A tea-time institution in British television, the BBC’s Blue Peter, is to be moved off BBC1 after more than 60 years. The much-parodied children’s show will continue on the dedicated children’s channel CBBC.
Ratings have dropped considerably as Blue Peter has been scheduled against shows and soap series aimed at adults. It now struggles to get an audience of above a quarter of a million.
A BBC spokeswoman explained the move as part of a general policy whereby children’s programming is being concentrated on the dedicated channels. "Moving them to digital channels is merely following current viewing patterns," she explained, "and reflects the fact that CBeebies and CBBC will be universally available from the end of this year."
Blue Peter launched in 1958 and became a national institution. It achieved its highest popularity in the 1970s with iconic presenters like Valerie Singleton and daredevil John Noakes with his dog Shep. Another former presenter Peter Duncan criticised the move from BBC1, believing it was marginalizing children. "Separating them from the rest of society is wrong," he said. "We should be making young people feel they are more important, not just in their own world."
Children’s programmes began to get a little brasher in the 1980s. A presenter from that era, Andy Crane, suggested that the move from BBC1 was logical, and that Blue Peter would still find an audience on CBBC.
"Kids know where their programmes are," he said. "Their fingers fly around the remote control at startling speed. It's just an acknowledgement that that particular generation are the first completely multi-channel generation. The audience won't notice at all."