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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 September, 2003, 16:55 GMT 17:55 UK
Obituary: Peter West

Peter West
Peter West: the BBC's voice of rugby and cricket

With his quintessential public school delivery, Peter West was the voice of cricket, tennis and rugby for more than 30 years.

"Westie" also presented Come Dancing on BBC television for 15 years.

Peter West was educated in Kent and excelled at sport in his schooldays. But a spinal condition put paid to his rugby playing when he was 19.

He went to the Royal Military College at Sandhurst, and was an officer in the regular army until he was invalided out towards the end of World War II.

He was reporting cricket for a news agency in 1947 when he met Test cricketer, C. B. Fry, in the press box at Taunton county cricket ground.

"Dream commentator"

Fry recommended him to the BBC. West made his first broadcast soon afterwards for the BBC West region in Bristol.

He worked on radio to start with, and later moved mainly onto television.

He commentated on Test matches in England every year from 1952 to 1986, about 150, and for many years was the anchorman, giving the summary at the end of the day.

He had a deep knowledge of the game.

With co-commentators, EW Swanton and Brian Johnston
With co-commentators, EW Swanton and Brian Johnston
The BBC's chief radio sports producer, Peter Baxter, worked with West in both rugby and cricket.

"Peter was a dream commentator, one of that generation who hid his skills behind an apparent amateurism. But those who worked with him knew what a pro he was."

For more than 30 years West also gave commentaries on rugby union and tennis at Wimbledon. And he was at five Olympic Games.

He also presented minor sports such as hockey, cycling and fencing.

As a commentator he was seldom at a loss for words, though some found him a bit too cosy and unquestioning.

West joined Come Dancing in 1957 and stayed with the show for 15 years.

"It used to be live, which was a great challenge", he said. "I didn't know much about dancing when they hired me, but that didn't stop the viewers from blaming me for the judges' decisions."

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