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John Noakes June 3, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Reading about John Noakes death during the week, I was first hit by the thought… ‘he’s dead?’ and then ‘he was 83?’. Because there’s something almost inconceivable about John Noakes being anything other than the relatively fresh-faced and enthusiastic character that he was on Blue Peter. There from the mid 60s until the late 70s he was ever-present. And perhaps a fraction unusual because of his Yorkshire accent, a world away from the more typical London and middle class accents that typified broadcasting then (though a caveat, with three members of the family, my mother, gran and great-gran, while the latter was still alive, all from Birmingham Pebble Mill was a constant once a television appeared in the early 70s and so were Brummie accents).

This from the Guardian really captures the uniqueness of Noakes in a way…

It is hard to explain the significance of Blue Peter during the golden age in which Noakes was its lord of misrule. There were only three TV stations and no dedicated children’s network, so Blue Peter was culturally central to its viewers in a way no kids’ TV show could be now. At the peak of its popularity, eight million watched the show, savouring its time-honoured format: a live demonstration of an activity (usually involving making a model from plastic bottles held together with sticky-back plastic), and a music or dance performance, followed by an edifying filmed report with one of the presenters and some risky live turn with an animal. A thousand letters a day arrived from children keen to earn one of the coveted Blue Peter badges, which made them the envy of their classmates. “It was a bit like an overgrown schoolboy’s job,” Noakes told an interviewer many years later. “I was Peter Pan really. I sometimes think I still am.”

But as is the way of such things that’s only a part of the story…

 Noakes was later dismissive of those Peter Pan years, saying that playing Mossop on stage had given him more satisfaction than the entire Blue Peter experience. “Given my time again,” he told Radio Times in 1999, “I wouldn’t have done Blue Peter. I’d done theatre for six years and was tired. But the pressure was terrible. One year I did nine weeks with only one and a half days off. I collapsed and couldn’t go on. That’s the nearest I came to a breakdown.” Noakes even turned on the woman who had plucked him from obscurity. “
Biddy Baxter was an awful woman. I don’t want to talk about her. It would upset my lunch.”
His falling out with Baxter revolved in part around Shep. On leaving Blue Peter in 1978, Noakes wanted to make money from adverts featuring him and the famous collie. “I think it would have been immoral,” Baxter told the Guardian. “How can you have a Blue Peter presenter on commercial television advertising dog food so children think ‘I must buy this’?”

Melancholy, isn’t it? And perhaps it explains why he all but vanished afterwards – though everything changed too with the land of three TV channels becoming a world of multiple TV channels.

The article makes a good point that while Noakes wanted to be an actor, in truth in the persona he brought to Blue Peter, he was an actor. Anyone who lectures or speaks publicly or semi-publicly at all will recognise this dynamic, that the person who is there is a fraction, albeit depending on the individual only sometimes a fraction, removed from the actual personality. Perhaps that’s the way of it.


1. damonmatthewwise - June 3, 2017

Ah I recall hearing “This is dangerous, so don’t try this at home”, and still he did!

Liked by 1 person

2. carouselclub2017 - June 3, 2017

He was an original of a kind modern television companies no longer produce.


3. simonjkyte - June 3, 2017

“How can you have a Blue Peter presenter on commercial television advertising dog food so children think ‘I must buy this’?”
I am not sure kids can be persuaded to eat dog food


Dermot O Connor - June 3, 2017

Homer tried.


simonjkyte - June 3, 2017

Sing, goddess, the anger of Peleus’ son


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