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Blue Peter (BBC 1958, John Noakes, Valerie Singleton)



Blue Peter

Blue Peter is a highly long running children’s magazine show (one of the longest running shows on UK tv in fact). The aim of the program is to inform, educate and just entertain the kids at home and over the years it has certainly achieved that, there have been thousands of notable guests on the show over the years too, from prime ministers to pop stars, it is broadcast live (meaning there have been plenty of slip ups too such as the infamous moment of John Noakes talking to a zoo keeper who happens to be holding onto a young elephant (called Lulu) that is making “a mess” all over the floor which John then proceeds to slip in).

The theme tune is called Barnacle Bill (once recorded in the late seventies by Mike Oldfield and used as the theme tune for ten years) and initially the show was a once weekly 15 minute show then in 1963 it went to twice weekly thirty minute episodes and then three times a week Monday/Wednesday/Friday at 5.10pm. Original presenters were Christopher Trace and Leila Williams.

Each year the team would go on a special overseas assignment during the couple of months each year the show was off air, the filmed reports of this are then shown over several weeks upon the shows return, also each year the team come up with a special charitable campaign that all the viewers can get involved with, this is usually along the lines of collecting bottle tops, aluminium cans, stamps and so on.

Also heavily involved in Blue Peter are the long line of pets (from dogs, cats and even a tortoise) that the show have looked after, the most famous one being John Noakes’ dog Shep.

Other regular ingredients include the cooking slot where the presenters showed the viewers easy to cook delights and also the “make” slot which gave rise to the infamous “here’s one I made earlier” and “sticky back plastic” sayings. The makes showed kids how to make toys and gifts from things they would have lying around, including the proverbial sticky back plastic.

Over the years there has been the odd controversial moment such as Richard Bacon being sacked after being caught in a drugs scandal, a phone in competition being rigged in 2007 (for which the BBC were fined 50,000 pounds) and the alleged fixing of a website vote to decide on the name of a new Blue Peter pet, a cat called Socks was the winner but most votes went for the name Cookie – the fall out saw two kittens arriving one called Socks and one called Cookie.

The show certainly looks like being around for a long time still though. In fact you could say it is practically an institution. However in recent years a few significant changes have been made. On 26 September 2011 the series was given a new title sequence and re-arrangement of the Barnacle Bill theme tune and for over six months the show only had two presenters (Andy Akinwolere had departed and was not replaced).

Meanwhile on 12 January the show moved to the CBBC channel and switched to just one show a week (Thursdays at 5.45pm then 5.30pm) and no summer break meaning the show is on all year round. There are still the occasional specials though.

Blue Peter

production details
UK / BBC/ 5000+x30 minute episodes / 16 October 1958 – continuing

Creator: John Hunter Blair / Biddy Baxter was the shows editor/producer between the years 1962 and 1988.

The presenters have been
LEILA WILLIAMS (1958-1962)
ANN TAYLOR (1959 stand in for Leila Williams on some occasions)
TONY HART (1959)
JOHN NOAKES (1965-1978)
PETER PURVES (1967-1978)
LESLEY JUDD (1972-1979)
SIMON GROOM (1978-1986)
TINA HEATH (1979-1980)
SARAH GREENE (1980-1983)
PETER DUNCAN (1980-1984 and 1985-1986)
JANET ELLIS (1983-1987)
MICHAEL SUNDIN (1984-1985)
MARK CURRY (1986-1989)
CARON KEATING (1986-1990)
JOHN LESLIE (1989-1994)
ANTHEA TURNER (1992-1994)
TIM VINCENT (1993-1997)
STUART MILES (1994-1999)
KATY HILL (1995-2000)
RICHARD BACON (1997-1998)
KONNIE HUQ (1997-2008)
SIMON THOMAS (1999-2005)
MATT BAKER (1999-2006)
LIZ BARKR (2000-2006)
ZOE SALMON (2004-2008)
GETHIN JONES (2005-2008)
HELEN SKELTON (2008-2013)
JOEL DEFRIES (2008-2010)