SPIRIT OF BELOVED HOST NOAKES WILL B John would see snaps of Shep and mem­o­ries of Blue Peter would come flood­ing back

The People - - NEWS FEATURES - By An­to­nia Paget

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.

Ele­phant

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

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