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Purves, Peter (1939-)

Presenter, Actor, Producer, Director

Main image of Purves, Peter (1939-)

Best known for his eleven-year stint on Blue Peter (BBC, 1958-), Peter Purves was a trained actor who became straight man to John Noakes on Britain's most enduring children's programme.

Born on 10 February 1939 in New Longton, Preston, he abandoned teacher training to return to his childhood love of acting, joining the Barrow in Furness Repertory Company in 1961.

After playing an American tourist in a 1965 episode of Doctor Who (BBC, 1963-89; 2005-) he returned three weeks later as new companion Steven Taylor, accompanying William Hartnell's Doctor for a further 44 episodes.

In November 1967 he began presenting Blue Peter. The authoritative Purves could retain reams of information in the days before autocue, but he also tried stunt driving, mountaineering and even climbed the Forth Road Bridge. Purves also formed an enduring partnership with dog Petra.

Purves left Blue Peter in 1978, although he fronted the spin-off Special Assignment until 1981. Immediately afterwards, he anchored children's sport show Stopwatch (BBC, 1978-84) for three years. Making the transition into mainstream TV, he was the BBC commentator on the Crufts dog show from 1978 until 2008 as well as Superdogs (BBC, 1989-93), bike trials show Kick Start (BBC, 1979-86) and BBC2's darts coverage from the early 1980s.

Purves produced and presented over 100 corporate training films in the 1980s and 1990s, later spoofing these in an episode of sitcom The Office (BBC, 2001-3). He now directs pantomimes and is an after dinner speaker and trainer. His autobiography Here's One I Wrote Earlier was published in 2009.

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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