It’s funny how some shows just seem to run and run, and Blue Peter is one such show.Â It must have been watched by at least three generations of kids by now, possibly even four, but for each generation there will doubtless be a particular set of presenters who stick in your memory as being “The Blue Peter Team”.
The show was devised by the humorously named Biddy Baxter, and the presenters I remember most are the trio of Janet Ellis, Peter Duncan and Simon Groom.Â You could also add Yvette Fielding (better known now for Most Haunted), Mark Curry, the now late Caron Keeting (daughter of Gloria Hunniford, she sadly died in 2004 from breast cancer) and Sarah Greene to that list, but those first three are the embodiment of Blue Peter for me.
Janet Ellis (mother of pop star Sophie Ellis-Bextor) was a favourite of mine because I used to love watching puzzle show Jigsaw, which she was also presenter on.Â She most famously broke her pelvis whilst sky diving as part of one of her challenges.
Peter Duncan was also a bit of a daredevil, eventually getting his own spin off show Duncan Dares.Â He ran in several London Marathons I believe, and also had the misfortune of having to wear a green and white checkered suit that made him look like a clown.Â The suit was designed by one of the viewers in a competition, so he didn’t have a lot of choice in the matter!Â Peter is currently the leader of the UK’s Scouts organisation, and I must say I think he’s an excellent choice.
Finally there was Simon Groom, who I always felt was a bit of a big girls blouse, as he never seemed to partake of any of the more dangerous presenter assignments.Â Whilst Janet Ellis was jumping out of aeroplanes and Peter Duncan was doing something equally perilous, Simon Grooms assignment would be to go for a bit of a ramble with Goldie the Labrador.Â Whoa!Â Careful there Simon, you reckless fool!
The format of Blue Peter has barely changed over the years, with a mix of stories about other exceptional teenagers (usually something like a black belt karate expert or champion bell ringer for example), the odd famous guest, things to cook or make (sticky back plastic at the ready) and watching the presenters do something vaguely dangerous (excepting Mr. Groom of course).
There was also the yearly Blue Peter appeal, where you were supposed to collect up something like milk bottle lids in order to raise money to supply books to third world countries or some other such charitable deed.Â Every episode of the programme you’d wait to see how many more lights on the “Totaliser” would begin flashing.
The Blue Peter pets were also a mainstay, with the afore-mentioned Goldie the Labrador (and later her daughter Bonnie, named by the viewers of course) and grey tabby cats Jack and Jill were seen in the studio most days, but the little seen George the Tortoise was also brought out twice a year – once to pop him in a box of straw to hibernate, and then again to wipe all the muck out of his eyes when he woke up again in the Spring.
Blue Peter is still going strong today, although for some reason they’ve now found the need to have five presenters – I really can’t work out why they could possibly need so many!Â For more Blue Peter information check out the BBC website.