Richard Marson (born c.1967) is an English writer, television producer and director, best known as a former editor in chief of the BBC's children's television programme Blue Peter. In September 2007, Marson was sacked from his post for making an editorial decision on the naming of the new Blue Peter cat, thus overriding the results of online vote on the programme in January 2006. Despite this, he remains the programme's "unofficial historian".
Early life and career
Marson won his first Blue Peter badge in 1972, which influenced him to pursue a career with the BBC in 1988. He worked on many TV programmes, including Going Live!, Top of the Pops, and eventually Blue Peter. Between 1983 and 1988, he wrote for Doctor Who Magazine.
Following five years as a freelance worker as a producer and director for such companies as Disney, Planet 24, and London Weekend Television, Marson returned to the BBC to direct Record Breakers and Tomorrow's World, eventually joining Blue Peter as a producer in 1998. Marson became first the series producer and then the editor of the show, before being sacked in September 2007.
In October 2006, Blue Peter ran a competition called "Whose Shoes?". More than 13,800 people entered, with calls costing 10p each, including 3.25p for a Unicef charity. Because of technical difficulties the researcher was unable to access callers' details, and subsequently selected the winner from a guest in the studio without referring the decision to the editor, deputy editor, or producer.
Along with this, Blue Peter staff ignored the result of the online poll to name a new kitten, ignoring the winning name – "Cookie" – and calling the pet "Socks" instead. According to former editor Biddy Baxter's book Dear Blue Peter (see page 283), Marson "had been so concerned about the accuracy of the online votes he made an editorial decision that the kitten (with its four white paws) should be named 'Socks' rather than 'Cookie'. Richard was an inspired editor. His dismissal was a great blow to the programme." Because of Marson's handling of and failure to report the incident he was sacked from CBBC. He had already left Blue Peter in July 2007. Blue Peter was fined £50,000 by Ofcom. The BBC subsequently apologized for the error of judgement.
He has produced and directed a 90-minute documentary about BBC Television Centre, called Tales of Television Centre, which was first shown on BBC Four on 17 May 2012. The programme had a preview screening at BFI Southbank two days before its first transmission. The documentary was commissioned to commemorate the ending of the Centre's role in the Corporation's activities and the site's likely sale.
His biography of the last 'classic' Doctor Who producer JNT: The Life and Scandalous Times of John Nathan-Turner was published in 2013 by Miwk Publishing. This work details Nathan-Turner's career, his difficulties with BBC superiors and alleges inappropriate behaviour by the producer, the last of which resulted in the book making front page headlines in some tabloid newspapers.
Richard Marson's son Rupert Marson, 14, died at their St. Albans home in 2008. Police were called to the house on the morning of 8 June, whereupon Rupert Marson was pronounced dead at the scene. At the inquest a verdict of "accidental death" was declared.
- Marson, Richard; Biddy Baxter (October 2008). Blue Peter 50th Anniversary. Octopus Publishing Group. p. 192. ISBN 0-600-61793-9.
- "Blue Peter editor leaves his job". BBC News. 16 May 2007. Retrieved 2008-10-13.
- "BBC – CBBC – Blue Peter". BBC. Retrieved 2008-10-13.
- Brook, Stephen (20 September 2007). "Marson 'victim of witch hunt'". guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 2008-10-13.
- Methven, Nicola (20 September 2007). "New BBC phone row". mirror.co.uk/. Retrieved 2008-10-13.
- "Upstairs, Downstairs Interview with Richard Marson". updown.org.uk. Archived from the original on 2 October 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-13.
- "Richard Marson – imdb". imdb. Retrieved 2008-10-13.
- "Record Breakers – The TV series". BBC. 27 July 2002. Retrieved 2008-10-13.
- "Tomorrow's World axed after 38 years". BBC News. 3 January 2003. Retrieved 2008-10-13.
- "The Story of Television's Longest-running Children's Programme". foyles.co.uk. Retrieved 2008-10-13.
- Methven, Nicola (21 September 2007). "Blue Peter cat scam". mirror.co.uk. Retrieved 2008-10-13.
- "New lies fiasco engulfs BBC as it admits rigging Blue Peter cat-naming competition". thisislondon.co.uk. on 20.09.07. Retrieved 2008-10-13. Check date values in:
- Methven, Nicola (26 September 2007). "Blue Peter says sorry". mirror.co.uk. Retrieved 2008-10-13.
- Tales of Television Centre
- Matthew Sweet "JN-T: The Life and Scandalous Times of John Nathan-Turner by Richard Marson – review", The Guardian, 22 March 2013
- Bloxham, Andy (13 June 2008). "Son of sacked Blue Peter editor found hanged". telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 2008-10-13.
- Clark, Emma. "Boy who hanged himself did not want to die, coroner rules". stalbansreview.co.uk. Retrieved 2008-10-26.