Thursday 22 February 2018

Everything you didn't know about former Blue Peter daredevil, John Noakes

The former presenter died aged 83 following a battle with Alzheimer’s.

By Francesca Gosling

Blue Peter action man John Noakes joined the show in 1965, going on to become the longest-serving Blue Peter presenter ever with a stint lasting 12 and a half years.

From white water rafting, free fall parachuting and submarine escape training, to a failed bid to sail around the world, here are some of the most memorable moments from the children’s show’s resident daredevil.

:: The veteran presenter fell foul to the antics of Lulu the elephant when she ran amok and trod on his foot during a live studio session in 1969. The baby elephant butted presenters and made puddles on the floor, causing John to slip up in the mess.


:: John climbed Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square to chat to the cleaners in 1977. He used ropes and wooden ladders to make the bold ascent, remarking at the top: “It’s a long way up really isn’t it?”. Peter Purves, who co-presented Blue Peter with Noakes, told the BBC following his death: “I used to go rock climbing. I loved all that stuff, but I’ll tell you something, I could not have climbed Nelson’s Column the way he did. It was a remarkable thing he did. And he just did it. And virtually no protection. It was an extraordinary thing.”

:: The presenter’s loyal sidekick was his on-show border collie Shep. The pair were inseparable, and John’s catchphrase “Get down Shep” became a regular refrain on the show as he tried to calm the excitable animal. The catchphrase inspired a single of the same name by novelty act The Barron Knights.

:: John carried out a number of parachute jumps in the late 1960s and early 1970s, entering the Guinness Book Of Records after a five mile high free fall parachute drop with the RAF Falcons. He successfully completed the jump in May 1973, becoming the first civilian in Britain to make a five mile high free fall; the first outsider to join the Falcons and the first TV presenter in Britain to talk to a camera while falling through space.


:: John recalled fancying the Princess Royal after she went on safari in Kenya in 1971. In an interview with the Radio Times to mark Blue Peter turning 50, he said: “When she came to the studio, she had beautiful eyes and nice long hair over her shoulders, and Val (co-presenter Valerie Singleton) said: ‘I think she fancies you’. “I said: ‘Yeah, and I fancy her’.”

:: To celebrate the 35th anniversary of Blue Peter, Noakes proved he still had a head for heights as he was sent up a skyscraper to examine a giant billboard featuring a picture of John and Shep, taken 20 years previously.

:: In 1982, John and his wife set off to sail around the world for a real life adventure. The couple got caught up in a wild storm off Casablanca, and were rescued from their wrecked boat by a Japanese tanker. They later decided to settle in Majorca.

:: John and other ex-presenters took part in a series of games for Blue Peter’s 40th birthday show. During a pancake tossing competition, the contents of his pan somehow disappeared into the roof space of the studio while the rest of the guests looked on bemused.

Press Association

Promoted Links

Entertainment Newsletter

Going out? Staying in? From great gigs to film reviews and listings, entertainment has you covered.

Promoted Links

Editors Choice

Also in Entertainment