Friday, 3 January 2014


Border Collie SHEP was probably BLUE PETER's most famous
pet in a long and varied line.  Not only was he and his 'master', JOHN
NOAKES, regarded as one of the nation's finest double acts (of a sort),
they also inspired a hit song by the BARRON KNIGHTS based on
Noakes continual admonitions of "Get down, Shep!"

John Noakes departed Blue Peter in 1978 after almost 12 and a
half years, and Shep was 'retired' from the show at the same time.
Their association continued for another two years in the programme
GO WITH NOAKES (which had started in 1976) and, according to
some histories, John and Shep lived together happily ever after
until Shep passed away in 1987.

Except that's not what happened.  Shep belonged to the BBC,
not John Noakes, although the Corporation was prepared to make a
gift of the dog to John on the undertaking that he didn't use the pet for
commercial purposes such as advertising.  (The Collie who appeared
with John in adverts for dog food in 1978 was a 'ringer' called SKIP.)
Also, the allowance which the BBC paid to John for looking after
the dog would be discontinued.

John Noakes apparently later claimed that Editor BIDDY
BAXTER wouldn't allow him to keep the dog;  Biddy Baxter, on the
other hand, claimed that once John found he couldn't financially profit
from exploiting his canine chum in the lucrative world of advertising
and would no longer receive his regular allowance for the dog's
upkeep, he didn't want to know.

The dog was cared for by EDITH MENEZES, the official
Blue Peter pet keeper, who also 'looked after' PETRA (one of Shep's
predecessors) and a variety of other animals from the BP menagerie.
I've been unable to determine with whom Shep resided between 1978
and '80, but he stayed with Edith for the rest of his life from 1980 to
'87.  (John revealed the dog's death while appearing on TV two or
three days later and shed a few tears.)

So, sadly, despite the legend, John and Shep didn't walk off
into the sunset together like ANDREW GLENN & BLACK BOB.
Shep stayed in Britain with Edith, while John and his wife moved to
Malta in 1984, where I believe they yet reside to this day.

Not quite the happy ending I would've wished for, or
that some sources would have us believe.  Sad, eh?


Arfon Jones said...

Bless ‘em. Since they moved the Blue Peter garden to Salford John and Shep’s impressions can now be seen (along with Percy Thrower, Lesley Judd, Simon Groom Goldie, Jack and Jill and Freda the tortoise!) publicly and for free! Well worth a visit! Oh, happy new year to you sir!

Kid said...

And a Happy new Year to you, too, sir. Your BP badge is in the post.

Ken Garrett said...

Petra, the mongrel who was a Blue a Peter dog from 1962-1977, lived happily with Peter Purves for her last six years of life. Again a bit of Blue Peter sleight of hand here when years later it was revealed that Petra had replaced a pup Petra mark 1 who died of distemper after two weeks of debuting on the show.

It was also rumoured that Valerie Singleton was in fact an android planted by Lord Grade to infiltrate Television Centre in West London. For what purpose nobody knows.

Not so sure about the Ms Singleton rumour but as always scratch just below the surface of most of most 60s TV programmes...


Arfon Jones said...

That would be nice, despite several attempts I never got one...the wife did though (grumble)

Kid said...

I do wonder 'though, Ken, If that was only because Peter was still a BP presenter, not leaving the show until March '78 (Petra died in September '77). The last time that Petra appeared on TV, she was filmed in Edith Menezes garden, and it was Edith who arranged for the dog to be put to sleep.

Incidentally, the first Petra died only two DAYS after appearing on the show, and I can confirm that Val Singleton IS an android because she had to recharge herself from the mains every 24 hours. (The tortoise told me, so it must be true.)


And you're wanting another one, Arfon? That's just being greedy. Hold on a mo' 'though - it was a 'no-prize' BP badge, so no problem.

DeadSpiderEye said...

Very interesting tale, Shep was the star as far as I'm concerned.

Kid said...

Maybe John knew it too, DSE. Perhaps that's why he was always telling Shep to "get down" - he didn't want him stealing the limelight.

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