I’ve been digging through my collection of television books during the past few months (unearthing some which haven’t seen the light of day for a while) and I thought it might be a good idea to highlight a few which I’ve enjoyed revisiting.
Blue Peter – The Inside Story was published by Ringpress Books in 1989, running to 236 pages. Although very much the authorised story, it’s still packed with interesting detail. That 1989 was a very different time is confirmed by the revelation that when the original Petra died after just a few days, they calmly went out and bought a ringer (and no-one was any the wiser).
Later scandals which befell BP (Socks-gate, the phone -in) don’t seem any worse than this but I don’t recall the Petra revelation causing any sort of ripple in the press back in 1989.
Down the years some presenters were more of a handful then others. It’s easy to see that Biddy had her favourites and it’s also noticeable that some long-runners (like Peter Purves) were appreciated rather than loved.
The sticky relationship with John Noakes can’t be avoided and his exit from the programme (which was rather uncomfortable due to concerns he would use Shep for advertising purposes) isn’t swept under the carpet. The travails of Janet Ellis and Michael Sundin are also touched upon (it’s quite obvious there was little love for Sundin in the BP production office).
Second hand copies are plentiful and quite inexpensive, so there shouldn’t be too much trouble in picking up a copy. Blue Peter – The Inside Story is well worth a place on your bookshelf.
One thought on “Blue Peter – The Inside Story by Biddy Baxter and Edward Barnes”
I used to have this book, until I gave it to the Oxfam shop.
The story about the two Petras wasn’t revealed until Blue Peter’s 21st anniversary in 1979, two years after Petra died (and long before this book was published). But there wasn’t any big scandal over it.
I heard a story that when they made Go With Noakes when John looked at the walkways of Britain the camera crew would film John and Shep walking, and then they would hop into the van and drive on to the next part of the walk. But Biddy Baxter said that the two Petras was the only deception they played on the viewers, so I don’t believe Go With Noakes was faked.
And speaking of which, the book mentions the argument between the Blue Peter production team and John Noakes when John wanted to use Shep in dog food commercials. In the end he did someone commercials with another collie called Skip. And this started a rumour that Shep was dead. People assumed that because he was doing the adverts with another dog then Shep must have died. In fact he lived for another six years.
A couple of years ago I borrowed a book from my local library (which I think they no longer have, they moved to another building since then) which was a large format published in 2008 to mark the series’ fiftieth anniversary, and that was an interesting read.
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