Former Blue Peter host says move away from BBC1 would be ‘great shame’

A FORMER presenter of the long-running children's television programme Blue Peter has said it would be 'a great shame' if the show was moved from its BBC1 home after more than 50 years.

But Peter Purves said the move – which is reportedly being considered by BBC bosses – was a sign of the times which had seen the importance and popularity of the show diminish.

It is believed the show could be moved to digital station CBBC under plans to increase efficiency at the BBC.

Mr Purves, 72, who lives near Halesworth, presented the show between 1967 and 1978 at the height of its popularity when it drew milions of viewers.

He said: 'It is a flagship programme and it would be a great shame to see it moved.

'But it's probably to do with its audience. With the proliferation of channels, I don't think it's as accessible as it used to be. The importance to children has gone.

'Its audience has dropped extraordinarily, as it has done for most mainstream programmes, as there is so much opportunity to look elsewhere.

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'I don't watch daytime TV at all but I do think Helen Skelton (current Blue Peter host) is one of the best presenters on television.'

Mr Purves said he believed children had 'a more rounded view of the world' when there were only three channels on television.

'There is too much choice nowadays, and most of it is rubbish. Children can watch cartoons or MTV all day long, and I think that's tragic, really dreadful.

'There is still good television about. It is just so much harder to find.

'But who's to say what people should watch? Things change, and one has to put up with it.'

Television industry magazine Broadcast reported the idea was raised to end the 'children's block' of afternoon shows for younger viewers on BBC1 and instead show them exclusively on digital channels CBBC and Cbeebies.

It is believed to be one of a number of radical ideas which have been floated to reorganise viewing in a bid to make efficiency savings under the Delivering Quality First initiative.

Blue Peter is the longest-running children's programme in the world, having first aired in 1958.

It is currently broadcast twice a week at 4.30pm and presented by Andy Akinwolere, Helen Skelton and Barney Harwood.

Its number of editions was cut from three to two in 2007 and CBBC already airs repeats and spin-off shows.

A BBC spokeswoman said: 'It is important to stress that this is only one of many DQF proposals and that there are no immediate plans to remove children's content from the BBC's terrestrial channels.'

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