Peter Wheeler: Actor and broadcaster who became the voice of ‘What The Papers Say’ and ‘Crown Court

The genial Peter Wheeler epitomised the breed of broadcaster happy to remain an off-screen voice for decades. His output ranged from current affairs to comedy and quiz shows. While active nationally, he never strayed too far from his home area of the north-west, enjoying long associations with Granada Television and BBC Manchester. He was particularly noted for his work as reader, and voiced telling headlines and extracts on the long-running, channel-crossing newspaper review What The Papers Say (1956-2008).

His first inroads into broadcasting were as a boy actor, in dramas for a young audience. By the early 1960s, the dark-haired, calmly commanding Wheeler had begun reading news reports and conducting interviews for Granada. He was host for an early public presentation of colour television, in Manchester in 1963. Then Crossword On Two, a competitive quiz show on BBC2 which he hosted, became the first such programme to be broadcast in colour, in 1967. The same year Wheeler became question master on the popular game show Call My Bluff.

Wheeler joined What The Papers Say in 1974 and remained with it as it continued in its late-night slot on ITV, transferring to Channel 4 in 1982, then to BBC2, still produced by Granada, in spring 1990. Due to the programme's topical nature, Wheeler described it as "the fastest ride on the fairground". In Gerald Gilbert's words in this paper, Wheeler provided "the rottweiler accent used for The Sun". The series allowed Wheeler to harness a gift for mimicry, more often shared with friends away from the microphones.

Still for Granada, he hosted the children's series Junior Criss Cross Quiz (1967), around the same time his brother Geoffrey performed the same function on the BBC's Top of the Form. He also created and hostd Full House (Thames, 1971-72), a children's quiz in which contestants competed to win parts of a house that lit up in turn.

As an adjunct to his work for Granada, the company required him to appear, effectively playing himself, in two gritty crime series, The Villains (1964), and The XYY Man (1976), about a genetically predisposed crook. Between 1975 and 2001, he made five offscreen contributions to Coronation Street, each time as either a radio voice or a racing commentator. His strangest guest appearance, playing a former schoolteacher picked out from the audience, was in the variety show The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club (1974).

Wheeler was a regular, as toastmaster, on M'Lords... Ladies and Gentlemen (Granada, 1978-79), an after-dinner speakers' competition with Ned Sherrin among the hosts and Peter Cook, Spike Milligan, Auberon Waugh and Katherine Whitehorn among the players. He presented a breakfast show for Radio Manchester, and at the other end of the day, Music Through Midnight for Radio 2.

Credited as "court reporter", Wheeler provided the opening narration, "the parts are played by actors" for hundreds of episodes of Granada's daytime drama Crown Court, for the series' entire life, from 1972 to 1984. The serialised cases are fondly remembered by viewers, with many confessing to getting a day off work to find out how the story resolved itself. Like many a professional "voice" of the time, he also had a stint hosting Come Dancing. He narrated and fronted many documentaries and industrial training films, from the 1960s onwards.

In 1981, he formed Peter Wheeler Associates, bringing his knowledge and experience of broadcasting to bear for clients from the commercial and corporate sectors, an activity which occupied him until his death.

Peter Wheeler, broadcaster, born 1934; married (four children); died 18 May 2010.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
News
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executives - Outbound & Inbound

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'