Blue Peter badge
A Blue Peter badge is a much coveted award for Blue Peter viewers, given by the BBC children's television programme for those appearing on the show, or in recognition of achievement. They are awarded to children aged 6 to 15, or to adults who have been guests on the programme.
The badges were introduced to the programme by editor Biddy Baxter in 1963, from an idea by Blue Peter producer Edward Barnes. Except for the "Gold" badge and the pre-2005 "Competition Winners' Badge", the badges are in the shape of a shield containing the Blue Peter ship logo, designed by Tony Hart.
The badge provides the wearer with free entry to many British attractions, particularly museums and exhibitions that are featured on the show. The programme producers suspended the privileges amid concerns about the badges being sold in March 2006, but they were reintroduced with additional security a few months later (see below).
Use by presenters
The presenters almost always wear their badges on the show - the only exception being when their apparel is incompatible (for example, a life jacket), in which case a sticker with the ship emblem is normally used instead. In addition, large prints or stickers of the ship are attached to vehicles driven by the presenters during filming assignments.
Sometimes new presenters first appear on the programme with no badge on before it is clarified to the audience that they are the new presenter. For example, Zöe Salmon appeared as a customer on the show before one week later being introduced as a presenter; Simon Groom first appeared during a filming assignment at a disco where he was a DJ; and Gethin Jones made a debut appearance disguised as Santa Claus on Zoe Salmon's first appearance.
Many presenters are awarded a more prestigious "gold badge" when they leave the show, and several former presenters have been awarded them when appearing as guests on the programme. When presenter Simon Thomas left in 2005, he was awarded a gold badge on his last programme, and this has become a tradition with Liz Barker, Matt Baker, Konnie Huq, Katy Hill, Joel Defries Andy Akinwolere and Helen Skelton also awarded gold badges on their final show. Conversely, when Richard Bacon was fired from the show for drug use, he was required to hand back his Blue Peter badge.
Valerie Singleton was awarded a gold badge during a studio interview recorded for the 1990 video release "The Best of Blue Peter, the 60's and 70's". Her fellow presenters John Noakes and Peter Purves were given gold badges on the first programme in 2000 when the time capsule for the year 2000 was dug up. Peter Duncan was presented with a gold badge in February 2007, whilst appearing on the programme as a guest.
History of badges
The badge was originally introduced in 1963, featuring the blue ship logo on a white plastic shield. This design remained unchanged until the 1990s when a revised badge featuring a raised moulding of the ship design by Tony Hart was introduced (more detailed and neater than the previous printed reproduction). This version disappeared in 1997 when the old-style badge returned.
In 2004, coinciding with the show's September revamp, a new badge design was introduced. It is slightly larger in dimension and with a much bolder printing of the new-style traditional ship without its rigging detail (though the pre-2000 style flags remain).
Over the years, several variations of badge have been introduced with specific applications, as discussed below. Various limited edition birthday badges have also been produced:
- A 25th birthday badge, introduced in October 1983.
- A 30th birthday badge, introduced in October 1988.
- A 35th birthday badge, introduced in October 1993.
- A badge to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the launch of the original badge in 1963, introduced in October 2003. This moulding was made of rubber and larger than the traditional badge; it consisted of a white shield with a raised 'bubble ship' applique.
- A 50th birthday badge, introduced in October 2008. This was a gold shield with a blue ship, with the digits "50" superimposed. It was awarded to viewers who sent in something to the programme which celebrated the 50th birthday. However this badge was not announced on the programme itself.
- The Factbyte Factory badge (a shield containing a hologram which oscillates between the Blue Peter logo and a "factbyte" logo): was introduced in early 2009, this badge was awarded to those achieving VIP Level 7 in the online Factbyte Factory game. This is achieved by collecting factbytes (interesting facts and information represented by a gold circle containing an f) from the programmes and the website. This was a limited edition badge and ended after the close of the 2009 series.
- The Sport Badge was introduced for a limited time in 2013 to try and get more children to participate in a sport (from the months of July to September - a child's usual summer holiday.) The badge is shield-shaped and made from the same material as the common Blue badge. It is a white badge with a medal shape on the front of it (the round-shaped medal which is blue, but has the white Blue Peter ship on it. The ribbon 'attached' to the medal is made from stripes of blue, white and red.) The child could earn the badge by introducing someone to a new sport, maybe a friend or a brother or sister.
Types of Blue Peter badge
- The Blue badge (a blue ship on a white shield): This is what the presenters on the show usually wear. Viewers of the programme can win one by either sending in an interesting letter, poem, picture or story, or by appearing on the programme.
- The Silver badge (a silver ship on a blue shield): This is awarded to viewers who have already won a Blue badge, for a further achievement.
- The Green badge (a white ship on a green shield): This is Blue Peter's environmental award, awarded for any correspondence from viewers with a conservation, nature or environmental theme. Presenters on the programme occasionally wear this badge instead of the blue one, as does the gardener Chris Collins, and they have been given out to those appearing on editions of the programme dedicated to environmental issues.
- The Competition Winners, or Orange badge (a white ship on an orange shield): This is given to viewers who have been either a winner or runner up in any of Blue Peter's many competitions. This replaced the original competition winners badge, which was a circular metal badge with the ship in the centre and the words "Blue Peter Competition Winner" around the outside, in 2005.
- The Purple, or Team Player's badge (a white ship on a purple shield): Introduced in September 2006, this was originally awarded to 12 children a month who won the chance to spend a day working with the Blue Peter team by having ideas for the programme. It was also awarded to the 'Purple Lady' visited by Gethin Jones on the show broadcast on Thursday 10 May 2007. From the September 2007 series, the team players scheme was changed and viewers are now awarded these badges when writing a review of an edition of the programme.
- The Gold badge (a gold-plated brooch in the shape of the ship logo): This is Blue Peter's highest award and is given for exceptional achievement, such as to people who have performed acts of extreme bravery, or represented their country in a major event. It takes the form of a gold-plated ship-shaped pin brooch. Gold badge holders include Leo Stuchbury (1993) who was awarded this badge for being the youngest ever person to complete the National Swimathon at the age of 6, Christopher Newby (2000), David Beckham, JK Rowling, Stephen Payne, Queen Elizabeth II (2001), Tom Daley (2009), David Tennant (2009), Anthony Horowitz (2011) and Sir Jonathan Ive (2013). Two dogs have also received the Gold badge: Bonnie in 1991 and Endal in 2003. It has also become tradition to present a leaving presenter with a gold badge on their final show, firstly with Simon Thomas, (see above). Former editors of the programme; Biddy Baxter and Lewis Bronze were both given the badge live on their last shows, whilst Richard Marson was awarded one after his last programme by Baxter.
As well as the badges, an "Outstanding Endeavour" award was introduced to the show in 1978. It is circular, made from brass, and bears the show's ship logo. It was presented to the programme on its 20th Anniversary show by original presenter Christopher Trace. Trace was working at a factory at the time and his colleagues made the award to be presented to a viewer who had achieved some remarkable endeavour, such as saving a life or overcoming a particular adversity. It was rarely presented, typically only once a year on the show's anniversary, and has not been awarded since the late 1980s.
Badges for sale
In March 2006 the news that Blue Peter badges were available for sale on auction websites such as eBay attracted a great deal of media interest, with the suspicion that the right to free entry was being abused. In a leader article The Times described the news as "a knife to the national psyche", while The Sun launched a campaign in which readers could "send in the names of people they know who have an illegal Blue Peter badge".
After news of the sales reached a wide audience, the number of badges for sale on eBay exploded from a few dozen to 300. eBay said that it would remove any auctions proven to involve fake badges on the grounds of copyright infringement, but that trade in real badges was not illegal and would not be halted by eBay administrators.
On 29 March 2006 the decision was made to withdraw the privileges the badges offered until measures could be put in place to stop the badges being sold for commercial gain, with the show appealing to the public for ideas. Accompanying the statement of suspensions the show's editor Richard Marson said Blue Peter wished to "protect children who have earned their badges and who are feeling very let down by this cynical trade."
Blue Peter badges were re-introduced on 19 June 2006, under a new system in which all current holders of a Blue Peter badge and those who win a badge will also need to be issued with a photo ID card. The idea was thought up by 11-year old Blue Peter viewer and Blue badge winner Helen Jennings, who even included a prototype design of the ID card in the letter that she sent to the show. The producers awarded Helen with a Silver badge for proposing the system. ID cards for previous badge winners aged 6 to 15 can be obtained by entering details into a form on the Blue Peter website.
- "Get a Badge". CBBC - Blue Peter Central. BBC.co.uk. Retrieved 15 February 2009.
- Carter, Claire (24 May 2013). "Richard Bacon tells of being forced to hand back Blue Peter badge". The Telegraph. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
- "About the badges". CBBC - Blue Peter Central. BBC. Retrieved 15 February 2009.
- "Sir Jonathan Ive honoured with exclusive gold Blue Peter Badge". BBC.co.uk. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
- The Times, 27 March 2006
- The Times, 30 March 2006
- BBC News report
- "BBC relaunches Blue Peter badges". BBC News. 19 June 2006. Retrieved 15 February 2009.
- "Badge Card Application Form". CBBC - Blue Peter Central. BBC. Retrieved 15 February 2009.