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Noakes, John (1934-)

Presenter, Actor

Main image of Noakes, John (1934-)

John Noakes was Blue Peter's action man, with two climbs of Nelson's Column, a bobsleigh accident in St Moritz and a record-breaking civilian parachute jump among his incredible feats.

Born on 6 March 1934 in Shelf, Halifax, Yorkshire, he trained as an aircraft fitter before studying at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Small TV parts later came in series like Redcap (ITV, 1964-66) and Mogul (BBC, 1965). A piece in the Leicester Mercury covering a local theatre run of Hobson's Choice brought Noakes to the attention of Biddy Baxter, editor of Blue Peter (BBC, 1958-).

Noakes first appeared just after Christmas 1965. Initially terrified by having to appear as himself before live TV cameras, Noakes created a persona to cope, clowning around in his native Yorkshire accent, and accompanied by a faithful canine partner. The first, Patch, died after just five years but his replacement, black and white border collie Shep, formed a much-loved double act with his owner. They remained inseparable in their travelogue spin-off Go With Noakes (BBC, 1976-80). In 1987 Noakes tearfully announced Shep's death on factual series Fax (BBC, 1986-88).

Noakes left Blue Peter in 1978 but relations soured when he was forbidden from using Shep in TV advertisements. Despite this he returned for various Blue Peter anniversary celebrations including the time capsule dig in 2000.

Noakes and his wife retired to Majorca in 1984 but he makes occasional appearances on UK reality shows such as I'm Famous and Frightened (Living TV, 2004-5).

Alistair McGown

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Thumbnail image of Blue Peter (1958- )Blue Peter (1958- )

Live magazine show offering British children a window onto the world.

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