For anyone whose childhood memories include watching Blue Peter in the ’60s and ’70s, mention of the name John Noakes will bring back happy memories.
For a generation of young viewers, Noakes was like an adventurous older brother, always ready to get stuck into whatever challenge the show’s producers threw at him, often with comic results when things didn’t go according to plan.
So the news that he’d been found after going missing for several hours near his home in Majorca will have come as a relief to the millions who remember him tackling everything from free-fall parachuting to climbing Nelson’s Column in his role as the show’s action man.
While some of the show’s 37 presenters have had long careers in broadcasting and showbusiness, others have slipped quietly out of the limelight once their time on the programme came to an end.
We’ve been taking a look at what became of some of them.
Valerie Singleton (1962-72)
Went on to present a number of heavyweight programmes on TV and radio. In 2008 it was reported she was working on a book about her private life that would contain a few surprises, but it has yet to be published. Now 78 and living in Dorset, in 2012 she was behind a product that aimed to make using computers easier for older people.
Peter Purves (1967-78)
Before Blue Peter he was known to TV audiences as one of Dr Who’s early time-travelling companions. After leaving it he became firmly associated with TV coverage of Crufts, which he presented for many years. As well as writing about dogs, he also directs pantos.
Lesley Judd (1972-79)
After a time working on a variety of TV and radio programmes, she now lives in France, working as a conference organiser.
Simon Groom (1976-86)
Derbyshire-born Groom was raised on a farm, which he often visited to make films for Blue Peter. After leaving the show he worked as a producer and director of TV documentaries, and presented a music show on a local radio station.
Christopher Wenner (1978-80)
After being dropped because he wasn’t popular with viewers, Wenner returned briefly to acting before turning to journalism. He has worked as a war correspondent in Beirut, Chechnya, East Timor and Serbia. He now runs his own production company.
Janet Ellis (1983-87)
Has continued to work as an actress and TV presenter. She’s also mother to singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor, with whom she appeared on Channel 4’s The Million Pound Drop Live.
Peter Duncan (1980-86)
Known for his daredevil stunts, after leaving the show he went on to present his own programme, Duncan Dares. He has appeared in the West End and was the UK’s Chief Scout between 2004 and 2009.
Mark Curry (1986-89)
A varied career has seen him work in panto, satellite TV travel shows, hosting Catchphrase and an appearance in Last Of The Summer Wine. A qualified tennis coach, he’s worked at Wimbledon for the BBC.
Anthea Turner (1992-94)
After Blue Peter, Turner’s career included a spell as a presenter on GMTV and appearances on shows such as Dancing on Ice and The Jump. Her career suffered in 2000 when pictures of her wedding reception, published in a celebrity magazine, seemed to show the couple using the occasion to promote a chocolate bar.
Romana D’Annunzio (1996-98)
The second Scot to present the show left to pursue an acting career. In 2009 she graduated from the University of Glasgow, gaining a PGDE Certificate in Secondary School Teaching. Previously she studied for an MA in English and Italian at the University of Edinburgh.
Richard Bacon (1997-98)
Although he was fired from the programme, Bacon has gone on to successfully present a wide range of shows. For four years until last October he was the presenter of Radio 5 Live’s afternoon show. Earlier this year he was seen on the small screen presenting The Big Painting Challenge on BBC1 alongside Una Stubbs.
Matt Baker (1999-2006)
Possibly the most successful broadcaster to have served his apprenticeship on the show. As well as the likes of Countryfile and The One Show, he has appeared on Strictly Come Dancing and presented gymnastics coverage from the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
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