A big “how’re you doing?”

Wednesday, June 7, 2006 by

There’s a comment on OTT’s Growing Up With The Telly feature about Peter Purves’ departure from Blue Peter being, “as though your parents were suddenly getting divorced”. It’s a perceptive point, because editor Biddy Baxter always said that BP should be “a rock” in its viewers’ lives, always there no matter what was going on elsewhere. That’s why the departure of Matt Baker is so notable.

Matt was in tears making this announcement on the programme, which illustrates how much being a BP host means to him. It was a genuinely touching moment that emphasises his charm. If he’s not the best presenter this show’s ever had, he’s certainly in the top five, such is his warmth, likeability and respect for the audience – the sort of qualities the programme itself, at its best, also thrives upon.

It’s this absolute respect for the audience that sets Blue Peter apart from 99% of adult TV, let alone children’s TV. Everyone sniggers at the departure of Richard Bacon, and Lorraine Heggessey’s on-screen announcement, but people forget that the following show saw the team address the issue on air and give him a proper send-off, and since then he’s been shown in clips as any other former presenter would. Compare this to something like The Big Breakfast or SM:TV Live, where departing presenters would just get chucked out of the back door and never referred to again, no matter how ridiculous it looked.

So maybe it’s been pompous and safe at times, but that fact remains that there are few shows as adept as Blue Peterat knowing and caring about its audience. And few hosts were as adept at it as Matt Baker. Still, there’s a vacancy on Saturday mornings, isn’t there?


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