Blue Peter (CBBC, 1958-present)
This is a CBBC show that I have wanted to feature on here for a while as I did watch it sometimes, but it is such a well-known and long-running show that it is hard to have a fresh take on it that avoids the usual facts and cliches. One of these is that children who watched Blue Peter and CBBC were always polite and well-behaved, and the rougher, naughtier ones only watched CITV (and their nearest equivalent Magpie that ran 1968-1980).
Now I have always found this to be a little odd, and maybe it is a myth, as I certainly never remember my parents ever saying that I could only watch one side or the other. But one thing that is known is that Blue Peter has now been running for over 60 years, making it one of the most enduring TV shows in this country, so what is the secret of its success?
The basic idea of Blue Peter is that it’s a magazine show that was originally shown twice a week, and it usually featured two, three, or even four regular hosts, along with plenty of pets including cats and dogs who viewers became as fond of as the hosts. Features included people showing off their various skills, and the hosts often had to be game enough to join in. Sometimes they could barely fit all of it in the studio.
There would also be a look behind the scenes at various activities, fun in the garden, and you’d even get the occasional celebrity guest or pop group turn up to join in. One of the highlights of the show was when the hosts would make various things (but were any of them as good as what you would get on Art Attack?), and the annual appeals where they would wheel out the totaliser to show how well they’ve done, and they’d conclude all this by sticking some tinsel on a coathanger to celebrate Christmas.
During the summer break, the hosts went off on an expedition (never “a holiday”), and we’d see the results of that at the start of the next series. There were also competitions where viewers could win a coveted badge, and there has also been some merchandise released including plenty of annuals, I think I had one or two of them. Now my era of Blue Peter was the 90s, and many years on the presenters do stay with you. Stuart, Tim, Katy, Romana… er, yes, terrific.
By 1995 Blue Peter was extended to three editions a week, along with an omnibus repeat. There have now been over 5,000 editions, but it recent years the show has been trimmed back a bit, now showing only once a week on the CBBC Channel and with two hosts. I’m not sure how popular it is with the current younger viewers, but the fact that the good ship is still sailing at all must be a comfort to most people of several generations.