Published: 09:56, 06 August 2021
| Updated: 10:19, 09 August 2021
A revelatory book by Kent author and film-maker Peter Williams reveals the inside stories behind some of the milestone events he has covered during 70 years as a broadcaster and journalist.
Mr Williams, who is a Freeman of Canterbury and president of the Canterbury Festival, casts fresh light on iconic moments which shocked the world, and the personalities connected to them.
His book, Being There: Titanic, Marlon Brando and the Luger Pistol, explores his role in reporting on some of the biggest stories since the turn of the 20th century.
These include the birth of the first IVF babies in Britain and the USA, the death of speed ace Donald Campbell, and the execution of Ruth Ellis, the last woman to hang in the UK.
Elsewhere, he writes of evidence the owners of the Titanic, the White Star Line, lied to the official inquiries into the disaster about the reduction of the number of lifeboats on the great liner in the interests of economy.
Mr Williams also reveals how some of the most severe critics of IVF pioneer Patrick Steptoe, who had a home in Blackfriars Street, Canterbury, were quick to adopt and profit from the introduction of IVF once the first baby, Louise Brown, was born in 1978.
The book has already won widespread praise from industry heavyweights, including former Director General of the BBC, Greg Dyke, who describes it as "excellent".
Sir Clive Jones, ITV executive and former chair of Britain’s Disaster Emergency Fund, adds: "The great virtue of Being There is the fact that Peter really was there.
"Across seven decades, from local newspaper reporter to respected television correspondent, Peter has told truth to power, held our masters to account and celebrated extraordinary people.
"This is a remarkable book by a remarkable journalist.”
Suzanne Franks, a professor of Journalism at City University, describes the book as a "gripping memoir but also an enlightening commentary on events and dramas that have fashioned our contemporary world".
She adds: "Peter writes of encounters with villains, film stars, spies and some remarkable everyday heroes."
Among those everyday heroes was quadriplegic Hilary Lister, from Dunkirk, who sailed solo around the UK in 2009, with Mr Williams tracing every mile of her remarkable journey.
Professor Michael Irwin, Emeritus Professor of English at the University of Kent, writes: "This is a terrific book. Each chapter presents a fresh drama, espionage, murder, war crimes, world speed records, nuclear disasters, and Peter Williams was indeed 'there', on the case. This is an enthralling, often startling read."
Being There is available at Waterstones, on Amazon, and directly from the author at firstname.lastname@example.org, priced £16.99.