“Voice of Radio 4” Peter Donaldson dies aged 70

A familiar voice to listeners during the Christmas period, Donaldson delivered his final bulletin at midnight on New Year's Eve 2012

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Former Radio 4 newsreader Peter Donaldson has died, aged 70.

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Donaldson’s death was announced during the station’s news bulletin on Tuesday morning by Today programme presenter John Humphrys, who called him “one of the great radio newsreaders”.

Today editor Jamie Angus described Donaldson as “quite simply the voice of Radio 4 for a generation”. 

Donaldson became the station’s chief announcer in 1988 and retired fully in 2012 following a period of freelance work for the BBC which often involved him covering the Christmas period, reading the news as well as the Shipping Forecast. He delivered his final bulletin at midnight on New Year’s Eve 2012.

Files released by the National Archive a decade ago revealed that it was Donaldson’s voice which would have been heard on special radio bulletins in the event of a nuclear attack during the 1980s.

Following the news of his death, friends and colleagues paid tribute, noting not least of all Donaldson’s mischievous sense of humour…

BBC Director General Tony Hall said: “Peter Donaldson was the quintessential voice of Radio 4. He was an engaging, authoritative and sometimes mischievous broadcaster, who commanded the respect and love of his colleagues and the public alike. He will be hugely missed.”

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Helen Boaden, Director of BBC Radio and former Controller of Radio 4, added: “Peter was one of the great voices of Radio 4. On air he exuded impartiality, authority and calm. Off air he was wickedly subversive and very funny. We shall miss him.”