1 March 1961|
Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, England.
|Died||23 July 1989
Newcastle General Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne, England
|Cause of death||AIDS related|
|Occupation||Television presenter, actor, dancer|
|Known for||Blue Peter presenter and champion trampolinist|
Early life and career
After winning five British titles and one world title in British & World Trampolining tournaments, he entered show business in 1980 when he appeared in the pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk, with Barbara Windsor. Sundin made various television and theatre appearances, both as an actor and dancer, which led to a long run in the Cameron Mackintosh-produced musical Cats, in which he played Bill Bailey in its West End run from 1982 until 1983. He appears in the video for Culture Club's I'll Tumble 4 Ya from 1982.
In 1984, he began rehearsing the character Tik-Tok for the Walt Disney film Return to Oz, and this was covered by the long-running BBC children's magazine programme Blue Peter. Sundin impressed the editor, Biddy Baxter, and was invited to audition for the presenting vacancy left by Peter Duncan; it was his fortune that one of the audition items was to interview someone on a trampoline, and he presented his first programme on 13 September 1984.
In October 1985, a newspaper printed photographs of Sundin dancing with a male stripper in London.
After fronting 77 episodes, the editors and production team for Blue Peter decided not to renew Sundin's contract following the summer break, because they felt that he had little rapport with the viewers and it was claimed by the editor that some parents and children complained about his effeminacy. However, coverage in the press of him as a gay man was also rumoured to have been a factor. He presented his last show on 24 June 1985. Sundin was very unhappy about this decision, and made his feelings known in the tabloid press.
In 2007 the former editor of Blue Peter Biddy Baxter was interviewed by the journalist Mark Lawson, transmitted as part of BBC Four’s Children’s TV On Trial week of programmes. For the first time on television, Baxter was confronted about the departure of Sundin. In the interview Baxter blamed the press for the inaccurate coverage of Sundin's sacking from the programme because of his sexuality. In previous documentaries and programmes Baxter had avoided addressing such questions about Sundin's involvement in the programme. In the interview she denied that he had been sacked due to his sexuality and said that "It was his leaving the programme because children didn’t like him – nothing to do with his sexual proclivities".
Sundin subsequently appeared in the film Lionheart (1987) in which he was incorrectly credited as 'Michel Sundin'. From 1987-88 he was in UK theatre tour of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and a Japanese/Australian tour of Starlight Express.
In 1988 Sundin fell ill. At the age of 28, he died in the Newcastle General Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne. The Times newspaper reported (on 26 July 1989) that he had died of liver cancer, but in fact his death was AIDS-related, and a decision was made that this information would not be released to the press. Earlier the same year Sundin had denied having AIDS.
- Forever Young (1983) - Peter
- Return to Oz (1985) - Tik-Tok
- Dreamchild (1985) - March Hare
- Lionheart (1987) - Bertram (Last appearance)
- Refer to Tim Latchem (16 March 2007). "Blue Peter: The Dark Side". The Daily Mirror. Retrieved 22 January 2008. Which states "The one-time world trampoline champion was sacked after further details of his gay lifestyle emerged."
- According to Biddy Baxter and Edward Barnes' book Blue Peter: The Inside Story (Letchworth: Ringpress, 1989, p.195)
- Mark Lawson Talks to Biddy Baxter (BBC Four, 31.05.07, dir. David Thompson)
- "Blue Peter Favourite Dies". Press Association Group. 25 July 1989.