12 October 2017
6 Blue Peter moments we made earlier
Fifty years ago, the very first Blue Peter lifeboats went to their new homes. As this much-loved children’s TV show turns 60 this month, we delve into the RNLI archives to celebrate half a century of flying the flag together.
1. Paperback boats on station | 1967
Inspired by a storm force 10 warning on the radio as she drives to the studio, Valerie Singleton suggests the RNLI for the next Blue Peter appeal. With John Noakes groaning at the all-weather price tag (£4,000) the RNLI recommends an inshore rescue boat instead (£650). Since 1963 this new, agile craft has been rescuing beachgoers and boaters close to shore. Eager viewers fund four of them after donating old paperbacks by the ton, and an enduring partnership is born.
2. Paddington to the rescue? | 1968
More at home flooding the bathroom than braving the ocean wave, Paddington finds himself rescued by a lifeboat in a special story by Michael Bond for the 1968 Blue Peter annual. After mistaking a demo exercise for someone in trouble, Paddington swims to the lifeboat crew’s aid, only to be dragged under by his duffle coat. Valerie updates the Blue Peter lifeboat’s rescue tally to: ‘Fourteen people, one dog, one bear … and one bear’s hat!’
3. Going global | 1970
Lifeboat volunteers Roy Cole and Johnny Pelham come into the studio to talk about helping in the East Pakistan floods. Already familiar with the D class Blue Peter I at their home station in Littlehampton, Roy and Johnny help the British Red Cross to use these boats in their rescue efforts following cyclone Bhola. The team are the first British relief workers to reach the disaster area.
4. Outstanding courage | 1973 | 1978 | 2004 | 2005
There’s not much that tops a gold Blue Peter badge for prestige, but on four occasions Blue Peter crews (at St Agnes, North Berwick and Cleethorpes) have earned RNLI gallantry medals for outstanding bravery. In 1978 St Agnes Helm Peter David Bliss (pictured second left, next to John Noakes) is awarded the Silver Medal. He leads the rescue of an injured surf lifesaver trapped at the base of cliffs, taking the lifeboat through a very narrow channel in heavy 4m surf.
5. Ready for all weathers | 1994
The appeals have come a long way since the 1960s. Following the 1993 Pieces of Eight appeal the first all-weather lifeboat funded by viewers, Trent class Blue Peter VII, goes on service at Fishguard.
6. Joint anniversary celebrations | 2017
Lindsey Russell becomes the latest presenter to don the yellows and head out to sea with Beaumaris volunteers, as part of the show’s 60th anniversary series. Beaumaris was one of the first stations to receive a Blue Peter lifeboat, 50 years ago. Lindsey tweets: ‘One of THE best shoots I’ve done on #bluepeter in ages. Guy, Will and Connor you are all legends. @RNLI crews are actual superheroes.’
Where have Blue Peter lifeboats served?
Over the years, viewers funded 28 lifeboats at 7 different stations, with replacement craft taking on their predecessors' names.
Blue Peter I - Littlehampton
Blue Peter II - Beaumaris
Blue Peter III - North Berwick
Blue Peter IV - St Agnes
Blue Peter V – Portaferry*
Blue Peter VI - Cleethorpes
Blue Peter VII – Fishguard*
*You’ll still find Blue Peter lifeboats at these stations today.