Several months ago I was contacted by one of the producers for the children’s television show Blue Peter. He was interested in my camouflage body painting and invited me to appear on the show to paint one of the presenters.
I remember watching Blue Peter when I was younger and my parents remember watching it too. So I had a look at Wikipedia to find out a few more facts about this iconic show.
The first programme was shown on the BBC way back in 1958 and there have been more than 4,000 episodes since then, making it the longest running children’s TV show in the world. The show includes various viewer and presenter ‘challenges’ and also the very popular (and my particular favourite) arts and crafts projects that viewers could recreate at home. Blue Peter has always featured a number of pets. My mother said that most people from her generation affectionately remember the presenter John Noakes and his border collie ‘Shep’ from the 1970’s.
The Blue Peter Badge
The badge in the shape of a shield with a white background and blue ship logo was originally introduced in 1963 and was coveted by every child who watched the programme. This version of the badge is what the presenters still wear. Viewers can send in letters or art work to try and win one. There are now also several other badges for various achievements including the Gold badge which is the highest award and given for exceptional achievement. Gold badge holders include David Beckham, JK Rowling Tom Daley and Queen Elizabeth II.
There have been numerous presenters over the years. My parents recall Peter Purves, John Noakes and Valerie Singleton whose highlight on the show was when she very famously accompanied Princess Anne on her first solo trip overseas in a Kenyan Royal Safari in 1971. The current presenters are Barney Harwood, Lindsay Russell and Radzi Chinyanganya – who would be my model for my appearance on the show.
My Body Painting Challenge
So it was with all this history under my belt that I set off from London to the studio in Manchester with my fellow artist Laura Scimone. The show would be broadcast live and I already knew that the painting time was limited so I took Laura along to ensure that we would be finished in time for the show to go live at 5 pm.
I travelled up to Manchester the morning of the live show and we had approximately 4 hours to complete the bodypainting whilst also allowing Radzi enough time to fit in rehearsals.
It’s always a challenge when I see a location for the first time on the day of a shoot and the Blue Peter studio offered up quite a few technical challenges for a body paint. I’d seen photos of the studio space prior to the show day but what couldn’t be seen in the photos was a detailed grid pattern that wraps around the entire studio! I knew that it was going to be a race against time to get all the detail onto Radzi in the amount of hours we had since all the grid squares had to be painted on individually. It might have been difficult, but that’s what I particularly like about doing make up or bodypainting for live TV. The extra pressure of knowing that you have to get it finished and looking perfect always makes it even more exciting!
We also had to run through the script whilst I was painting and I was worried that when it came to the live show that I would somehow mess up one of my answers or forget what to say! Thankfully once to show got going the adrenalin managed to carry me though!
There was also an interactive section that featured 3 children painting various animals onto their hands. This was great fun and the children did very well.
So all in all it was a very enjoyable day. Everyone was really friendly and Radzi was a delight to work with and a very patient model. Plus at the grand old age of 34 I was absolutely thrilled to get my own Blue Peter badge!!