Justin Webb reveals secret father - Peter Woods
Radio 4 Today programme presenter announces his father was well-known Sixties newsreader
The Radio 4 Today programme presenter Justin Webb (right) has surprised the London media world by revealing that he is the secret son of another newsreader, Peter Woods (left), who became famous in the 1960s as the presenter of the Nine O'Clock News.
Webb makes the startling announcement in the latest edition of the Radio Times, where he explains how his mother and father met when they both worked at the Daily Mirror in the 1950s.
His mother, Gloria Crocombe, was a secretary and Woods was a star reporter, who was already married with two children. They embarked on an affair but when Gloria fell pregnant she was sacked. When Webb was born no details of his father were entered on the birth certificate.
Three years later, Gloria married Hugh Webb and Justin adopted his stepfather's name.
Justin Webb reveals that he only once met his famous father, and that was when he was just six months old. But he says he believes Woods did contribute financially to his upbringing - "a decent, and in those days legally unnecessary, thing to do".
Woods died in 1995 and Webb's mother passed away in 2006. That, in part, prompted the 50-year-old to reveal his past. "Rather than read about us in a gossip column one morning, or have to respond quickly to something that someone else was writing after trawling Facebook, I decided to write this."
He also wanted his children to know about his past. "My change of heart began a year or so ago when they began to enquire, in that penetrating way children have, why didn't daddy have a father?" he said. "Now, with my father and mother both dead, and with the blessing of my extended family, I can be open."
Before making the announcement, Webb tracked down Woods's two other children to let them know of his existence.
Just as Peter Woods once worked as a US correspondent for ITN, Webb became a Washington correspondent for the BBC, before returning to the UK and joining the Today programme in 2009.
Woods was the first presenter to read the news in colour on British TV, and also appeared in the famous Morecambe and Wise version of the show tune There Is Nothing Like a Dame with a cast of other newsreaders.
But perhaps his most memorable broadcasting moment came in 1976 when he was taken off air mid-bulletin after appearing to be drunk. He was having trouble reading out the latest trade figures, and announced simply that they were "an awful lot".
Webb's fellow Today presenter, John Humphrys, who also worked with Peter Woods, told the Radio Times that he did not believe Webb when he first revealed his father's identity. "I assumed he was winding me up," he said. ·
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