Iconic BBC children’s TV series facing huge shake-up as live shows could be scrapped

Iconic BBC children’s TV series facing huge shake-up as live shows could be scrapped

Blue Peter is the longest-running children’s series (Picture: PA)

Iconic TV show Blue Peter could be facing major changes.

The longest-running children’s series currently airs every Friday at 5pm on CBBC with hosts Abby Cook, Joel Mawhinney, and Shini Muthukrishnan, but the live element isn’t guaranteed in the future, and presenters could change as BBC has invited producers to submit applications to refresh the series.

Blue Peter was originally introduced in 1958 to fill a gap in the market for shows targeted at those aged between five and eight. It began as a 15-minute black and white show with the late actor Christopher Trace, and winner of Miss Great Britain Leila Williams, at the helm.

Over the years, it developed to become a staple show for many youngsters, who were often desperate to get their hands on the elusive badges. They added more educational segments, reports outside of the studio and extended it from 15 to 30 minutes.

The show has also launched the careers of many presenters including Helen Skelton, Konnie Huq, Gethin Jones, and Richard Bacon.

It has provided memorable moments throughout its life – including a visit from King Charles, Lulu the elephant arriving in the studio then leaving an unsavory souvenir, and Diane-Louise Jordan using the internet on air, which was revolutionary at the time (1995). She used her moment to update the Blue Peter website and email then US President, Bill Clinton.

Blue Peter celebrated its 65th Birthday last year (Picture: BBC Studios/Kerry Spicer)

At its best, Blue Peter attracted eight million viewers, but the most recent show had just 37,700 people tuning in.

The exciting opportunity to tender the series was posted on the BBC website and encouraged applicants to come up with new and exciting ideas while respecting the show’s history.

‘Whilst we wish to protect the Blue Peter legacy, this tender is an opportunity to consider what Blue Peter represents in the current multi-platform, multi-device space and how the Blue Peter brand might interface with the lives of our modern, evolving young audiences who have a very different relationship with media consumption than when the show started,’ the invitation to tender begins.

Blue Peter with former presenters Simon Groom, Sarah Greene and Peter Duncan in 198 (Picture: Don Smith/Radio Times/Getty Images)

‘The format has hardly changed in those sixty-six years, so we are looking for proposals that not only capitalise on the strengths of the Blue Peter brand but that also demonstrate creative ways to think differently including suggestions for supporting the necessary drive to digital.’

They added that while this is a current mix of live and studio records there is ‘no requirement’ to continue with that model. The BBC is also open to switching up the presenters.

‘Blue Peter presenters are particularly iconic and we all have our own favourites. We have had an evolving roster of presenters over the years which has served the format well,’ it explained.

‘The current three presenters are all relatable to the audience and well-liked. We are open to suggestions for refreshing presenters on a regular basis to capitalise on modern consumption patterns.’

Blue Peter has launched the careers of many presenters (Picture: BBC)

Former host Peter Duncan (1985-1986) doesn’t think it would work, especially due to the show’s pet, Henry the dog.

‘I can’t see how that’s going to work,’ he stated.

‘They’re selling a brand of which all the people like me and the other presenters have been a part of and how do you keep a pet if you have a different presenter each week?’

The deadline for submissions closed last month, with the BBC now likely considering the applications.

A BBC spokesperson told Metro.co.uk: ‘The tender is a procedural document and to draw anything further from it is total speculation. Blue Peter has a bright future.’

In 2023, there were reports the series would be axed after three presenters all left within 14 months, but the BBC shared that isn’t in their plan.

‘The future for Blue Peter is bright, there are categorically no plans to stop it. The programme continues to be enjoyed by audiences on the CBBC channel and iPlayer,’ a BBC spokesperson told us at the time.

Blue Peter airs at 5pm on CBBC every Friday

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