Why is Robert Peston’s hair more important than it sounds?

There's been a Twitter frenzy about the BBC economics editor's hairstyle – and he's got something serious to say about it

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What’s all this fuss about Robert Peston’s hair? Well, it’s long, tousled and causing quite a stir on Twitter. (It’s so controversial, we haven’t dared include an actual photograph for fear of the repercussions.)

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There are hundreds more tweets expressing confusion, irritation and even anger. People seem to really care about Peston’s hair. It even has its own Twitter account: @robpestonhair


But he’s the BBC economics editor – why are people worrying about his hairstyle? Good point. It’s something that Robert Peston’s wondering too. He says that “bizarrely” from the second he moved from print journalism to the BBC, some people have taken an “extreme interest” in how he looks and his voice.

Poor Peston. Is he feeling self-conscious? He takes all the mocking in good humour: “Thankfully @robpestonhair takes an interest in and retweets my views about the economy, along with giving updates about its own condition. It often gets into conversations with @StephMcEyebrows, the eyebrows of my BBC Breakfast colleague, Steph McGovern.”

But in yesterday’s Evening Standard, he said there’s a much darker side to these sort of comments.

Darker? What, the disgruntled tweeters want him to dye his hair as well as trim it? Dark side as in online trolling and abuse. Peston says the hair comments are one thing but there are countless “sinister” and “pernicious” comments that his female colleagues at the BBC have to grin and bear on a daily basis. 

“For example men often tweet pictures to female BBC presenters of their genitals or themselves masturbating in front of these presenters on screen. And the vicious things they write about Steph McGovern’s Middlesbrough accent would be seen as racist if said about the Irish or Indians.”

He says by contrast he has it easy.

Gosh. But let’s not get distracted from the important issue: is he going to cut his hair so he looks ‘normal’ again? He says the BBC once tried to give him a makeover: “When I joined the BBC it tried to turn me into a more conventional broadcaster. I had voice coaching – I assume the coaches have since taken up other careers. I was asked, nicely but firmly, not to wear flamboyant pink shirts and a long leather coat on screen.”

So the hair will still be there next time we switch on? Definitely. You can also look forward to seeing the new pair of glasses he’s bought. “I think of them as an homage to the young Elvis Costello”

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*By the time you read this, @RobertPestonsGlasses will almost certainly exist*