ENTERTAINMENT

Where were you when … John Noakes from Blue Peter met Shep on September 16, 1971


Where were you when … John Noakes from Blue Peter met Shep on September 16, 1971

How does a TV show reach the audience? Especially when this viewer is a child – the most demanding and easily distracted audience ever. The program just has to speak to them – and make them feel special. There may be an adult in the room, but the successful children's show must reflect their curiosity, sense of fun, and hopes for the future without judgment or irony. When you add animals to the mix, they have to be loyal and messy, lovable, and unpredictable – just like real pets (and children, come along). And you need to make sure you connect them to an owner who is all of that and more.

John Noakes and Shep were both enthusiastic when something went wrong and always cheered the outsider – appropriately –

Blue Peter did the mix just right and the result was magical. From their first appearance together in September 1971, John Noakes and Shep were the perfect double strike. John's young enthusiasm was easily exceeded by his Border Collie's appetite for life – as the familiar catchphrase shows: "Down, Shep!" The two could be very naughty. They both loved it when something went wrong and – appropriately – always cheered on the outsider. The questioning of authority and rules that made John so observable, so funny, and so influential was repeated in the behavior of his devoted pet. And Shep was his pet – don't make a mistake. No, just "only in front of the camera, then with a handler". It was a real 24-hour relationship with this coveted quality: chemistry.

Like the best partnerships, they knew each other well and loved each other's work. Live TV can be messy, but nothing worried these two, and because they felt so comfortable, we were able to relax. Not all dogs go to the studio. Hardly any moderator lives on in so many memories. I can see them playfully and unforgettable in countless joyful shots, but most of all I hold them in my heart.

Actor Martin Freeman

Actor Martin Freeman

This month too …

  • Actor Martin Freeman, right (Sherlock, The Hobbit) was born.
  • John Lennon started his life in New York, never to return to the UK.
  • Show jumper Harvey Smith was released from an offensive gesture in Hickstead after using the V-mark.
  • Lord Snowdon was fined £ 20 for driving carelessly when his car collided with a photographer and Princess Margaret and her two children.
  • The Old Gray Whistle Test Music show made its debut on BBC2.

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