The longest running children’s TV show Blue Peter is entering its 61st year after a big birthday party on CBBC.
Thirty past presenters joined current hosts Lindsey Russell and Radzi Chinyanganya for a one hour spectacular which celebrated the show’s history.
The big birthday episode was two years in the making and the climax of a year of celebrations.
The show’s editor Ewan Vinnicombe told CBJ News, “I think the year of celebrations has gone really well. I wanted to make sure that by our 60th birthday, as many people as possible knew that it was our birthday.”
Video: Ewan Vinnicombe, Blue Peter editor
26,000 limited edition diamond badge applications sent in by fans illustrating special Blue Peter memories decorated the two studios at Media City UK.
The BBC Philharmonic Orchestra accompanied The Vamps, Sophie Ellis Bextor, Hrvey and Jonas Blue, who performed their latest singles.
An abundance of sticky back plastic and kitchen roll tubes helped presenters from several generations take part in a special ‘here’s one I made earlier’ challenge.
Both of the current presenters took on challenges of their own – films on the show saw Lindsey, 27, flying solo in a hot air balloon (designed by a Blue Peter competition winner) across a frozen lake and Radzi, 31, steering HMS Queen Elizabeth air craft carrier.
Audio: Presenters Radzi Chinyanganya, Katy Hill, Janet Ellis, Barney Harwood, Peter Duncan, Sarah Greene and Ayo Akinwolere
Being one of the 37 Blue Peter presenters is a gig often described as the ‘best job in the world’. The 32nd presenter Ayo Akinwolere – the first black male presenter – told CBJ News that he wanted to inspire a new audience by being on the show:
“At the time, there weren’t many people of colour presenting Blue Peter. I felt like it was a really good opportunity to open it up to more people – and that’s why I did it.”
“I saw [being a Blue Peter presenter] as an opportunity to travel the world”
Ayo Akinwolere, 32nd Blue Peter Presenter
Children’s TV veteran Barney Harwood presented the programme from 2011-2017. He told CBJ News that Blue Peter was a staple part of his childhood:
“I watched Yvette [Fielding] and Caron Keating wingwalk and Yvette had the same accent as me – quite northern, quite broad.”
“And I was like ‘wow, she comes from where I come from – how is she on a plane, how is that possible?'”
- Blue Peter has had 37 presenters in its 60 year history
- 25 pets have joined the presenters including 5 tortoises and 2 parrots
- In 2013, 20,000 hopefuls applied to be the 36th presenter. The winner – Lindsey Russell had just graduated from university before accepting the role
- The Blue Peter badge was launched in 1963 and it was designed by Tony Hart
- There are now 8 badges to collect – including a limited edition diamond badge for the shows 60th birthday
- Blue Peter receives over 1,000 bits of post each week – which are all opened and replied to personally by the show’s Badge Team
- In October 2018 Blue Peter received over 10,000 bits of post from viewers