SPIRIT OF BELOVED HOST NOAKES WILL B John would see snaps of Shep and memories of Blue Peter would come flooding back
BLUE Peter celebrates its 60th birthday this week but without one of its most famous faces.
There have been 37 presenters of the remarkable kids’ show but for many fans John Noakes is their favourite.
The good-natured, easy-going Yorkshireman brought adventure, excitement and a boyish enthusiasm to the BBC teatime show.
His daredevil stunts and comic moments helming the show were TV gold. As was his on-screen relationship with unruly pet border collie Shep.
John even ended up coining a catchphrase: “Get down, Shep!”
Tragically John, who had Alzheimer’s disease, passed away in May last year aged 83.
But his widow Vicky says John will be alongside fellow former presenters Konnie Huq, Anthea Turner and Peter Purves in spirit on Tuesday’s one-hour live celebratory show on CBBC.
And she revealed that the memories of his 12 plus years on Blue Peter were a shining light during his battle with Alzheimer’s.
Vicky, 75, who lives in Majorca, said: “He was pretty poorly in the last few years. Alzheimer’s is a very difficult condition and no two people react quite the same.
“It’s difficult to pin down what motivates people in the latter stages, but I found pictures were one of the things. Once in a while something would trigger him, particularly a picture of Shep or something like that.”
She said: “He would remember and say: ‘Oh yes we did this, this and this’. Good memories.”
And the former aircraft fitter and actor had plenty of daring and hilarious episodes to look back on fondly from his Blue Peter stint from December 1965 and June 1978.
John was the show’s resident action man but sometimes faced mayhem in the studio. Most notably in 1969, when Lulu the baby elephant made a mess on the floor and trod on John’s foot.
But in classic Blue Peter style he and copresenters Peter Purves and Valerie Singleton kept going amid the chaos.
John also put his life on the line for the show, such as in May 1977 when he cleaned pigeon muck of Nelson’s Column. He scaled the 170ft London landmark using ladders roped to the monument, with no safety harness. In ordinary shoes, flared jeans and a green jacket, he reached the top and was laughing and joking.
In 1975 he was lucky to be survive after his bobsleigh crashed at about 90mph on Switzerland’s Cresta Run. He was upside down for 100m but escaped with just bruises.
Vicky said: “It’s all a bit like the Boy’s Own comics where the characters were always off doing exciting things.”
But of all his entertaining escapades, there was one stand-out moment, according to his widow. In 1973, helped by RAF’S Falcons parachute display team, he jumped out of a plane and became the first civilian freefall from a height of Vicky said: “I think Joh stunt was his freefall par “All of the other thin enjoyed but that was spe think that was one of t really felt he had done w Vicky always tried to wa but admitted she someti nervous. She said: “home in time programme s doing a darede dash to our near shop in town a coming to husband’.” Such was the appeal and abili with young audie show was attra