 4 February 1946 (age 73)
Rochford, Essex, England
OccupationRadio broadcaster

Early lifeEdit

Allen was born in Rochford, Essex and attended the independent Brentwood School. At 18 he left school and started work with his local newspaper. He emigrated to Australia and worked for the Sydney Daily Telegraph.

Broadcasting careerEdit

In the 1970s Allen switched to working in radio, joining Independent Radio News, the newly launched news service for UK commercial radio. He eventually became the network's political editor while working at Westminster. He also worked as a presenter at its sister radio station LBC, the London news and talk station. Allen then switched to television and was ITN political correspondent until 1992, when he was one of "a string of high-profile resignations" following the company's budget cuts.[2] He then joined London News Network.[3]

On 1 March 1994 the BBC announced that Allen was to host its new Breakfast programme on BBC Radio 5 Live.[4] In 1997 Breakfast was extended by half an hour.[5] Also in 1997, The Times described the "witty repartee" of Allen and co-presenter (and future protaganist[6]) Jane Garvey as the best illustration of the station's tone, "friendly, informal, brisk, and mercifully, not terribly politically correct".[5] Garvey describes him as "the legendary Peter Allen who taught me a lot about broadcasting, and even more about confectionery".[7]

On 31 August 1997, Allen and James Naughtie hosted the BBC Radio coverage of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales which saw Radios 2, 3, 4 and BBC Radio 5 Live taking a single programme.[8] This coverage won a Sony Award for best news event.[9] During 13 years working together at Five Live, following Breakfast with Drive, Allen and Garvey won six Sony Awards including the Gold award for news broadcaster of the year in 2002.[10][11]

In 2007, newspapers including The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail cited unnamed sources which said that Allen had been rejected as John Humphrys' replacement on Radio 4's Today programme because he was not "posh enough" and did not have an Oxbridge background. A BBC spokesperson responded "The reason we are not commenting is that it is about whether or not someone went for a job that may or not exist. Consequently, we cannot really get into it."[12][13][14]

He has been with the network since 1994 and was the co-presenter of BBC Radio 5 Live's Drive programme for more than 16 years, from September 1998 to October 2014. He also chairs conferences and hosts events and award ceremonies, as well as performing as an after-dinner speaker. In July 2014 the BBC announced that he was moving to a morning slot for three days a week, replacing Victoria Derbyshire who was leaving the station.[15]

In August 2015, Allen presented a live programme from Hiroshima on the 70th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb,[16] speaking to several survivors of the attack and an American physicist who helped to design the bombs in the Manhattan Project.[17]

From November 2016, Allen co-hosted a 5 Live Sunday evening programme with Jane Garvey.[6] Since January 2018, he has co-hosted a Sunday evening programme on the same station, Peter Allen and Caroline Barker, in which they "delve into the personalities behind the headlines".[18]


  1. ^ "BBC - 5 live blog: 5 live Best Bits".
  2. ^ Henry, Georgina (9 November 1992). "Here is the news; ...and this is Trevor McDonald reading it. And making it, as News at Ten's first solo, American-style anchorman in place of the familiar double-act. But what's behind this change and all that hi-tech jazz?". The Guardian. Guardian Newspapers. p. 2.
  3. ^ Wittstock, Melinda (13 October 1992). "After the break, trouble". The Times.
  4. ^ Brown, Maggie (2 March 1994). "Media merger rules 'unfair' to small firms; TV regulator attacks two-franchise limit". The Independent. Newspaper Publishing. p. 6.
  5. ^ a b Frean, Alexandra (23 April 1997). "Bringing politics a-Live". The Times.
  6. ^ a b "Peter Allen and Jane Garvey were the original grumpy old git and sex-starved spinster, now they're back with a new radio show…". Radio Times. 27 November 2016. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  7. ^
  8. ^ Lawson, Mark (31 August 1997). "The death of Diana; Sky and CNN were first, but a royal death is a BBC matter". The Guardian. Guardian Newspapers. p. 7.
  9. ^ McCann, Paul (11 May 1998). "Media: Magic on the air at Radio Five". The Independent. Newspaper Publishing.
  10. ^ Perthen, Amanda. BBC's golden couple split; One Show host Adrian Chiles and Woman's Hour presenter Jane Garvey break up after ten years of marriage, Mail on Sunday 29 June 2008.
  11. ^ Wells, Matt (3 May 2002). "John Peel wins top radio accolade". The Guardian. Guardian Newspapers. p. 11.
  12. ^ Adams, Stephen (1 October 2007). "Radio 5's Peter Allen 'too common' for Today". The Telegraph.
  13. ^ Redmond, Camilla (2 October 2007). "Are the presenters of Today too posh?". The Guardian.
  14. ^ OLIVER, JONATHAN (29 September 2007). "BBC Oxbridge snobs stop radio star presenting Today programme 'because he is an Essex boy'". Daily Mail.
  15. ^ Plunkett, John (1 July 2014). "Adrian Chiles gets expanded BBC Radio 5 Live role as top female presenters exit". The Guardian.
  16. ^ "Peter Allen to visit Hiroshima for 5 live special". 21 July 2015.
  17. ^ "In Short - I Was There: Hiroshima Bombing, 1945". BBC.
  18. ^ "BBC Radio 5 live - Peter Allen and Caroline Barker". BBC.

External linksEdit