She is seen by some as the bad girl Blue Peter presenter and today Janet Ellis believes her punishment continues – she still hasn’t been given a gold Blue Peter badge.
Ellis, who left the show more than a quarter of a century ago, has chosen the the badge’s 50th anniversary to complain that while a number of former presenters have been given a prized gold badge she still hasn’t received one.
“Blue Peter badge is 50 today,” she wrote on Twitter. “I see that *some* presenters have been given gold badges. Not me. Anyone with cudgels like to take action?”
A total of 764 special gold badges have been given out in the fifty years since the Blue Peter badge was launched by producer Biddy Baxter as a bid to incentivise viewers. High profile recipients have included the Queen, Gary Barlow, Quentin Blake, Tim Burton, Elton John, Beth Tweddle, Tiger Woods and Ewan McGregor.
The BBC was unable to say which presenters have and haven’t received badges but the humiliation of those non- recipients is compounded by the fact that various animals have been given a gold badge – including a pony called Jet as well as Blue peter dogs Petra, Patch, Shep, Mabel and Bonnie, and Endal a six year old labrador who saved its owners life. Another recipient is the Forth Railway Bridge.
However, the BBC is adamant that not every former presenter is given a gold badge, which is awarded at the discretion of the programme’s editor.
“Gold Blue Peter badges have only been given to a small number of former presenters but it doesn’t mean we don’t value Janet’s enormous contribution to the show in the 80’s, especially when she became a record breaker as the first British woman to achieve a 90-second freefall parachute jump with the RAF Falcons.”
A BBC source urged Ellis not to be too downhearted. “We don’t want her to feel unloved – she is not the only ex-presenter not to get one.”
Ellis has always been one of the show’s more controversial hosts and left the show in 1987 soon after falling pregnant with her son Jackson while unmarried.
It is thought that the BBC management at the time felt this set a bad example to the children who watched the show, although Ellis has since claimed that she left voluntarily.
However, she is understood not to have been on the guest list of a lavish party at Buckingham Palace five years ago at which select presenters were invited to mark the show’s 50th birthday. These included Valerie Singleton, John Noakes, Peter Purves, Lesley Judd, Simon Groom, Yvette Fielding, Katy Hill, Diane-Louise Jordan, Konnie Huq and Matt Baker.
The BBC is understood to be taking a low-key approach to today’s anniversary with the programme still suffering from a backlash over the corporation’s decision to confine it to the CBBC channel.
The shown now attracts around 100,000 viewers, down from more than 340,000 while it was airing on BBC1 before the switch last year, although the corporation argues that the current figure now includes only 6-12-year-olds rather than the potentially wider audience drawn on BBC1.
The Blue Peter badge, launched on 17 June 1963, was producer Biddy Baxter’s idea to encourage viewers to writer in.
Owners of a badge enjoyed numerous privileges including free entrance to theme parks and museums.
There are now six different types of badges that children can earn. The Queen received a badge when she visited the studios in 2001.