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Blue Peter Speedway Race

Back when there were only three TV channels in the UK, and even then they turned off before midnight and some didn't show anything during the day, Blue Peter was one of the few shows actually made for children. Because of this, the presenters were household names, for young and old, in a way no kids presenter is now. John Noakes and Peter Purves were as famous as George Best or Roger Moore. Even Noakes' dog, Shep, was known to 90% of the UK's populace. Noakes passed away this week, prompting SB reader Chris Hough to send us a link to this video.

I'd never seen this footage. It's from 1972, I think, and the two male presenters (not known for being motorcyclists, but it's likely most British men had some experience on motorbikes back then), learn to ride 500cc methanol burning speedway bikes, before actually entering a demonstration race within one of Hackney's league matches. Noakes is practicing race starts in a scruffy pair of decorator's cotton overalls. It's a cliché to say it, but they were more carefree times.

The Hackney promoter, and the person giving the two presenters the riding lesson, is Len Silver. UK dirt track racers and speedway fans will know him as the former owner of the Rye House track and team.

There are some great camera angles and the pair of presenters really throw themselves in the deep end (something Blue Peter presenters do to this day, one female presenter, Helen Skelton even cycling/skiing to the South Pole for charity in 2012). Noakes also famously climbed a ladder up Nelson's column to clean the birdshit off the London monument for a TV segment, in his parka and flares and no safety gear or rope whatsoever (see the clip below. It makes my knees go just watching it).

Well worth six minutes of your day. Cheers Chris.

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