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Magpie (ITV 1968-1980, Susan Stranks, Jenny Hanley)



Long running live magazine show for kids Magpie was a clear attempt by ITV to make a show to rival the BBC’s Blue Peter, featuring things to make and do and other fun and games.

Magpie began on Thames TV’s first day of broadcasting (30 July 1968) and finished 6 June 1980. The shows mascot (a Magpie obviously) was called Murgatroyd. Initially once a week after a year the show went twice weekly. The format was pretty much identical to Blue Peter even down to the yearly charity appeal and summer field trips. Generally the show ran for 9 months of the years (42 hours worth of shows) and was broadcast live from the Thames TV Teddington Studios. There was one difference with the charity appeals though, whereas Blue Peter would ask for Stamps and the like, Magpie asked for cash. The amount raised would be visualised by a red line that (depending on the amount) ran around the studio and even out into the corridor.

Initially the hosts were Susan Stranks (who had been billed as the typical teenager when she appeared on the very first episode of Juke Box Jury several years earlier), Tony Bastable and DJ Pete Brady. Douglas Rae replaced Brady in 1971, Mick Robertson replaced Bastable (who moved behind the scenes) in 1972 and Jenny Hanley replaced Stranks in 1974. Tommy Boyd arrived in 1978 replacing Douglas Rae.

Magpie ITV 1968-1980 Mick Robertson

Mick Robertson arrived in 1972 replacing Tony Bastable.

An early segment saw David Jason in comedy sketch as Captain Fantastic (a character previously seen in the show Do Not Adjust Your Set).

The show was initially broadcast once a week but quickly went twice weekly, the days were Tuesdays/Thursdays (until 1972) then Tuesdays/Fridays(1972-80) which meant from 1972 onwards it didn’t clash with Blue Peter which aired Mondays and Thursdays.

Presenters were Pete Brady, Susan Stranks, Jenny Hanley, Mick Robertson, Tony Bastable, Douglas Rae and Tommy Boyd.

The theme tune, based on the old nursery rhyme about Magpies, was written and performed by The Spencer Davis Group.

production details
UK / ITV – Thames / 1000+ x30 minute episodes / Broadcast 30 July 1968 – 6 June 1980

Creators and Executive Producers: Susan Turner, Lewis Rudd

1. 4 January 1972