February was a big month for Channel 7’s Peter Mitchell. The Frankston-born Melbourne news presenter, Peninsula resident, dad, proud grandfather and darts champion (yes, that’s right) celebrated 30 years behind the news desk.
This much-loved local (he and his wife, Philippa, raised their five children here) also welcomed their fourth grandchild the same week. And, true to form, Mitch shared the news on both, announcing to his social media followers: “This is little Audrey. Grandchild No.4 and weighing in at a healthy 8lbs in the old. It has been a big week!”
Mornington Peninsula Magazine caught up with this nightly news legend to talk about his milestone and discovered that while the news game has changed with the digital revolution, the thrill of presenting the news and breaking it hasn’t. It’s still in his blood.
“The thing about it is when I’m coming into work I don’t know what I’m going to be reading at 6pm,” he says. “No two days are the same. The adrenalin that you get from this job keeps you going. I love breaking news, the thrill of it, and I think that’s what attracts viewers to what we do.”
Mitch, 57, has pretty much always lived on the Peninsula. For 16 years he commuted to the city from Balnarring and he continues to do so, albeit from a different part of the Peninsula now.
“I’ve happily kept turning up to do a job I love @7NewsMelbourne and suddenly it’s 30 years later!” he announced on social media. “Many colleagues have come and gone, but I have wonderful memories of working with some wonderful people. And there are more to come.”
Mitch joined Seven in February 1988 as Melbourne’s weekend newsreader and was appointed weeknight news anchor in 2000. He’s delivered virtually every major news event, good and bad, since then.
“The big ones over the journey include the Black Saturday bushfires (2009) and the Bourke St tragedy (2017),” he says when asked about some of his strongest memories. “We went to Beaconsfield (in 2006) for a whole week and did the news in front of the mine for a week. That was very memorable, as was 9/11 (in 2001) and the death of Princess Diana (in 1997).
“Back then (Diana’s death), we were just starting to do rolling coverage of breaking news. I was the weekend presenter who broke it on air during a football match. I remember David Johnston was the main presenter and he went to London for the funeral so I filled in for a few days. It was 1997 – I remember because my middle daughter was born a week later – and I was at home. It was early on the Sunday and I was told Dodi Fayed had died and Diana was in hospital. I was told I better head in because they were going with the updates on it. By the time I got in the news came through that she had died.”
On a lighter note, he enjoys the occasional laugh on set with colleague Tim Watson, he loves a game of golf, and of course he and his family enjoy the Peninsula’s food and wine scene. We ask where he likes to dine out: “We enjoy the Royal Hotel in Mornington, D.O.C in Main St and we visit wineries, that sort of thing. We want to try Point Leo Estate and Jackalope. We also love The Rocks – you can’t beat that.”
Congratulations on the Big 30, Mitch. Long may it continue.
(Mitch is on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Check out the Instagram photo of a much younger Mitch in the newsroom, posted to mark his 30-year anniversary, with “not a grey hair to be seen”.)