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On 16th May 2012 it was announced that Blue Peter is moving away from its prime time slot for the first time, making now the perfect opportunity to look back and celebrate Britain's most influential, and loved, children's TV show.
I am Mark Curry: Blue Peter presenter number 15, from 1986 until 1989. I want to write a book which tells all the Blue Peter presenters’ stories, including mine. Books have been written before about the actual programme, but there has never been a book which delves into the lives – past and present - of the people who make the show happen.
Everyone who has grown up watching this flagship children’s programme remembers their generation's presenters. The whole idea of the show has always been that the viewer is taken on a half hour adventure with the hosts as the guides. What the presenters do, what they make, who they meet, where they go and even what they wear has had an influence on children watching television between 5 and 5.30pm on BBC1 for the past 53 years.
There have been 32 presenters since the programme began in 1958. This book will uncover their stories. Where were they before Blue Peter? How did they land the job? Was it what they expected? What are their best memories – and their worst? How did it change their lives? Why did they leave - and where are they now?
As a past presenter of Blue Peter myself, I have a unique opportunity to gain access to past and present hosts. My contacts within the production office will give me access to vital research and information, and I’ll be able to bring a flavour of what it is really like to present the most famous kids’ programme ever by asking the right questions. I know most of the presenters personally - I suppose it could be said that we are all in the same “club”. The list of interviewees already confirmed include:
Diane Louise Jordan
Gloria Hunniford and Russ Lindsay (on behalf of Caron Keating)
I hope we can persuade the other presenters not on this list to be a part of the book too.
So what will the book tell us? Well, the reader certainly wants to know more than how funny it was when the elephant crapped on the studio floor. I will approach every existing past and present presenter to give the inside story. Where that’s not possible – several past presenters are no longer with us, for instance – I will ask those closest to them to talk to me. Michael Sundin died some years ago of an AIDS related illness. It’s rumoured that he embarrassed the producers of Blue Peter when they found out he was gay, and that he was sacked for being homosexual. Is there any truth to this? I hope to find out from people who knew and worked with him. It’s of course possible that there will be presenters who won’t want to discuss their past with me, but the unique access I have to this group of people, and knowledge of the world around them, will mean that I’m able to give a full portrait of their experience, and a snapshot of their lives now, even in the absence of a first-hand account.
One of the questions I’m most keen to discuss with all the presenters is whether being totally trusted by the viewers is difficult to live with. Did they, and do they feel that their lives should be lived in a certain way?
Blue Peter is a uniquely British phenomenon – and it’s played a role in shaping hundreds of thousands of childhoods. It’s hard to pin down quite why it continues to exert such an influence. Its mixture of comforting, homely creativity, and exciting adventures into the outside world has always been a hit with kids, of course. And the boy- or girl-next-door appeal of the presenters has been carefully guarded, and well-used by the BBC. But that doesn’t quite explain the warm place it has in the heart of the nation. This book will partly be an exploration and a celebration of that – but it will also lift the lid on a set of characters who, let’s face it, the public have never really known. Never before have their stories been documented. They have never had the opportunity to talk candidly, and for an adult audience, about their association with the programme. This is their chance and it will be a riveting read for anyone who knows the show.
Please support this project, so we can document and celebrate our country's most iconic children's TV show.
Blue Peter Presenter Number 15 - Mark Curry
Mark Curry is a broadcaster and actor who has been in showbusiness since the age of seven. He played the role of the producer in Alan Parker’s classic film Bugsy Malone and featured in Last Of The Summer Wine. As a TV presenter, he has worked on The Saturday Picture Show, Screen Test, Make ‘em Laugh, Treasure Houses and Blue Peter (where he stayed for three years). He also co-presented Record Breakers in the 90’s.
His theatre work includes the Victoria Wood play Talent, a six month West End run of Woman In Black and national tours of Billy Liar, Charlie’s Aunt, Noises Off, London Suite by Neil Simon and Far From The Madding Crowd. He has appeared regularly in several Alan Ayckbourn plays, many pantomimes and played the leading role in the Ray Cooney comedy, Wife Begins At Forty, in 2011 and 2012.
Mark currently hosts the breakfast show, Curry For Breakfast, on Talk Radio Europe in southern Spain.
By Mark Curry
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