Monday, November 20, 2023

John Noakes, Biddy Baxter, Blue Peter: The Leicester connection

Go the post on John Thaw and Redcap I wrote the other day and click to watch the while video on YouTube. You will find that one of the soldiers in the episode is a young John Noakes with a not wholly convincing Welsh accent.

John Noakes, who died in 2017, presented the BBC children's programme Blue Peter between 1965 and 1978. And, having done a bit of research since blogging about Redcap, I know how he got the job.

The answer is in a Leicester Mercury article from 2018:
John Noakes, who was one of Blue Peter's best-loved presenters, only got his job in the show after his picture appeared in the Mercury.

Biddy Baxter, who produced the show that celebrates its 60th birthday today, grew up in Leicestershire and was leafing through the newspaper when she spotted a picture of John.

John, who died last year, was acting in Hobson’s Choice in Leicester and Biddy read about him during a weekend visit back home to the county.

She went on to hire him to join Christopher Trace and Valerie Singleton on the show, where be became her favourite presenter.

Biddy told the Mercury three years ago: "He was amazing - up for anything."
Noakes was not half complimentary about Biddy Baxter, but if you read a review of the new biography of her you will see he was not alone in his opinions.

But never mind that, because I have found what must be the article about Noakes that she saw. It appeared in the Leicester Mercury on 21 September 1965.

You can see the photograph of Noakes above, and the full text runs:
John Noakes started his working life as an aircraft engineer with B.O.A.C. after a spell in the R.A.F. and that Air Force experience came in very useful during his acting career when he spent six months in playing Whitley in Arnold Wesker's 'Chips with Everything'. 
He is making his first appearance at the Phoenix tonight as Willie Mossop in North Country comedy 'Hobson's Choice', but this will be the second time he has played the part. On the first occasion it was at the Castle Theatre, Farnham, and the director was the same - Clive Perry. 
After drama school he played in Cyril Fletcher's pantomime, 'Sleeping Beauty' at Cambridge, and followed this in a summer season at Yarmouth and Brighton as Cyril Fletcher's 'feed'. His first straight acting part was in Agatha Christie’s 'Towards Zero' at the old Opera House, in Leicester. 
His television work includes parts in the 'Mogul', Redcap and Balzac (BBC2) series, and he has played in rep at Harrogate, York, Manchester and Sheffield. 
At present he lives in Farnham, where his wife has a boutique, and looks after their two-year-old son.

No comments: