Blue Peter Special Assignment

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Blue Peter Special Assignment
Genre Children's Documentary
Created by Edward Barnes
Written by Edward Barnes
Dorothy Smith
Directed by Edward Barnes
Daniel Wolf
David Brown
Harry Cowdy
Peter Ridsdale Scott
Dorothea Brooking
Sarah Hellings
Hugh David
David Turnbull
Alex Leger
David Hargreaves
Presented by Lesley Judd
Peter Purves,
Valerie Singleton
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes 39
Production
Executive producer(s) Biddy Baxter
Producer(s) Edward Barnes
Location(s) Various
Running time 25 minutes
Release
Original network BBC1
Original release 7 January 1973 (1973-01-07) – 7 June 1981 (1981-06-07)

Blue Peter Special Assignment was a factual BBC TV series broadcast in the 1970s and early 1980s, the first spin-off from the long running BBC series Blue Peter. It ran regularly from 1973 until 1981, usually at weekends on BBC1, and was heavily promoted on Blue Peter itself. The concept for the series was developed after Valerie Singleton had made a successful documentary 'special' with HRH Princess Anne when she had visited Kenya in 1971. The Special Assignment series was mainly produced by Edward Barnes and presented initially by Valerie Singleton and later by Peter Purves and Lesley Judd both of whom had been presenters on Blue Peter itself.

Series One featured Valerie Singleton looking at six European Capital Cities. These included Rome, Paris, London, Edinburgh, Amsterdam and Brussels. The first programme to be filmed was the one featuring Rome and included a personal address to the children of Britain from Pope Paul VI in The Vatican.

Series Two continued to feature Singleton looking at European Cities and included Dublin, York and Madrid. Later series looked at Islands and included The Isle of Wight, The Isle of Man, Hong Kong, Malta and Venice, even though Venice had also featured in an earlier series as a 'city'. Later the show began to look at famous houses or famous individuals and included biographies of Vivaldi, The Brontë Sisters, The Duke of Wellington, Saint Therese of Lisieux, Marie Antoinette and Rudyard Kipling and both Lesley Judd and Peter Purves began presenting the series in place of Singleton.

The series in 1977 was presented jointly by Peter Purves and Lesley Judd, with the theme of 'twin towns'.

The final series was co-presented alternately by Singleton and Peter Purves, being broadcast in 1981. The series theme was Rivers, with Singleton examining The Yukon and Niagara, while Purves reported on The Tamar, The Tweed and The Singapore Rivers.

Spin off books were published covering the first two series.

Episodes[edit]

Blue Peter Royal Safari[edit]

Total
#
Series
#
Title Director Writer(s) Original airdate
1 1 "Blue Peter Royal Safari" Edward Barnes Biddy Baxter (Narrator) Sunday, 11 April 1971 at 5:25pm on BBC1 (Sunday, 11 April 1971 at 5:25pm on BBC1)
The first solo television film for HRH Princess Anne with Valerie Singleton. Produced by Biddy Baxter & Edward Barnes.

Repeated Monday, 7 June 1971 at 7:20pm and Monday, 3 April 1972 at 5:00pm on BBC1.

Series 1: European Capitals[edit]

Valerie Singleton reports on six capital cities of Europe. Produced by Edward Barnes.

Total
#
Series
#
Title Director Writer(s) Original airdate
1 1 "Rome" Edward Barnes Edward Barnes Sunday, 7 January 1973 at 2:55pm on BBC1 (Sunday, 7 January 1973 at 2:55pm on BBC1)
Valerie meets Pope Paul VI.
2 2 "Amsterdam" David Brown Edward Barnes Sunday, 14 January 1973 at 3:00pm on BBC1 (Sunday, 14 January 1973 at 3:00pm on BBC1)
Valerie tells the story of Anne Frank.
3 3 "The City of London" Peter Ridsdale Scott Edward Barnes Sunday, 21 January 1973 at 3:00pm on BBC1 (Sunday, 21 January 1973 at 3:00pm on BBC1)
Valerie meets the Lord Mayor of London.
4 4 "Paris" David Brown Edward Barnes Sunday, 28 January 1973 at 3:00pm on BBC1 (Sunday, 28 January 1973 at 3:00pm on BBC1)
Valerie celebrates Bastille Day.
5 5 "Edinburgh" David Brown Edward Barnes Sunday, 4 February 1973 at 3:00pm on BBC1 (Sunday, 4 February 1973 at 3:00pm on BBC1)
Valerie tells the story of Grey-Friars Bobby.
6 6 "Vienna" David Turnbull Edward Barnes Sunday, 11 February 1973 at 3:05pm on BBC1 (Sunday, 11 February 1973 at 3:05pm on BBC1)
Valerie meets the Vienna Boys Choir.

The series was repeated on BBC1 in November/December 1973 with the broadcast order changed to: Rome, Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Paris, City of London, Vienna.

Series 2: European Cities[edit]

Valerie Singleton reports on five European cities. Produced by Edward Barnes.

Total
#
Series
#
Title Director Writer(s) Original airdate
7 1 "Venice" Edward Barnes Edward Barnes Sunday, 31 March 1974 at 5:25pm on BBC1 (Sunday, 31 March 1974 at 5:25pm on BBC1)
Valerie tells the story of the Most Serene Republic of Venice.
8 2 "Brussels" David Brown Edward Barnes Sunday, 7 April 1974 at 5:25pm on BBC1 (Sunday, 7 April 1974 at 5:25pm on BBC1)
Valerie finds out why Napoleon lost the Battle of Waterloo.
9 3 "Dublin" Harry Cowdy Edward Barnes Sunday, 14 April 1974 at 5:25pm on BBC1 (Sunday, 14 April 1974 at 5:25pm on BBC1)
Valerie tells the story of the Easter Rising.
10 4 "Madrid" Peter Smith Edward Barnes Sunday, 21 April 1974 at 5:25pm on BBC1 (Sunday, 21 April 1974 at 5:25pm on BBC1)
Valerie discovers what Flamenco is about.
11 5 "York" David Brown Edward Barnes Sunday, 28 April 1974 at 5:25pm on BBC1 (Sunday, 28 April 1974 at 5:25pm on BBC1)
Valerie looks at Easter Eggs and Stained Glass.

Series 3: Islands[edit]

Valerie Singleton reports on six islands. Produced by Edward Barnes.

Total
#
Series
#
Title Director Writer(s) Original airdate
12 1 "Hong Kong" Edward Barnes Edward Barnes Sunday, 9 March 1975 at 4:55pm on BBC1 (Sunday, 9 March 1975 at 4:55pm on BBC1)
Valerie visits the water people.
13 2 "The Isle of Skye" Daniel Wolf Edward Barnes Sunday, 16 March 1975 at 4:55pm on BBC1 (Sunday, 16 March 1975 at 4:55pm on BBC1)
Valerie follows the trail of Flora MacDonald & Bonnie Prince Charlie.
14 3 "Malta GC" Harry Cowdy Edward Barnes Sunday, 23 March 1975 at 4:55pm on BBC1 (Sunday, 23 March 1975 at 4:55pm on BBC1)
Valerie celebrates the village festival of St Nicholas of Siggiewi.
15 4 "The Isle of Wight" Sarah Hellings Edward Barnes Sunday, 30 March 1975 at 4:10pm on BBC1 (Sunday, 30 March 1975 at 4:10pm on BBC1)
Valerie tells the story of Osborne House.
16 5 "The Isle of Man" David Brown Edward Barnes Sunday, 6 April 1975 at 4:55pm on BBC1 (Sunday, 6 April 1975 at 4:55pm on BBC1)
Valerie tries her hand at the TT races.
17 6 "Venice" Edward Barnes Edward Barnes Sunday, 13 April 1975 at 4:55pm on BBC1 (Sunday, 13 April 1975 at 4:55pm on BBC1)
In a revised repeat, Valerie tells the story of the Most Serene Republic of Venice.

A repeat season was broadcast in October 1975 on BBC1, featuring the following episodes:

  • Hong Kong (3 October 1975)
  • Brussels (10 October 1975)
  • York (17 October 1975)
  • Madrid (24 October 1975)
  • Amsterdam (31 October 1975)

Series 4: Great Houses[edit]

Great names of history whose houses still exist. Produced by Edward Barnes.

Total
#
Series
#
Title Director Writer(s) Original airdate
18 1 "The Prince Regent at Brighton" Sarah Hellings Dorothy Smith Sunday, 23 May 1976 at 3:40pm on BBC1 (Sunday, 23 May 1976 at 3:40pm on BBC1)
Valerie Singleton provides a link with the past.
19 2 "Disraeli at Hughenden" Daniel Wolf Dorothy Smith Sunday, 30 May 1976 at 4:30pm on BBC1 (Sunday, 30 May 1976 at 4:30pm on BBC1)
Valerie Singleton visits an English great house with Alan Badel as the voice of Disraeli.
20 3 "Pavlova at Ivy House" Edward Barnes Dorothy Smith Sunday, 6 June 1976 at 4:55pm on BBC1 (Sunday, 6 June 1976 at 4:55pm on BBC1)
Lesley Judd visits the home of the legendary ballerina.
21 4 "Darwin at Down House" Daniel Wolf Dorothy Smith Sunday, 13 June 1976 at 4:55pm on BBC1 (Sunday, 13 June 1976 at 4:55pm on BBC1)
Valerie Singleton with Michael Hordern as the voice of Charles Darwin.
22 5 "Keats at Wentworth Place" Harry Cowdy Dorothy Smith Sunday, 20 June 1976 at 4:55pm on BBC1 (Sunday, 20 June 1976 at 4:55pm on BBC1)
Valerie Singleton with Ronald Pickup as the voice of John Keats.
23 6 "Raleigh at Sherborne Castle" Sarah Hellings Dorothy Smith Sunday, 27 June 1976 at 4:55pm on BBC1 (Sunday, 27 June 1976 at 4:55pm on BBC1)
Valerie Singleton with Richard Pasco as the voice of Sir Walter Raleigh and the voices of John Nettleton and Jonathan Scott.

Series 5: Twin Towns[edit]

Peter Purves and Lesley Judd visit five different sets of twin towns. Produced by Edward Barnes.

Total
#
Series
#
Title Director Writer(s) Original airdate
24 1 "Richmond & Fontainebleau" Daniel Wolf Edward Barnes Sunday, 19 June 1977 at 5:55pm on BBC1 (Sunday, 19 June 1977 at 5:55pm on BBC1)
Lesley Judd in Fontainebleau and Peter Purves in Richmond, Surrey.
25 2 "Coventry & Warsaw" Sarah Hellings Edward Barnes Sunday, 26 June 1977 at 6:00pm on BBC1 (Sunday, 26 June 1977 at 6:00pm on BBC1)
Peter Purves in Warsaw and Lesley Judd in Coventry.
26 3 "Cambridge & Heidelberg" Edward Barnes Edward Barnes Sunday, 3 July 1977 at 6:00pm on BBC1 (Sunday, 3 July 1977 at 6:00pm on BBC1)
Lesley Judd in Cambridge and Peter Purves in Heidelberg.
27 4 "Bristol & Bordeaux" Sarah Hellings Edward Barnes Sunday, 10 July 1977 at 6:00pm on BBC1 (Sunday, 10 July 1977 at 6:00pm on BBC1)
Lesley Judd in Bordeaux and Peter Purves in Bristol.
28 5 "Portsmouth & Haifa" Daniel Wolf Edward Barnes Sunday, 17 July 1977 at 6:00pm on BBC1 (Sunday, 17 July 1977 at 6:00pm on BBC1)
Peter Purves in Portsmouth and Lesley Judd in Haifa.

Series 6: Biographies[edit]

Peter Purves investigates dramatic settings for the lives of six great personalities from Italy, France and England. Produced by Edward Barnes.

Total
#
Series
#
Title Director Writer(s) Original airdate
29 1 "Marie Antoinette at Versailles" Hugh David Dorothy Smith Sunday, 7 January 1979 at 4:40pm on BBC1 (Sunday, 7 January 1979 at 4:40pm on BBC1)
Peter Purves with the voices of Mary Wimbush, Geoffrey Matthews and John Gabriel.
30 2 "Rudyard Kipling at Bateman's" Sarah Hellings Dorothy Smith Sunday, 14 January 1979 at 4:40pm on BBC1 (Sunday, 14 January 1979 at 4:40pm on BBC1)
Peter Purves with the voices of Nicolette McKenzie and John Nettleton.
31 3 "Saint Therese of Lisieux" Sarah Hellings Dorothy Smith Sunday, 21 January 1979 at 4:35pm on BBC1 (Sunday, 21 January 1979 at 4:35pm on BBC1)
Peter Purves looks at the life of ‘The Little Flower’.
32 4 "The Duke of Wellington at Stratford Saye" Hugh David Dorothy Smith Sunday, 28 January 1979 at 4:40pm on BBC1 (Sunday, 28 January 1979 at 4:40pm on BBC1)
Peter Purves looks at the Duke of Wellington’s home life.
33 5 "The Brontes at Haworth" Dorothea Brooking Dorothy Smith Sunday, 4 February 1979 at 4:40pm on BBC1 (Sunday, 4 February 1979 at 4:40pm on BBC1)
Peter Purves follows the footsteps of the Bronte family.
34 6 "Antonio Vivaldi in Venice" Sarah Hellings Dorothy Smith Sunday, 11 February 1979 at 4:40pm on BBC1 (Sunday, 11 February 1979 at 4:40pm on BBC1)
Peter Purves meets the girls of the Venice Conservatorio Orchestra with the voices Sean Barrett, John Nettleton, John Rowe and Geoffrey Matthews as Vivaldi.

Series 7: Rivers[edit]

A series of five programmes produced by Edward Barnes.

Total
#
Series
#
Title Director Writer(s) Original airdate
35 1 "The Niagara River" David Turnbull Dorothy Smith Sunday, 10 May 1981 at 4:55pm on BBC1 (Sunday, 10 May 1981 at 4:55pm on BBC1)
Valerie Singleton discovers the comic and the tragic stories of one of the world's greatest natural wonders - the Niagara Falls.
36 2 "The River Tweed" Sarah Hellings Dorothy Smith Sunday, 17 May 1981 at 4:55pm on BBC1 (Sunday, 17 May 1981 at 4:55pm on BBC1)
Peter Purves travels the length of the Tweed on the border of Scotland and England.
37 3 "The Yukon River" David Hargreaves Dorothy Smith Sunday, 24 May 1981 at 4:55pm on BBC1 (Sunday, 24 May 1981 at 4:55pm on BBC1)
Valerie Singleton travels 500 miles down the Yukon.
38 4 "The Singapore River" Sarah Hellings Dorothy Smith Sunday, 31 May 1981 at 4:55pm on BBC1 (Sunday, 31 May 1981 at 4:55pm on BBC1)
Peter Purves explores the Singapore River.
39 5 "The River Tamar" Alex Leger Dorothy Smith Sunday, 7 June 1981 at 4:50pm on BBC1 (Sunday, 7 June 1981 at 4:50pm on BBC1)
Peter Purves visits a river that has a special place in the lives of people in Devon and Cornwall. Executive Producer: David Hargreaves.

External links[edit]