A fond look back as TV classic “Blue Peter” turns sixty
As the children’s TV classic celebrates its 60th year, Lorna Cowan takes a fond look back at ones that were made earlier.
FIRST screened on October 16, 1958, with actor Christopher Trace and Leila Williams, a former Miss Great Britain, at the helm, “Blue Peter” has won the hearts of young viewers over the decades and become a firm family favourite.
As the distinctive signature tune blasted out from TV sets, it heralded a voyage of adventure and discovery. Fans were enthralled by challenges, crafts and fund-raising, too.
Today, the format is fairly similar, with guests regularly joining presenters in the BBC studio. Last year, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge discussed mental health issues on the “Blue Peter” sofa and received Gold “Blue Peter” badges for their campaign work.
Princess Anne has also appeared on the show, in 1971, to talk about her then role as president of Save the Children.
Not all visitors have been well behaved, though. In 1969, an elephant called Lulu “spent a penny” on live TV, much to the amusement of Valerie Singleton, Peter Purves and John Noakes.
One name, Biddy Baxter, has always been synonymous with the TV programme. As editor from 1962 to 1988, she instigated the annual charity appeals and helped devise the much-coveted “Blue Peter” badge, to be awarded to those whose achievements truly deserve to be recognised.
A limited edition Diamond badge, shown on the 5,000th edition of “Blue Peter” in February, has been designed to mark the show’s 60th anniversary.
Current presenters Radzi Chinyanganya and Lindsey Russell will lead the “Blue Peter” birthday celebrations, which include a special edition show on Tuesday, October 16. ■