‘Hitch’ turns 75

Nine's Melbourne news presenter chalks up a personal milestone.

Legendary Nine News presenter Peter Hitchener is celebrating his 75th birthday today.

But after a low-key year, he is also planning a similar day today.

“I’m having a quiet day, just with the family,” he tells TV Tonight.

“Then on Monday, I’ll be back in here at Nine and hanging out with the Nine newsroom family in Melbourne, which means a lot to me as well. I’m just looking forward to whatever is next.

“Occasionally there have been milestones along the way but I’ve always rather preferred to just let birthdays slide by if possible, and this one’s no different.”

‘Hitch,’ as he is fondly known, has been busy the last few days with interviews on the Today show, radio spots and cutting the cake with his Nine colleagues.

“I’m so honoured and so thrilled to be to be part of Nine. I know that may sound trite, but it’s the truth. I just feel so great that I still have a role to play. The people are so nice to me and so welcoming to me. We had a lovely afternoon with some speeches and those of us who had February birthdays were made to feel very special indeed. There was a slightly, not entirely out of key, rendition of Happy Birthday.”

Queensland-born Hitch joined Nine in 1973, initially recruited to Sydney to host game show Gambit (“Gambit! A game of skill, fate and fortune!”) and read bulletins when Brian Henderson took holidays.

A year later he arrived in Melbourne.

“I came to this glorious city in 1974, and I thought, ‘Wow, how good is this? How long has this been going on? This is amazing!'” he recalls.

“I worked with Sir Eric Pearce, initially. Then, of course, Brian Naylor came over in 1978 and then I took over from Brian in 1998.

“It’s just been a wonderful time. The great thing about News is, it’s an ever-changing landscape. You’ve always got new and interesting stories to report on, so you just can’t get bored with that.”

2020 was of course the biggest year of news of them all, including bushfires, US election and a global pandemic.

“It’s been a very interesting story for us to cover. Hopefully we’ve brought local news back into into focus, because you’re looking at live stream stuff from all over the world, Netflix and Stan which offer great programs. But when it comes to news, especially the restrictions of lockdown, you need to know what our local requirements are. Melbourne-based, Melbourne and Victorian focused news bulletins,” he affirms.

When he isn’t reading news, or connecting to his social media following, Hitch enjoys chilling out with some Kath & Kim bloopers.

“They came up on my YouTube feed, they are so hilarious. I enjoyed watching them on Nine in recent months … it’s a repeat, but I just found them just as fresh and funny as ever,” he says.

“I love bloopers. Julia-Louis Dreyfus in Seinfeld…. her laughter is infectious.

“Having a laugh is probably the best medicine, and we’ve certainly needed it in recent times.”

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