And now for something completely different…
Blue Peter, which celebrates its 50th anniversary in October this year, means something to children of every generation from the 1960s onwards – whether it’s the theme tune, the pets, the sticky-back plastic, or the legendary mishaps.
But one little known aspect of the programme is the extraordinary correspondence it generated almost from the day that John Noakes, Valerie Singleton and co. first went on air. By the late 1980s, Blue Peter was receiving an average of 7,000 letters per week.
In this wonderfully entertaining book, Biddy Baxter – the programme’s founding editor, and the woman who invented the Blue Peter badge to encourage children to write in with ideas, pictures and stories – introduces some of the very best letters received. Original, engrossing, funny – and sometimes remarkably rude – they provide a unique snapshot of life in the second half of the 20th century, of people from all over Britain (and beyond) and children of every conceivable background.
Dear Blue Peter
I couldn’t believe my ears this morning – my mum said come down stairs Wendy – there’s a letter for you – I couldn’t believe it had come from Blue Peter and I had won a badge! I took my letter to school to show to my teacher – Mr Herbert – he said “Not now Wendy” but when he saw it was from the BBC he said “Oh alright”. He read it once, he read it twice and then he read it again – then he said “My goodness” and took it to the Head Mistress Mrs Smith.
Mrs Smith read my letter to the whole of the school at Assembly – she said it was the first time anyone from school had had a letter from the BBC.
I’ll never forget the day I won my badge!
Wendy, aged 10
“These letters are a GLORIOUS read. Will done Biddy! (And thank you for my badge.)”
Biddy Baxter was the editor of Blue Peter, from 1962 to 1988. She was awarded a gold badge herself when she left the programme.