My Mentor: Bridgid Nzekwu on Peter Barron
'He was ready to advise, and to criticise without undermining my confidence'
Monday 21 November 2005
I'd been at BB News about 18 months when I approached Peter. He was deputy editor of Channel 4 News, so had overall editorial responsibility for bulletins made by ITN for the riotous and ground-breaking Big Breakfast. I told him I was determined to work at Channel 4 News. I wanted to be a reporter and eventually present the programme.
My newsgathering role at BB News was a world away from thefare delivered by Jon Snow. Knowing every aspect of the lives of the Spice Girls was higher up the BB agenda than Westminster politics or world affairs. Yet Peter didn't assume that showbiz was the sum of my interests or abilities. Nor did he give me a spiel about how difficult it might be to get to where I wanted to be. His advice was: "Your best route is to start out as a producer - it's a good grounding."
Eight months later I got a coveted producer position at Channel 4 News - a chance to prove myself. Until he left a few years later, Peter remained inspirational and supportive, ready to advise and adept at constructive criticism without undermining confidence.
An equally important mentor was the screenwriter and television consultant Lea Sellers. In 1999, as producer of First Edition, a news programme for eight- 13-year-olds, she gave me my first break as a TV reporter. I learnt from her the discipline of writing to picture. Her mantra overseeing my early pieces was: "Wall of words! Take out half the script!"
Peter and Lea were born teachers with the key attributes of a mentor - patience, generosity and the ability to inspire.
Bridgid Nzekwu is a presenter of Channel 4 News
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