Robert Peston admitted he wanted ITV News to humiliate BBC as he was 'arrogant and vain'


Robert Peston swears live on air during news report

ITV News political editor Robert Peston went viral for reasons he wouldn’t have been hoping for after comments he made about teachers during lockdown. He seemed to indicate they didn’t do much work during the pandemic. His comments were part of a three-part thread about the economy when he wrote “the phenomenon of the Government paying teachers for not very much teaching, when lockdown closed schools”.

This sparked outrage from both teachers and many other people on social media, who knew how hard it has been for people working in the education sector.

Mr Peston tried to backtrack on his comments, but the damage was already done.

It is not the first time the journalist has backtracked on something he said.

In 2016, Mr Peston admitted he was vain and arrogant and that he regretted his pledge to humiliate the BBC when he defected to ITV.

The year before, the journalist, who had been the BBC’s economics editor for nine years, left the public broadcaster to become ITV’s political editor.

In an interview with The Guardian he insisted he would “never ever bad-mouth the BBC”, which he “loves”.

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Robert Peston admitted he wanted ITV News to humiliate BBC as he was ‘arrogant and vain’ (Image: GETTY)

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However, he then let his competitive side shine through.

He added: “Now I’m here I want ITV News to humiliate the BBC, get better scoops, win viewers.

“We are not going to be an existential threat to the BBC but we are going to give them a bloody good run for their money.”

In an interview in The Sunday Times Magazine the following year, Mr Peston back-pedalled on his boast that he would “humiliate” his former employer.

He said: “That was just me acting up, doing an interview because I was quite keen for the public to watch me in my first week.

“I love the BBC and I got upset about that sort of phoney spat, because Huw Edwards was a consistently good friend.”

Mr Peston also admitted being “arrogant” and agreed he was “pretty vain”.

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The BBC (Image: GETTY)

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ITV’s political editor Robert Peston (Image: GETTY)

He noted: “I won’t argue about that.”

Mr Peston’s threat to leave the BBC for ITV had been openly mocked by some of the corporation’s most senior broadcasters including Huw Edwards, Nicholas Parsons, Jonathan Dimbleby and Eddie Mair.

Speaking on the PM programme on BBC Radio 4, Mr Mair, who had a series of spats with Mr Peston, said that he would have “sold his kidney” to keep him at the corporation.

He said: “The very suggestion of Robert wanting to leave the BBC makes me want to cry my eyes out, literally.

“I want to publicly offer to stand aside as presenter of PM and offer my job to Robert as part of his burgeoning portfolio of programmes.

“I’m also prepared to sell my kidney if it increases the amount of money the BBC can afford to offer.”

Mr Mair spoke to Mr Edwards, the presenter of the 10 o’clock news, who said: “I can’t contemplate a future in the BBC without Robert Peston ranting on endlessly about his earth-shattering scoops.

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BBC News lead presenter Huw Edwards (Image: BBC)

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Scottish broadcaster Eddie Mair (Image: LBC)

“So yeah if he wants to present the 10, let him present the 10, on one condition.

“That I can be the studio guest when he’s presenting, then I can come in and sit next to him and rant on endlessly and see how he feels about that.

“In any case a bit of me thinks that he’s perfect for ITV, him and that Tom Bradberry, or whatever he’s called. They’re a match made in heaven.”

Mr Parsons, the presenter of Just a Minute, joked that Mr Peston’s ability to talk with “clarity and smoothness” made him the perfect candidate for a guest slot on his show.

He said: “I think the BBC must try everything. He has all the qualities, the ability to talk with clarity and smoothness and with clearness. I think the BBC should offer him the opportunity of becoming a regular guest on Just a Minute.

“That I am sure would induce the man to maybe stay with the organisation.”



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