❉ In November 2017 Miwk will be publishing The Blue Peter Diaries by Richard Marson.
‘I love the way Rich writes. It’s so compelling and addictive, just makes you want to keep on reading…’ – Konnie Huq.
‘It takes you right behind the scenes. Sometimes it’s hilariously funny, sometimes really sad. If you’ve ever wanted to know more about life in TV, the highs and the lows, this is the book for you.’ – Gethin Jones.
Blue Peter is the world’s longest running children’s television programme, first airing in 1958 on the BBC. On the eve of the programme’s diamond anniversary, Richard Marson’s book offers a fascinating insight into the production and philosophy of this iconic programme.
Richard Marson became editor of Blue Peter in 2003 having already worked on the show for several years. He steered it into a multi-channel era, embracing new technologies and the internet. There were now more editions of Blue Peter than ever before, not just on BBC One but also on the new dedicated children’s digital channel CBBC.
Before joining and throughout his four years as Editor, Richard kept a diary. It details the incredible care and thought that went into the programme, not just on screen but behind the scenes as well. It is a frank, honest and occasionally frustrating account of production. Richard explains, ‘Not many people are lucky enough to work on their dream job, but that’s what Blue Peter was for me. I spent a decade of my life on the show and, as a result, had so many extraordinary experiences, as well as working with some amazing and fascinating people. I’ve kept a diary for many years but I hardly ever look back at it. It’s ten years since I left, and I thought perhaps that now was a good time to do so, to see what I remembered, and whether any of it made sense with the benefit of hindsight. It’s been quite an experience, sometimes joyous, sometimes extremely painful. Diaries are the witness, not to how things actually were, but to how you saw them at the time, and what feelings and emotions were involved.’
Given the frank nature of the diaries, Richard made sure that all of his presenters had the chance to read the book first, and their feedback was positive!
Simon Thomas presented the show from 1999 to 2005 and says, ‘Reading these diaries brought many wonderful memories flooding back, as well as telling me loads I never knew about the inside workings of Blue Peter. A heartfelt, humorous, belter of a read!’
Stuart Miles (1994-1999) had this to say about The Blue Peter Diaries, ‘This book transported me back to the studio floor, the buzz of live TV and all the behind the scenes gossip. I raced through the diaries in a couple of days and just couldn’t put them down. With hilarious honesty Richard made me laugh so much and, in the end, cry too.’
The presenters were already aware that Richard kept a diary, as Gethin Jones (2005-2008) explains, ‘After all these years, it’s amazing – and a bit surreal – to get the chance to read chunks of it. I found it fascinating. It takes you right behind the scenes. Sometimes it’s hilariously funny, sometimes really sad. If you’ve ever wanted to know more about life in TV, the highs and the lows, this is the book for you.’
The Blue Peter Diaries really does transport you into the thick of it. The pressure of live television in the studio, where things can always, and often do, go wrong, through to the logistics of filming on location, often abroad, having to deal with language barriers and conflicting customs. There are close encounters with many famous guests and the documenting of key Blue Peter events like the unearthing of the famous time capsules, the various anniversary celebrations, and the day Her Majesty the Queen visited the studio.
But at its heart, The Blue Peter Diaries documents Richard’s tireless efforts to maintain the legacy, standards and expectations of Blue Peter, often in the face of the ever changing politics of TV and against the whims and absurdities of tabloid newspapers. His passion for the programme and its history shines through the text and is illuminating and infectious.
‘I love the way Rich writes,’ says Konnie Huq (1997-2008). ‘It’s so compelling and addictive, just makes you want to keep on reading…’
‘Blue Peter is such a special programme,’ says Richard himself, ‘and I hope these diaries bring it to life in a way that’s never been done before.’
❉ The Blue Peter Diaries will be published in November 2017 and is available from Miwk Publishing. You can preorder by clicking here.
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