Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

The Belfast voice known to X Factor fans everywhere

The X Factor team accepting an award

Peter Dickson has one of the most recognisable voices on TV — and not a trace of a Belfast accent to be heard.

Dickson is the voice behind the success of the X Factor. The Belfast man is the voiceover king who makes instant catchphrases out of finalists’ names.

He is also the character behind the wacky E4 commercials and coined the phrase ‘Sunday Ruddy Sunday’.

So how did a Belfast boy become the most sought-after announcer in television?

Born in the Knock area of Belfast, Peter attended Belfast Royal Academy and has fond memories of his formative years.

The self-proclaimed ‘Voiceover Guy’ got his first break in television while studying for a psychology degree at Queen’s in the late 1970s.

“I was a member of the Queen’s film unit and Queen’s Film Society; we would have made documentaries and short films. Whilst at Queen’s I was told about a BBC announcer position. I went for it and got it.”

Peter spent four years as a radio reporter and sub-editor at BBC Northern Ireland, where he worked on shows such as Good Morning Ulster.

In 1982 he moved to BBC Radio 2 in London, where he presented his own entertainment series, ‘Peter Dickson's Nightcap’.

In the 1990s Peter decided to move away from journalism to focus on presenting and voice work.

His voiceover career began while working with BBC Radio 2 presenter Steve Wright: “I would say my Voiceover Guy persona grew out of my time with Steve Wright. It was a brilliant show”.

When Sir Bruce Forsyth needed an announcer for Bruce's Price Is Right, Peter was brought on board and he made the catchphrase ‘Come on down’ all his own.

Despite spending most of his life in England Peter remains close to his roots in Northern Ireland: “I return every Christmas and spend at least a week in Northern Ireland. My wife’s parents still live in Comber and my sister lives in Bangor.”

Since leaving BBC radio, Peter has worked on shows for nearly every major TV network in the UK and beyond, including the biggest show on our screens — The X Factor.

He told us he loves the atmosphere of the show: “It is the biggest show on TV and I am very proud to be associated with it. It’s a real fun show to do. Simon Cowell is delightful and very straightforward.”

“Dannii is delightful. Her dressing room door would always be open and she would invite you in even if her hair was in rollers and she was wearing no makeup. I don’t know Cheryl as well as Dannii. Cheryl’s door would be closed a lot.”

In coming weeks Peter can be heard working for BBC Sports Relief: “I am fronting a commercial to encourage as many people as possible to walk a mile for the charity.”

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