John Noakes: The action man of Blue Peter – BBC News

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John Noakes: The action man of Blue Peter – BBC News

Image caption One man and his dog; Noakes with Shep

His daredevil stunts were a major feature in exactly what lots of saw as the program’s golden years.

He became famous for his relationship with Shep, the dog that would never ever get down.

But he later declared his tv persona was fabricated and was a bitter critic of the program’s culture under its long-serving editor, Biddy Baxter.

I switch the personality on when I turn up to do the job, and off when I leave

He was born John Bottomley, the child of a mill worker, on 6 March 1934 in the village of Shelf, near Halifax in Yorkshire.

His moms and dads divorced when he was 9, and Noakes dealt with his grandmother before going to a regional fee-paying school, on a scholarship. He quarrelled with his father and left home at 16 to sign up with the RAF as a mechanic.

A year later on he altered his surname to Noakes, after a well-known Canadian trumpeter of the time, Alfie Noakes, who became his stepfather. In the few interviews that he did, Noakes constantly chosen not to expose his initial surname on the grounds he didn’t like it.

Image caption Noakes (r) in what many consider Blue Peter’s classic presenter line-up


He left the RAF and went to work at Heathrow as an airplane fitter for BOAC however he was currently ending up being interested in acting.

A series of ordinary tasks offered the money to participate in acting school and he made his very first professional look in a summer program with Cyril Fletcher.

He invested 6 months in the Broadway production of Arnold Wesker’s Chips with Whatever prior to moving back to work in rep in Surrey, where he met his wife, Vicky.

In 1965 he was appearing in a play in Leicester when Blue Peter’s editor, Biddy Baxter, identified his photo in a regional paper.

Classic line-up

At the age of 31, ancient by the standards of modern kids’s speakers, he passed the audition making his first appearance on 30 December 1965.

Timeless line-up
He became instantly recognisable, not least since his Yorkshire accent was at odds with the Gotten Pronunciation that was the norm in the 1960s BBC.

His first task was to conquer the nervousness stimulated by needing to perform on live TELEVISION so he decided to develop a character behind which he might hide.

Image caption An elephant with a weak bladder was a classic Noakes moment

” Moron Noakes has an extrovert character, is light-hearted and jokey. A bit of a buffoon who would do anything for a laugh or a couple of pence. I switch the character on when I show up to do the job, and off when I leave.”

He never stopped being a star. In later years he confessed that the incontinent baby elephant, among the program’s more memorable minutes, had not actually based on his foot as he pretended at the time.

Noakes at first partnered with 2 existing presenters, Christopher Trace and Valerie Singleton.

When Trace left, he was changed by Peter Purves, finishing what lots of fans claim was the traditional Blue Peter speaker line-up.

Where Purves was the school swot and Singleton the prim head woman, Noakes was the boy at the back of the class interfering with the lesson.


He tossed himself into the various challenges which came his method; white-water rafting, climbing the mast at HMS Ganges and travelling up the Amazon were some of the high spots.

One white-knuckle flight on a bobsleigh down the Cresta Run led to a crash which left him bruised and concussed after ending up the descent on his behind.

And he entered the Guinness Book of Records after becoming the first civilian in Britain to make a five-mile-high freefall parachute drop with the RAF.

Image caption Noakes in freefall in 1973

He had no fear of heights and, in one memorable broadcast, climbed up Nelson’s Column on a series of rickety wooden ladders in order to help workmen tidy up pigeon mess.

Like other speakers he was anticipated to have an animal and, in 1966, Spot showed up in the studio, the child of Petra, another Blue Peter dog.

Spot dropped dead at the age of five and Noakes broke down in tears when he went on set to provide his young audience the unfortunate news.

Punishing schedule

However Spot’s death opened the door for Shep, an enthusiastic black-and-white border collie who ended up being Noakes’s brand-new buddy.

The new dog was as excitable as his master’s alter ego and Noakes’s sobs of “Get down, Shep” ended up being a familiar catchphrase.

During his final two years with the program, he took a trip the country with Shep in a series called Opt for Noakes but, behind the scenes at Blue Peter, a furious row was developing in between Noakes and his editor, Biddy Baxter.

A formidable character, she had extremely clear concepts of how her speakers ought to behave, refusing to allow them any editorial input and insisting they work from scripts instead of an autocue.

Image caption His stunts became a feature of the programme

His co-presenter, Valerie Singleton, later on remembered in an interview that Noakes was the only person efficient in withstanding Biddy Baxter and getting away with it.

Noakes suffered long hours and poor pay, later saying that he had when worked for a nine-week duration with just a day and a half off.

The needs were substantial; a twice-weekly live programme combined with a punishing schedule of area movies all took their toll.

His feud with Baxter would continue to simmer. In 2008 he initially refused an invite to attend a reception at Buckingham Palace to mark 50 years of Blue Peter.

Given my time again I wouldn’t have done Blue Peter


” Biddy was an extremely hard lady,” he stated. “She was a bully who treated me like some nation yokel from Yorkshire. I couldn’t abide her then, so I won’t pretend I am anticipating rubbing shoulders with her now.”

He lastly relented after the Queen sent him an individual message naming him as her preferred speaker.

Baxter herself, who has actually gotten high praise for making Blue Peter into the success it was, has actually always rejected understanding of any rift between Noakes and herself.

Image caption Noakes (c) reunited with the old team in 2000

Noakes stopped the programme in 1978 triggering a big row over the future of his partnership with Shep.

He had actually been informed he would be allowed to keep the dog, which technically belonged to the BBC, however he was not to utilize Shep in any future advertising.

Once he had left, Noakes duly recruited a similar-looking dog to do a series of animal food commercials.

After leaving Blue Peter, Noakes worked for a more 18 months on Opt for Noakes, before triggering with his spouse on a round-the-world yacht trip.

The couple’s trip ended when their boat was terribly damaged by a giant wave off the coast of North Africa and they ended up in Mallorca, where they ultimately made a home.

Noakes continued with some tv work, providing a 1983 kids’s documentary series for ITV but he cannot make it back into the mainstream.

There was one remarkable and tearful look on a BBC program called Fax in 1987 where he announced the death, a few days before, of his precious Shep.

He was reunited with Purves and Singleton in 2000 when the three came together to dig up a time capsule that they had actually buried throughout a Blue Peter episode in 1971.

Read more:

Is John Noakes Ok, John Noakes, John Noakes Age, John Noakes And Peter Purves, John Noakes And The Elephant, John Noakes And Wife, John Noakes Autobiography, John Noakes Autograph, Blue Peter, Blue Peter Address, Blue Peter Address Fan Mail, Blue Peter Advent Crown, Blue Peter Alvaston, Blue Peter Animals, Blue Peter Annuals, Blue Peter Attractions, Blue Peter Badge, Biddy Baxter, Biddy Baxter And John Noakes, Biddy Baxter Images, Biddy Baxter John Noakes, Biddy Baxter Wiki, Is Biddy Baxter Still Alive

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John Noakes: The action man of Blue Peter – BBC News

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