With him, the terroir took precedence over crises on the other side of the world: for more than 30 years, Jean-Pierre Pernaut, star of the JT, who died Wednesday at the age of 71, made 1 p.m. of TF1 the showcase of the province.
Like the football JPP, the TV one was immensely popular. Five million viewers were on time for his midday high mass.
Bushy eyebrows, glasses and a deep voice, Jean-Pierre Pernaut was above all a recipe made of “proximity”, in his words.
Met a few years ago by AFP, he prided himself on having been the first TV presenter to create a network of correspondents in the region. To “have a less Parisian newspaper”, “less institutional” and “go see people at home”.
Arrived at the head of the JT in 1988, after 13 years at TF1, he imposes his style, with his subjects and his magazines, those of France of traditions, craftsmen, cafes and heritage. Forty minutes of newspaper, Monday to Friday, without a teleprompter. He will not leave the 1 p.m. news until 2020, in front of more than eight million spectators for his last.
“TV has never been a goal for me”, he assured, happy “to be in the coal every day”.
– “20 years ahead” –
In his office on the second floor of the chain, decorated with a photo of Johnny, a figurine of Titeuf and a map of France, the Picard congratulated himself on having had from the start “twenty years ahead of others”.
“20 years ago, I was the only one to talk about storms. For the others, it was vulgar. Today, when two centimeters of snow falls somewhere, it’s four subjects at 8:00 p.m. on France 2 “.
Each morning, rather than scrutinizing the news channels continuously, he devoured the front pages of the regional press to “see what the air is like”.
Critics did not spare him. The semiologist François Jost read in this newspaper a “certain populism”: “We see Pernaut as someone turned towards tradition, the province. But he always promotes, in his speech, the interests of the taxpayer, of the small against the big , of the provincial against Paris”.
But its success was its armor, even if the ratings fell towards the end.
When he succeeded Yves Mourousi, then boss of 13H00, in 1988, TF1 attracted only 2.5 million viewers, behind Antenne 2. He therefore gathered twice as many every day, with an audience share regularly exceeding 40%. and a considerable gap on the competition.
Which explains why France held its breath when it learned of its health concerns, such as prostate and lung cancers, which it made public.
– moods –
His collaborators described an inexhaustible and charismatic presenter, who joined TF1 on January 6, 1975, the day the channel was created after the ORTF broke up.
“He never stops. He saw his news as on the first day, with a thirst, a commitment that sometimes wears out the people around”, described Catherine Nayl, who was director of information for TF1, to explain his longevity.
After announcing his surprise departure from the JT, there was no question of retirement for him, with his online platform “JPP TV” and a weekly program on LCI (TF1 group).
The man went through “bursts of laughter and great outbursts”, added Catherine Nayl who rubbed shoulders with him for thirty years, alluding to his mood swings. A correspondent in the provinces confirms: if “JPP” is “close to his teams”, he is also a “hard worker, very demanding (…), angry but never mean”.
At the school of journalism in Lille, in the early 1970s, the student Pernaut did not stand out, but “he was already hyperactive, hyper-passionate, very involved in the job. We spent evenings writing newspapers , reports”, recalls his classmate, Jean Colin.
Unsurprisingly, when Jean-Pierre Pernaut returns to his “first love”, the written press in 2021, his magazine is called “At the heart of the regions”.
On the personal side, the native of Amiens, fan of motorsport, married in 2007 the ex-Miss France and TV host Nathalie Marquay, and was the father of four children, including two born from a previous union.
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