Lesley Judd

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Lesley Judd (born 20 December 1946) is an English dancer and television 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 70)
Years active 1962–1988
Spouse(s) Derek Fowlds (1974 – divorced 1978)
Terry Gabell (1979 – divorced)
Anthony Relph
Peter Thornton (????-2002 – his death)
Children Henry Relph, Marta Relph (adopted)


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

Early career[edit]

One of Judd's earliest appearances was as a child actor, playing a schoolgirl in the Z-Cars episode "Person Unknown" on 14 November 1962.[1] Earlier in 1959, she appeared in the BBCtv adaptation of Heidi, playing the part of Clara.[2] One of her earliest dancing appearances came on BBCtv's The Language of Love in 1964.[3] In 1967, Judd was one of the 'children' dancers on Gillian Lynne's BBC2 show Hey Riddle Diddle starring Roy Castle and Nelson Riddle.[4] Beginning in 1967 with The Rolf Harris Show, Judd appeared as part of the dance troupe The Young Generation on several television 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'.[5] She had small roles in the filmed musical Half a Sixpence (1967), the first Monty Python film And Now for Something Completely Different (1971), and the Christopher Lee horror film I, Monster (1971). 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, John Noakes and Peter Purves, the partnership with Noakes and Purves lasting until 1978, the show's longest-running line-up.[5] 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.[5]

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 puppet Basil Brush), and married a Blue Peter film editor Terry Gabell. It was her second husband's multiple sclerosis that 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 Judd had moved to a farmhouse near Cahors in France with retired radio station manager Peter Thornton. He died of heart disease in 2002.[6]

In 1975, Judd visited the Bishop Rock lighthouse, but "looked like she was about to plunge into the murky depths.[7] Disaster nearly struck as she travelled by rope to the lighthouse from a boat. Her harness snapped, leaving Judd with no support should she lose her grip on the rope."[8] Show editors Biddy Baxter and Richard Marson both defended Judd's reaction to this incident in subsequent books, revealing that she could not swim and thus showed enormous bravery by undertaking the challenge at all[5]

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".[9] 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.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Billed on closing credits and BBC programme as broadcast paperwork.
  2. ^ "Heidi". BBC Genome. 29 May 1959. Retrieved 3 October 2017. 
  3. ^ "Language of Love". BBC Genome. 6 February 1964. Retrieved 3 October 2017. 
  4. ^ "Show of the Week". BBC Genome. 10 August 1967. Retrieved 3 October 2017. 
  5. ^ a b c d Marson, Richard. Blue Peter 50th Anniversary Book: The Story of Television's Longest-running Children's Programme. Hamlyn. ISBN 978-0-600-61793-8. 
  6. ^ Milmo, Dan (9 December 2002). "Radio news pioneer Thornton dies". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 October 2017. 
  7. ^ "I Love Blue Peter - Lesley Judd presenter biography". BBC. Retrieved 3 October 2017. 
  8. ^ "I Love Blue Peter - Trivia about Lesley Judd, John Noakes and Peter Purves". BBC. Retrieved 3 October 2017. 
  9. ^ "Val Meets... Margaret Thatcher". BBC. 7 March 1973. Retrieved 3 October 2017. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Valerie Singleton
Blue Peter Presenter No. 7
Succeeded by
Tina Heath