Hi everyone. This week, British children’s TV legend Peter Fleming has written to me about Blue Peter to commemorate the programme’s 61st birthday this week. Take it away, Peter!
Hello there, my friends!
Well, well, well, happy birthday to that television institution, Blue Peter! Now, over the last 61 years, there have been 38 different presenters of the programme, not counting occasional guest presenters, and an incident in 1967 in which I was mistaken for newcomer Peter Purves and helped helm a live edition, ending in an unfortunate incident that saw me barred from Television Centre for the next month (in my defence, you’d be amazed how easy it is to kill that many horses without even realising!),
Returning to my point, there have been 38 Blue Peter presenters over the years, and through the decades, I’ve picked up a great deal of gossip about them all (either through working with them directly or through hearsay). It seems fitting to share a handful of the most interesting titbits for this week’s anniversary. After all, as the old saying goes, what better way to show your love than to libel multiple national treasures? Enjoy, my friends!
- Christopher Trace, hired as the first presenter for his love of model trains, ended his time on the show by making off with a real steam engine that he pinched from a railway museum whilst filming in Norfolk – everyone was at a loss as to how, because it wasn’t on tracks and had no fuel in it, but he managed it nonetheless, and was never seen again!
- Katy Hill is three children on each other’s shoulders in a big coat.
- Tim Vincent refuses to go out on any set until he has been fitted with the skin of a younger man.
- Konnie Huq can extend her neck up to two miles long – she was originally pencilled in to do more RAF parachute jumps than she eventually did, but she would keep completing them by stretching her neck out of the plane before jumping, clamping her jaw onto something at ground level and lowering herself to safety (very impressive in a different way, but it was cheating).
- Janet Ellis is one of five Blue Peter presenters to have engaged Tom Baker in hand-to-hand combat.
- Matt Baker is the only Blue Peter presenter to have shot me.
- Valerie Singleton once flogged a Girl Guide during camera rehearsals as a warning to the other guests.
- Anthea Turner has seven legs*.
- Peter Purves is the only Blue Peter presenter who can fly – he discovered his skill while bored at Crufts one year, but fears being captured in a big net and experimented upon by the government, so he only shows it off to close friends in his garden.
- Mark Curry eats the core of the apple.
- Peter Duncan fights tramps for food.
- John Noakes was 50ft tall – every time you saw him on-screen, a camera trick was being employed for which he was required to stand at the far end of the studio to make him appear normal-sized. (Climbing Nelson’s Column doesn’t seem so impressive now, does it?!)
- Diane-Louise Jordan started the fire at Notre-Dame – loathsome woman!
- Richard Bacon never took cocaine in his life; he just didn’t want the dogs to get into trouble.
*somewhere in her house
Fascinating stuff, I’m sure you’ll agree. And I haven’t even mentioned what Lesley Judd did! Many happy returns, Blue Peter!
Peter Fleming: Have You Seen? is being performed for the last time at the Bill Murray in Islington on Sunday 20th October at 4.15pm. Tickets are available here.