Development & Alumni Relations Office 


14 February 2018

The Sonic Lab at SARC – Queen’s internationally renowned Sonic Arts Research Centre – heard from one of the University’s best known graduates today (14 February) on his life as the most prolific voiceover artist in the UK.

Peter enthralled the lunchtime audience with anecdotes of his time working with the BBC, ITV, E4 and other broadcasters and as the voice for well-known brands.

Educated at Belfast Royal Academy where he sat A Levels in Geology, Physics and Geography, Peter came to Queen's in 1975. As a student, where he first started working for the BBC, Peter spent much of his spare time flying Bulldog airplanes in the University Air Squadron. He graduated in 1979 with a BA in Psychology, having specialised in childhood memory development for his thesis.

In a career spanning almost 43 years, Peter has voiced over 300 television shows, been a promo voice on over 60 TV channels worldwide, featured on 30+ AAA game titles and has been the voice behind in excess of 30,000 radio and TV commercials.

From commentary for big international stadium events and awards ceremonies, animation, feature film ADR and corporate communication, to documentary narration and prime-time TV entertainment shows – Peter Dickson aka “Voiceover Man” is arguably the king of all voice talent in the UK and one of the busiest voiceover artists around the world.

Fascinated by sound and radio from a very young age, Peter began his career at the BBC where he holds the unique distinction of being the youngest ever TV news presenter at the age of 17. In 1982 he moved to BBC Radio 2 in London, as an announcer.

“At that time, the BBC was run very much like the civil service,” Peter told the audience. “All jobs were acronyms, such as the DG (Director General), but the place had a great creative culture and there was plenty of time to learn all the skills of broadcasting.”

During the lunchtime Q&A in the Sonic Lab at SARC – one of the most advanced sound facilities in world and which he described as ‘mind blowing’ – Peter chatted to Dr John D'Arcy, Lecturer in Digital Media at SARC about creating and performing many of the characters on The Steve Wright Show for BBC Radio 1 back in the 1970s and 80s, his own late-night entertainment series Peter Dickson's Nightcap (again for BBC Radio 2), where he learned how to ‘create something out of nothing’ and about the origin of perhaps his best-known role that of the larger-than-life booming voice of the X Factor.

His dramatic announcements, arguably the iconic branding for the programme have certainly made him a very familiar voice, if not exactly a household name.

Among his other television credits are Britain's Got Talent, Chris Moyle's Quiz Night, Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway, Pointless, This Morning, Harry Enfield and Chums, The Paul O'Grady Show, Never Mind the Buzzcocks, Live at the Apollo, Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow and Harry Hill's TV Burp – and many more.

Currently the brand voice of Walkers, Money Supermarket and Dominos, Peter’s other major commercial clients have included: Paramount Pictures, British Gas, Halifax, Carlsberg, The Sun newspaper and Morrisons.

Peter is also a co-founder and director with the award-winning casting director, Hugh Edwards of Gravy for the Brain Ltd - – a company that trains actors to become voice artists.

In addition to offering hints to students (and lecturers) present in the audience on voice warm-up, Peter shared some practical tips on being a successful voiceover artist. He suggested reading text internally (2 or 3 times) before doing so aloud; asking oneself what the (advertiser) wants people to feel about product; trying to connect emotionally to the copy and learning how to lean on certain key words to give them more emphasis and impact.

“Never be afraid of silence,” he added. “Pausing occasionally draws people into whatever it is you are saying. Be aware of the light and shade of the text, keep things flowing, then lean on the key words.”   

Peter currently lives in Buckinghamshire near Chequers, with his wife Barbara whom he met when he was at Queen’s, and their two teenage sons.

As part of his visit to Queen’s, Peter met staff to hear what SARC has to offer and to explore possible ways he could volunteer his support to current Queen’s students.

To find out more about volunteering for Queen’s visit the website or contact Alumni Officer Natasha Sharma, tel +44 (0)28 9097 3135.

General inquiries to Gerry Power, Communications Officer, Development and Alumni Relations Office; telephone: +44 (0)28 9097 5321.

Photo credit (headline): The X Factor

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