News has come in that CBBC series Blue Peter, which has made do with two presenters (Barney Harwood and Helen Skelton) since relocating to the department’s new Salford headquarters, is to go back to a trio of presenters.
In times gone by, recruiting would be done by means of a discreet casting notice in The Stage, or via other industry contacts. But now, as is the way of these things, it is to be cast by way of a reality show. So You Think You Can Be A Blue Peter Presenter (working title) will see competitors battle through a number of heats, before a final in which the winner will be chosen by the CBBC audience. According to the press release:
Double BAFTA-winning presenting team Dick and Dom will bring their much-loved mix of humour, energy and insights to the series, where they will be joined by a panel of judges. The judges will choose which Blue Peter hopefuls make it through each elimination stage, but they can’t influence the ultimate winner – that’s in the hands of the CBBC audience.
The CBBC team is involving the audience from the very start as well, offering them an opportunity, before filming starts, to go online and vote for one of the challenges that the Blue Peter hopefuls will have to rise to.
To be honest, I gave an inward groan when I heard this news – but the more I think about it, the more it makes sense. It even makes me wonder why Blue Peter hasn’t gone down this route before.
BP has always been at the pioneering end of audience interactivity, long before ‘interactivity’ was even used in television circles. From the word go, children were encouraged to write in, whether it was appreciation for a feature that they had seen, pictures of their own ‘makes’, or even ideas for features that the production team would then put into practice.
In that context, it makes perfect sense for the children who have always been part of the show’s ethos to be let in on the audition process. If the shortlist has been selected well, unsuccessful candidates could well get some good exposure, and could expand the scope of CBBC presenter casting – so many shows seem to go to Dick and Dom, or Sam and Mark, when cultivating new talent should surely be one of the BBC’s goals.
And the person who wins will ensure that the new Blue Peter presenter is popular with the audience who will be watching them every week. And looking back at the list of presenters, there are several in each generation who a conventional casting process failed to notice weren’t quite right.
If you are interested in being considered as a Blue Peter presenter, you will need to email email@example.com for details.
• Why CBBC is my desert island channel