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If only we'd known about the Blue Peter lies and deception

PUBLISHED: 01:09 13 March 2012 | UPDATED: 01:11 13 March 2012

Yes, its Peter Purves, Lesley Judd, Valerie Singleton and John Noakes with his beloved Shep back in 1972... but, frankly, it was like watching homework.

Yes, its Peter Purves, Lesley Judd, Valerie Singleton and John Noakes with his beloved Shep back in 1972... but, frankly, it was like watching homework.

Archant

It escaped my attention earlier in the year when Blue Peter was cut from two episodes to just one a week.

It didn’t escape the attention of a 10-year-old in Merseyside, however, who has bravely said he will “do anything” to save the programme.

I’ll call him Peter. This is quite a bad pseudonym, because his name really is Peter. I’ll leave off the surname or perhaps change it to ‘Blue’, he’ll be changing it by deed poll soon enough.

“Peter, whose bedroom is a full-scale tribute to the show, with a raft of memorabilia including 20 annuals and signed presenter photographs, has five Blue Peter badges which he keeps on a shelf,” said a newspaper report.

Today Blue Peter memorabilia, tomorrow road-kill, mark my words. The rot started for Blue Peter back in 2007, when we discovered that an online vote to decide the name of the show’s new kitten had been ruthlessly rigged.

Viewers’ first choice was Cookie, the second was Socks. My suggestions (Hitler, Princess Diana, The Boston Strangler and Crippen) were pipped at the post.

Despite having offered the children the carrot of democracy, it was swiftly grated into the salad of deception by a streetwise production crew which pointed out that ‘cookie’ is a slang term for a lady’s hoohah (hoohah being the technical term referring to a woman’s thingy) and that to avoid Armageddon, the BP cat would have to be called Socks.

Now I pride myself on being able to out-swear the best, but I’ve never heard the word ‘cookie’ used as anything other than a term for a cake-like biscuit.

My son regularly asks for cookies, I had no idea that he was subversively denigrating the female reproductive system by using offensive slang – now I do, I’ve locked him in the cellar with a pile of bras to burn until he learns the error of his ways.

Anyway, the Blue Peter cat was given his new name, free speech was crushed under the jack boot of adult oppression and everything returned to normal if you don’t count that unpleasantness with the fake phone-in which cost the BBC (ie us) a £50k fine.

The show lost its editor over Cookie-gate and the BBC announced it would be introducing another weekly episode of Blue Peter in order to allow the presenters to apologise for all the show’s other untruths, such as the time that Valerie Singleton once suggested a group of plump majorettes from Huddersfield might be entertaining.

My own children didn’t care about Cookie or Socks because they ignored Blue Peter on the grounds that it is and always has been deathly boring. Had they realised it was jam-packed full of lies, they might have been considerably more interested.

Blue Peter, despite its porn-star name, has always been boring: the kind of parent-approved tripe that was the rubbish consolation prize when Grange Hill wasn’t on.

Packed with tedious historical re-enactments, devilishly-difficult craft projects and a creepy obsession with abseiling, it was like watching homework.

If you managed to watch an entire episode of Blue Peter without at least one presenter abseiling pointlessly from a great height, you were doing well.

If you managed to watch one where no-one abseiled, made a model of the International Space Station from milk bottles, introduced an item about a group of cornet players from Herefordshire or mentioned the sodding Advent Crown, you were doing really well.

It’s not for nothing that the only nostalgic clip from Blue Peter that anyone remembers is that elephant emptying its bowels on the studio floor.

When your cultural significance is measured by a steaming pile of crap, you have to start asking yourself some searching questions.

By the time I started watching Blue Peter – because it was marginally more entertaining than practising the flute or doing the washing up – there weren’t even any defecating elephants to lighten the proceedings.

The most exciting it got was when Simon Groom said: “what a lovely pair of knockers!” when admiring the sexy door furniture on Durham Cathedral and frankly, children cannot survive on boob jokes alone.

No one who had an ounce of cool to wring from their bodies liked Blue Peter.

When someone won a BP badge for sending in a suggestion about shredded newspaper being a suitable alternative for straw in Freda the tortoise’s hibernation box, it got read out in assembly and the child in question was shunned for weeks.

It was me. (It wasn’t.)

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