When 47-year-old Jessica Rowe first met Peter Overton, 52, she was wearing a pair of denim overalls. Aged just 19 at the time, she was an eager university student doing work experience at Channel 9. While most of the journalists overlooked her, the young sports reporter took her out on stories, encouraged her to write, made her feel part of the newsroom. Grateful for the experience, she went off to grow as a professional.
About a decade later, when both were working as established journalists, he recognised her at the Logies.
Fast forward to 2018, and they’ve been married for 14 years and have two beautiful daughters. But as the former Studio 10 host told Mia Freedman on Mamamia‘s No Filter podcast, it took several years (and a little nudge from a friend) before Overton looked her way.
Here’s a snippet from their chat…
JESSICA: A number of years later, many years later, I was working at Channel 10 reading the news, and I went to the Logies. At the time I was dating this knob of a guy, and I don’t know where he was, he was off doing something. I’d managed to sneak my way into the Channel Nine party and Petey came up and said, ‘Oh, would you like a champagne?’
MIA: He remembered you?
JESSICA: Yes, he did. I don’t know if he was pretending to remember me but he was being lovely, and as we were talking I was thinking, ‘Why can’t I meet a nice man like this? Why am I not attracting really good decent people like this beautiful man?’ It was a lovely night, you know. We were just chatting, and off I went and off he went.
And then, not surprisingly, the relationship I was in came to an end. I was despairing because I was 32, and everyone around me was either in long-term partnerships, married, pregnant, about to have babies… I’ve always worn my heart on my sleeve, probably too much when it would come to relationships; I’d just get myself hurt, time and time again. So here I was again, single, thinking, ‘What’s going on? What’s happening to me?’
One of my lovely friends who was a rugby league reporter – Tony Peters is his name – he also worked at Channel 10 and we’d have a coffee most days. He called me ‘Bombshell’, and he had this quite high-pitched voice. ‘Oh Bombshell, what’s going on. Surely there’s someone?’
‘No, there’s no one. But you know who does seem really nice, Peter Overton.’ And Tony went, ‘Oh, I know him, I’ll ring him.’ I said ‘No you won’t.’ He said, ‘Yeah, leave it to me. I’ll ring him.’
So after we’d had our coffee we went back into the newsroom and I look across was a big open plan newsroom and there’s Tony on the phone. He’d rung Peter. Unbeknownst to me, Tony had to convince Peter to take me out.
MIA: Oh no!
JESSICA: Yes, I didn’t know this though – thank God – at the time.
MIA: Why did he have to convince him?
JESSICA: Well, because Petey had just started on 60 Minutes. He'd probably been there six months and it was an amazing job for him, he was travelling the world, he had been married before, he was divorced. He wasn't in that headspace.
I didn't know any of this either - Tony hadn't spoken to Peter for probably five years. So he was like, ‘Hello, it’s Tony Peters here. What's your status?’ And Peter went, ‘I beg your pardon?’ ‘You know, are you seeing anyone?’ Peter went, ‘No.’ And Tony went, ‘Do you know Jessica Rowe? What about taking her out?’ and Peter said, ‘Oh no. Listen, she seems really nice, but...’
And so this conversation went on and on, and Tony says to Peter, ‘Oh come on mate, just do me a favour. She’ll probably end up with the local barista. Just take her out. She's a bit sad at the moment.’ Peter went, ‘Oh okay. Alright, I will. But she has to ring me.’
So Tony comes across the newsroom half an hour later, does not - to his credit - say any of that to me. He goes ‘Bombshell, he'd love to take you out. Here’s his number, give him a ring.’
So I thought, 'Damn it. I will ring.' Because I'd asked blokes out before - sometimes you have to. So I rang Petey and, I'll never forget, he said to me, 'I like your style.' I went, 'Oh, phew!'
He said, 'Ah, so yes, Tony's been talking to me.' And I said, 'Yes, I know he has. Well, you know, what do you think? Should we go out to dinner?' Peter went, 'Yep, I'd love to take you out. I'm home this weekend, we'll go out to a Thai restaurant, I'll pick you up at this time... blah blah blah.'
So he did and it was a lovely night. At the end of the evening I made him get a parking ticket, but then he dropped me home. Nothing happened, of course.
MIA: Why 'of course'?
JESSICA: I'm protecting, Petey. Well, no, no not protecting him...[Laughs]. He often gets cross with me for saying too much.
Hear the rest of Jessica and Peter's story (including why she wore a mermaid outfit on their second date...)