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The generation game

Sunday, February 12th, 2012

From the Evening Standard:

Jon, Dan and Peter Snow

Growing up as a Snow, a Suchet or a Fox, who could resist following in the family footsteps? Five London dynasties talk to Hannah Nathanson about working with their nearest and dearest

Dan Snow, 32
I grew up thinking that everyone’s dad was on telly. As early as I can remember I used to say goodnight to my dad on television when he was doing Newsnight. Both Dad and his cousin Jon are very good at treating young people like adults. If you wanted to talk to them, you had to talk about what they were interested in, which was politics. I remember when I was five they asked me what I thought about Margaret Thatcher and the coalmining strikes, and Dad would take me to demonstrations in London and the House of Commons in session so I got the bug quite early on. Being in front of a camera in our family was quite normal. We always did piece-to-cameras for our family videos. It was what he and Mum, who works for Canadian news channel CBC, did for a living.

There are loads of fun anecdotes from working with Dad. We were sailing dinghies to show how the Spanish Armada was defeated by the English and the boom kept crashing into him. I am constantly looking after Dad because he refuses to listen to what anybody else says; when the crew are setting, he’ll be wandering through a minefield to see if there’s a better angle. You can always tell when Jon was in the house because he and Dad start yelling at each other. Jon loves huge bold statements and Dad likes interviewing him and knocking him down. Dad and I have a habit of arguing even when we agree with each other. We always know what we’re going to say next so I’ll be about to say something and he’ll say, ‘Can I just remind you…’ and I’ll say, ‘I know what you’re about to say and you don’t have to say that.’ It’s never personal: we disagree about things like how many First World War casualties there were on a battlefield.

Jon Snow, 63
I enjoy watching Peter and Dan on television now, it’s a very clever format because they are exactly as they are in real life- that’s what I’ve had to live with. Dan is a generational leader. He stands apart, not just because of his height but he’s a great historian. Peter and I might represent a work in progress but Dan is it, he’s the bee’s knees. There’s something that he’s got that neither of us have. I think it’s clarity and boundless integrity. When ITN offered me a job in the 1970s I refused initially. I didn’t want to work at the same station as Peter because it would have been hopeless; I mean the Dimblebys have tried that. But within a few months the editor sent me a note saying, ‘Just send me a paragraph saying you’ll work for us and the job is yours’ so I went there as a reporter in 1975. Peter was a formidable force in news reporting way before I went into it. We only got a television when I was 15 because Peter was reading the news on it. He had fantastic focus and was a very clear reporter. We argued like donkeys, especially about politics. He thought I was a complete extremist and I thought he was an old fuddy-duddy, but he was always right. He always had reason on his side and I always had emotion on my side.

Peter Snow, 73
Whenever I’ve had a career change I’ve asked my son Dan for his opinion first. He has a very decisive judgement and it’s always right. We first started working together when I was finishing on Tomorrow’s World. Dan was at Oxford University and got into the rowing 1st VIII; someone noticed him doing a recording about how to row a boat and came to me saying that he’d be rather good on the telly and why don’t we work together. ‘You must be joking!’ I said but they still wanted to try it, so we did a programme on the Battle of El Alamein in 2002 where Dan told the story of the man on the front line and I explained the strategy. It worked very well telling a dual story like that. People used to come up to me and say, ‘Are you Peter Snow?’ Now they come up to me and say, ‘Are you Dan Snow’s father?’ It’s quite fun. I’m immensely proud of the guy.

Jon is a superb journalist. He immediately established himself as someone with a great curiosity and a drive to find out what was really going on- rather like me, except he has the advantage of being ten years younger. When I joined ITN in 1962 I really wanted to be a trainee director and get into drama, but within a week of writing news stories I became a journalist and there was no looking back. Jon and I have both covered election nights at the same time. It’s been great fun watching the recording of Jon doing his bit afterwards. We’ve had slightly different roles: he has been the anchor, the Dimbleby figure of ITN, and I’ve explained the facts and figures. I didn’t give Jon a leg up into the industry, I simply told him who to ring. He found his way into radio and then television on his own merits. Within minutes of Jon broadcasting on LBC, my news editor said to me, ‘That Snow, is he related to you? How do I get hold of him?’ I gave him the number and Jon came to ITN.

The rest of the article is about other families and not included here.

Celebrity Antique Road Trip

Friday, November 4th, 2011

Dan and his dad Peter will be on Celebrity Antique Road Trip tonight at 7pm BBC2 in England and on Sunday on BBC2 at 6pm in Scotland and Wales and at 7pm in Northern Ireland.
Dan and Peter for Celebrity Antiques Road Trip

From bbc.co.uk:

Father and son team Dan and Peter Snow go head to head with experts Charlie Ross and Charles Hanson on the hunt to find the best antique deals as they travel through Hampshire and along the south coast ending up at an auction in Billingshurst, Sussex.

Further detail from HistoricDockyard.co.uk:

The National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) and Antiques Storehouse at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard were taken over this summer by father and son team, Peter and Dan Snow, as they recorded an episode of Celebrity Antiques Road Trip. The episode will be screened on BBC Two on Friday 4th November at 7pm.

Each programme will see a different pair of celebrities put their wit and bargaining skills to the test as they set out to find hidden gems along the road and auction them off, hopefully at a profit, at the end of their trip. All money made throughout the series will be donated to Children in Need.

One of Britain’s best known journalists and presenters, Peter Snow, partnered with antique expert Charlie Ross, competed against his son, TV historian/presenter Dan Snow, and expert Charles Hanson as the would-be bargain hunters travelled an antiques trail in classic vintage cars. The teams were each given a starting budget of £400 before starting their engines for the cross-country challenge in which they were tasked to make the biggest profit buying and selling antiques.

Whilst on their trip to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, Peter and Charlie couldn’t resist a visit to the National Museum of the Royal Navy where Head of Collections, Matthew Sheldon, showed them a fascinating collection relating to Admiral Lord Nelson.

However, Dan and Charles were hot on their heels and soon caught up with them to find some last minute bargains at the Antiques Storehouse before the big reveal of items collected for auction.

Find out more about Children in Need here.
Photo from AboutMyArea.co.uk

The Snow men: a family history

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

From the Guardian:
Historian Dan Snow and his broadcaster father Peter have a joint fascination with politics and the past. But do they also share the same outlook on love? Interviews by Carlene Thomas-Bailey

Father and son enjoying a bike ride in the early 80s.


My dad: by Dan Snow, historian

Dad never made any allowances for anyone. From the age of four he was asking me, “Who do you think should win the next general election?”, just because I happened to be the only person in the room. He always wanted his kids to take part in his life, and share his passions, from a young age.

Dad had a very traditional British upbringing: he never had any physical contact with his dad, he only shook hands with him. But when Dad was bringing my siblings and I up, he was very hands-on. He was not typical of his generation: he didn’t stay out and play golf all the time, he talked to his kids and engaged with them.
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Peter Snow and his son Dan

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

From here:

Peter: With Dan, I knew from the moment he was born that I was in for a son who would constantly surprise me. He was such an alert baby. I thought: “This is someone who will be successful at anything he tries.” We had such different childhoods. From the age of seven I was sent away to 18 different prep schools. But with Dan at day school, he and I developed a very close relationship, which I never had with my parents.

I have a serious problem finding anything negative to say about Dan. He’s never been difficult. Never had a moment of rebellious adolescence. And he shares so many of my enthusiasms — apart from my insatiable passion for model railways. He gets on with our friends. On Ann’s side, he loves Canada and his Canadian relatives, which has made us all, as a family, extremely happy. His sisters adore him. All five of his siblings love him, because he’s so good with everyone. He’s loyal, helpful and immensely kind.

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Snow go for Dan

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

From here:

Dan Snow may be happy not to be in the shadow of his father, the veteran television presenter Peter Snow, but he has clearly not yet convinced the BBC.

The 30-year-old historian was invited to travel with Peter, 71, through central Europe for the programme Around the World in 80 Days, as part of the BBC’s Children in Need coverage.

Mandrake hears that when Peter turned it down it was decided Dan could not be paired with anyone else, or present on his own. “Having Dan in another context wasn’t in the mix,”confirms a spokesman for the Beeb.

I heard about this programme earlier in the year and it seems a shame that Dan is not now involved – would probably have been pretty interesting!

Peter and Dan Snow – Imperial War Museum

Saturday, June 6th, 2009

My Mentor: Dan Snow on Peter Snow

Monday, June 1st, 2009

From here:

‘I don’t think there are many people who can explain a complicated idea better than dad’

Interview by Sophie Morris

Monday, 18 February 2008
Dan Snow
People say to me: “Oh, it’s really unfair. Your dad got you into television.” Yes, he did. But not by ringing up (former BBC2 controller) Jane Root and saying he wanted to do a programme with his son; he would have been laughed at.

From the time I was three years old until I was an adult he was presenting Newsnight all week and coming home at 1am, broken. Yet on Saturdays he was out of bed at 7am, driving me to Hastings, telling me about the battle on the way. He must have wanted to watch football or rugby or lie on the sofa, but instead he gave me a love of history and taught me about characters and how to look out for them, and how to tell stories. That’s where the real mentoring came in

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Dan Snow: History boy

Sunday, May 24th, 2009

Article originally published in The Independent on Sunday (Saturday, 26 July 2008):

Dan Snow, son of Peter Snow, has stepped out of his father’s shadow to become the BBC’s latest highbrow heart-throb. Here, he talks to Sophie Morris about the future of history, the complications of family life and why he is a terrible boyfriend

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