Former Blue Peter presenter Richard Bacon hit headlines 20 years ago when he became the first presenter to be sacked from the iconic children’s TV show after admitting to taking cocaine
But the 42-year-old paid an affectionate tribute to his “dream job” when he made a comeback to the show for its 60th anniversary celebrations at MediaCityUK in Salford.
Walking a special blue carpet the TV and radio presenter explained why Blue Peter, the longest-running children’s TV series in the world, means the world to him.
“It’s special to me because it profoundly changed everything about my life and had I not been on Blue Peter I would have been in a very different place now,” the father-of-two told us.
“Who I’m married to would be different, my kids would be different. It really changed me and I learned a lot from the mistakes I made as well.
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“This was the show that I got fired from and of all of the shows that I’ve hosted which have been a lot but this is the one that I have most affection for, the one I got sacked from.
“So it means the world to me Blue Peter.”
He added: “It was a dream job. Twenty years on it’s still being made in a vast studio with a huge crew and much love, it’s still there.
“It’s a show about which you can legitimately say is an important show and the only one I’ve ever done.”
Richard was joined at the celebrations by a host of fellow former presenters including Peter Purves, Valerie Singleton, Lesley Judd, Anita West, Sarah Greene, Peter Duncan and Janet Ellis, Yvette Fielding, John Leslie, Diane-Louise Jordan, Anthea Turner, Tim Vincent, Katy Hill, Stuart Miles, Romana D’Annunzio, Simon Thomas, Konnie Huq, Helen Skelton, Joel Defries, Liz Barker, Barney Harwood and Zoe Salmon with current hosts Lindsey Russell and Radzi Chinyanganya for a special one-hour live edition of the show broadcast live on CBBC from MediaCityUK.
Blue Peter’s original presenter Leila Williams, a former Miss Great Britain who presented the show from 1958 with Christopher Trace, and legendary editor Biddy Baxter also walked the blue carpet and explained how it has come to transcend six decades and countless generations, inspiring kids to send in more than 100,000 letters and pictures each year with nearly 200,000 under 16s owning at least one Blue Peter badge.
Leila said: “When it started it was in black and white and not many people had a TV.
“We were virtual unknowns but they took us on.
“We literally went out there, presented and hoped it was a success.”
And Biddy said: “With regular magazine programmes its easy to run to a formula.
“But unpredictability is the key to Blue Peter’s success.”
Janet Ellis, who became the first woman to do a free-fall jump from 20,000 feet filming with an RAF parachute team, said: “I wasn’t a daredevil before I joined Blue Peter. I was really cowardly.
“I didn’t even like games at school.
“You did things you wouldn’t normally do and that was the show’s gift to me.”
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