16 October 1958

Blue Peter

Blue Peter, the world’s longest-running children’s television programme, was first broadcast on this day in 1958. Since then it has become a national institution. It has had 274 presenters, of all ages, races, and sexual orientations, and guests have included monarchs, heads of state, steeplejacks and pop stars. The Blue Peter Badge, awarded for achievement, is ranked as the third highest British civilian honour, after the George Medal and the MBE.

Many Blue Peter incidents have passed into legend, including the myth that footballer Les Ferdinand was responsible for vandalising the Blue Peter garden. (A young John Lydon – better known as Sex Pistol Johnny Rotten – did however help clear up the mess.) On the programme’s fiftieth anniversary, viewers voted Cilla Black’s notorious appearance in 1969 the best ever ‘Blue Peter Moment’. (Full results below.)

A classic line-up: Singleton, Noakes and Purves


As voted by readers of stickybackplastic.com

1. Cilla Black singing Liverpool Lullaby, while Valerie Singleton plays the beleaguered mother, John Noakes the ‘snotty kid’ and Peter Purves the boozing father (with red nose and beer bottle). There were complaints that the song was unsuitable for children.

2. Val meeting Princess Anne, and being ticked off by a lady-in-waiting for curtseying incorrectly. The incident occurred in 1971, when she accompanied the princess on a trip to Kenya with Save The Children, which was filmed for the Blue Peter Royal Safari documentary.

3. Bill Bowls, the Labour politician better known as ‘Today’s Voice of the North End Road’, singing My Grandfather’s Clock Was Too Big For The Shelf and mispronouncing the word ‘clock’.

4. The tug-of-war team from Colfe’s Grammar School wearing T-shirts saying: I STILL SUPPORT THE SPRINGBOKS.

5. Tony Blair’s first appearance. In 1963 a group of children from the Chorister School in Durham came to the studio, including the young Blair. The excitement proved too much for one of the boys, whereupon Blair put his hand up and said: ‘Please, Miss Singleton, Denvers has wet himself again.’

6. Tony Bair’s second appearance, this time as Leader of the Opposition, in which he played his guitar, answered questions from an audience of children, and was shown the film of his previous appearance.

7. Christopher Trace and Valerie Singleton dancing with patients at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital ward while The Hollies performed their current hit I’m Alive.

8. Eight-year-old William Hague presenting 2,000 cotton reels for the Blue Peter Appeal for Africa in 1969. (See 12 October.)

9. The live broadcast from a Catford street party during the Queen’s silver jubilee. When Lesley Judd asked 10-year-old Lee Spencer what he would do if he met the Queen, he replied: ‘Kill her.’

10. Petra the Blue Peter dog being sick after eating a piece of  ‘savoury sardine cake’ made by John Noakes.

Picture: PA

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