Lesley Judd

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Lesley Judd (born 20 December 1946) is an English dancer and TV presenter, best known as a long-serving host of the BBC children's programme Blue Peter.

Lesley Judd
Born (1946-12-20) 20 December 1946 (age 67)
London
Years active 1972–1988
Spouse(s) Derek Fowlds (1974 – divorced 1978)
Terry Gabell (1979 – divorced)

Background[edit]

Born in London, Judd was educated at the independent Arts Educational School, Tring.

Early career[edit]

Judd appeared as part of the dance troupe the Young Generation on several TV shows, but walked out in breach of her contract. When offered the role as a BBC presenter soon after, the BBC contracts department were furious that she was being hired by the corporation once again and insisted the contract was 'watertight'.[1] She had small roles in the first Monty Python film, And Now For Something Completely Different (1971) and the filmed musical Half A Sixpence (1967). Judd made a brief return to dancing in 1976 when she joined Pan's People on Top Of The Pops for a one-off routine (The rehearsals were later shown on Blue Peter) and often danced on the BBC Christmas show All Star Record Breakers.

Blue Peter[edit]

Brought in to the show when Valerie Singleton began to diversify her television career in 1971, Judd initially presented with Singleton and John Noakes and Peter Purves, the partnership with Noakes and Purves lasting until 1978, the show's longest-running line-up.[1] Judd's tenure on Blue Peter was often in doubt, she was retained for most of her seven years on the show on short term 3 month contracts. When her marriage broke down in 1975 and her ex-husband threatened to 'tell all' to the tabloid press, Sally James was lined up to replace her on Blue Peter, but the storm blew over and Judd remained with the show.[1]

During her time on the show she was criticised in the UK press for divorcing her first husband, actor Derek Fowlds (former 'straight' man to TV puppet Basil Brush), and married a Blue Peter film editor Terry Gabell. It was her second husband's multiple sclerosis which caused her to leave Blue Peter in 1979. After divorcing him she married the then drummer Anthony Relph, with whom she had son Henry, and adopted a daughter Marta. Relph died of a lung embolism at 48, by which time Lesley had moved to a farmhouse near Cahors in France with retired radio station manager Peter Thornton. He died of heart disease in 2002.

During her time on Blue Peter Judd also presented the spin-off series Blue Peter Special Assignment.

Subsequent career[edit]

After leaving Blue Peter, Judd fronted a children's TV 'chat' show, In The Limelight With Lesley, on BBC1, along the same lines as an earlier series with Valerie Singleton. One of her guests was British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher who was asked to comment on an earlier appearance in Val Meets The VIPS in which she had said there would not be "a woman Prime Minister in my lifetime".[2] Another guest was the reigning Miss World Gina Swainson. Judd appeared with Billy Boyle on an ITV series for children, Dance Crazy, tracing the history of dance and was a regular panellist on game shows such as Punchlines. She later featured as 'The Mole' in the educational game show The Adventure Game, and was co-presenter of both the technology game show The Great Egg Race, the computer-related Micro Live (1983) and Pets In Particular (1986).

She was also one of the presenters of Woman's Hour on BBC Radio 4 from 1982 to 1988, and appeared as a television newsreader in the film Threads (1984). Judd was a presenter on the London radio station LBC during the late 1980s, later co-hosting with Steve Allen, at the same time presenting various programmes on television for the Open University. In 1992, Judd also presented a daytime interview programme on UK Channel 4, Time To Talk. Each programme consisted of an interview with one celebrity guest. Valerie Singleton, David Kossoff, Diana Moran, Jonathon Porritt and Don Maclean were among the interviewees.

Post-presenting career[edit]

Now living in France near Toulouse, she is employed as a conference organiser. Although asked on several occasions to take part in Blue Peter reunions, Judd has generally declined, feeling that her television career was no longer a part of her life. However, she appeared on Blue Peter's 35th birthday programme in 1993 and the 50th birthday commemorations in 2008. The latter entailed an appearance on ITV's This Morning, where she received a 'make over' ahead of joining other former presenters at Buckingham Palace at a party hosted by The Queen.[3] Judd then joined other female former presenters of the show in a photo shoot for the Mail on Sunday newspaper, celebrating fifty years of Blue Peter and was interviewed for a documentary about the show on BBC One.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Blue Peter" 50th Anniversary Book: The Story of Television's Longest-running Children's Programme. Hamlyn ISBN 978-0-600-61793-8
  2. ^ For the earlier programme see Val Meets... Margaret Thatcher, 7 March 1973 (BBC iPlayer)
  3. '^ Daily Mail coverage of Blue Peters 50th anniversary celebration
Preceded by
Valerie Singleton
Blue Peter Presenter No. 7
1972-79
Succeeded by
Tina Heath

External links[edit]