Veteran TV reporter Peter Harvey has died, aged 68
The death of Channel Nine news veteran Peter Harvey from pancreatic cancer prompted an immediate outpouring of grief and tributes by colleagues and rivals.
The newsman with the rich baritone voice was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in October last year and died today with his family by his side.
In timing that would have appealed to his journalistic sense, the news broke just in time for the 6pm TV bulletins.
Harvey was best known for his 37-year career with the Nine Network and enjoyed cult status for his sign-off with the famous pause: ‘‘Peter Harvey ... Canberra’’.
Ray Martin lamented the loss of a great character. ‘‘Journalism, like politics and life, is full of bland, colourless people,’’ he said. ‘‘He is full of colour.’’
In a note to staff, Nine’s CEO David Gyngell wrote: ‘‘This is the saddest of days for the Nine Network. Peter Harvey – Harves as he is known to everyone – is and will remain an indelible part of Nine. Like Tony Greig who we also lost so sadly recently, Peter was a huge chunk of the DNA of this place.’’
Gyngell paid tribute to Harvey’s unfailing work ethic and humility: ‘‘It was the mark of the man that Peter insisted on coming to work and fronting the cameras right to the end – always grateful for ours and the literally thousands of well wishes from the public, but actually embarrassed about being the centre of so much ‘fuss’. As usual thinking little of himself and much more of others, principally his beloved family.’’
The Today Show’s sports reporter Ben Fordham tweeted: ‘‘Sad to say we lost Peter Harvey tonight but what wonderful memories he's left us. The nicest bloke you're ever going to meet.’’
Rival Paul Bongiorno from Channel Ten tweeted: ‘‘The nation has lost an icon. I have lost a dear friend.’’
A Current Affair’s Tracy Grimshaw tweeted: ‘‘Watching the tribute to Peter Harvey with old friends from the Nine Newsroom in the 80's. We are broken, but so pleased to have known him.’’
Broadcaster Neil Mitchell said Harvey was ‘‘a legend of Australian television. His abilities to present unscripted and with magnificent perception were pretty much unrivalled. I admire him a lot.’’Comics Hamish and Andy gave a touch of irreverence that Harvey himself would have enjoyed:
‘‘Peter Harvey, a news & TV legend. From two guys that have lisps, just consider how amazing your voice seemed to us. RIP.’’
Luke Hopewell, editor of Gizmondo, tweeted: ‘‘Let's all remember Peter Harvey in the best way we can: when he rapped at the ARIAs.’’
Harvey’s career at Nine began in 1975, one of his first major stories being the Whitlam dismissal. He had been battling pancreatic cancer for just six months.
Harvey was a reporter for almost half a century, starting out as a cadet with The Daily Telegraph in 1964 and then with Newsweek and the Guardian, before joining Nine in 1975.
While Harvey was remembered for his distinctive voice, story telling and globe-trotting exploits, his colleagues fondly remembered his kindness.
‘‘One of the things I most admired about him was the way he mentored younger staff. Peter’s was a generous spirit, he’s a real loss to journalism,’’ Laurie Oakes told Nine.
Harvey used to laugh at the fact young children imitated his Canberra sign-off despite leaving the capital in 1997.
‘‘I’m getting kids aged 18 and 19 coming up to me and saying, ‘Would you say Peter Harvey, Canberra for me?’,’’ he recently told the ABC.
He is survived by his wife, Anne, his journalist children Claire and Adam, and his grandson Rory.
- with AAP