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Hereare somewemadeearlier.. KIDS' FAVOURITE BLUE PETER AT 60 CBBC set for special celebration as current presenters and hosts from the past join musicians including The Vamps to toast birthday of world's longest running kids' show.


YOU can tell what age someone is by which Blue Peter presenters they watched. To mark 60 years since the world's longest-running children's show began, there will be a one-hour live special today.

Starring some of the nation's favourite Blue Peter presenters, it will also feature music from the likes of The Vamps and Sophie Ellis-Bextor - all accompanied by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra - while the Diamond Time Capsule will be sealed in the National Archives.

Radzi Chinyanganya and Lindsey Russell are the latest in a line of 37 Blue Peter hosts - including Scot John Leslie, who presented the show from 1989 to 1994. The late John Noakes, who hosted the series for more than 12 years, was the longest serving.

The anniversary special will feature Valerie Singleton, Peter Purves, Anthea Turner, Tim Vincent and Konnie Huq - the longest-serving female presenter.

"To have all these people in a room is not something that's ever happened before or might never happen again," said Lindsey, who was born in Belgium and raised in Oxford. She joined the show after winning a nationwide competition in 2013.

Lindsey, 27, added: "It really is truly special. And it's really great to all be together and to remember John Noakes, who we sadly lost last year."

For both Lindsey and Radzi, 31, who also started five years ago, how special the show is never escapes them.

Radzi said: "It's surreal to be a part of an institution. In Britain, there aren't that many institutions that you can say to a grandmother, a mother and a kid, 'Do you know about something?' and they all know it."

A constant in the ever-evolving show has been the Blue Peter Badge.

There are eight types of badges - blue, silver, green, sport, purple, orange, gold and diamond.

In case you're not in the know, viewers earn a blue badge by sending in an interesting letter, poem, picture or story - Blue Peter read and respond to every single letter they receive, by the way - or they have to appear on the programme. It's estimated the show has awarded more than a million badges in 55 years. Lindsey added: "Our audience today is the best audience Blue Peter has ever had.

"They're so proactive, they're all earning their diamond badges, which are around just for the 60th."

She added: "I've met kids whose T-shirts are nearly falling down because they're weighed down with that many Blue Peter badges."

The Blue Peter Appeal started in 1962, when viewers were asked to collect postage stamps to raise money for homes for homeless people.

It's estimated that, across the 49 appeals since, children have raised the equivalent of more than PS100million in today's money.

When Radzi is approached by fans, he realises the amazing impact he is having with his job. He said: "I do something called the happy dance (on the show) and when kids do the happy dance, I always think, 'Yes'."

Asked about being a role model, he added: "There's an obligation I feel I have to any child who meets me or sees me on the TV to conduct myself in a certain way and hopefully the way that I'd do that would be something that bears fruit.

"Even if it's the fact that I get my hair wet because I've got afro hair and not many black people like to get their hair wet - I'm trying to send a subliminal message that actually, it's all right for you to swim."

Filming Blue Peter is no mean feat, especially as the presenters don't have an autocue. Lindsey said: "It's meant to sound like we are talking to the kids in their living room.

"We want them to feel like we are the only person they're chatting to and I think an autocue would take away from that."

The pair do, understandably, have nerves ahead of the live birthday bash.

"The pressure is definitely on," admitted Lindsey.

As important as the human stars have been the pets, as nine dogs, nine cats, five tortoises and two parrots have been a part of the show over the decades.

Lindsey's most emotional moment from the programme involves a Blue Peter pet - a guide dog that was trained up from birth and given to a young man called Callum on his 18th birthday.

"Seeing that process and being a part of that process, I was really proud, and just seeing how she was going to, quite literally, change his life," she said. "That's what Blue Peter does, that's what the brand is all about, that's what the badge is all about. That was a huge moment."

Another big part of Blue Peter is the presenters getting stuck in. That, of course, includes the "makes", the most popular being Tracy Island, which led to 100,000 requests from viewers for the factsheet in 1993.

Then there are the challenges - for the 60th, Lindsey has learned to fly a hot air balloon solo.

For Radzi, the most memorable moment was walking between the US cities of Selma and Montgomery.

"It was the march that Martin Luther King went on, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of that," he said. "I got to meet people that aren't famous, they're not rich, most of them are not occupationally successful, but to this day, they are the most empowering, courageous and inspiring people I've ever had the privilege of speaking to."? Blue Peter's live one-hour special is on CBBC today at 5pm. The show continues every Thursday on CBBC.

I've met kids whose T-shirts are weighed down with badges lindsey russell ON YOUNG FANS OF THE SHOW


happy Lindsey and Radzi

ANIMAL MAGIC Simon Groom and Sarah Greene on the show in 1998

ON CALL John Leslie mans the phone during his time presenting show

EARLY SUCCESS Peter Purves, Lesley Judd, Valerie Singleton and John Noakes with Shep in 1972 and, right, with Lulu the elephant. Picture: PA

BOX CLEVER Matt Baker, Konnie Huq and Simon Thomas with George the tortoise. Below, Anthea Turner and Tracy Island
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Oct 16, 2018
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