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Tuesday, 4 January, 2000, 19:26 GMT
Blue Peter digs up the past

See, it wasn't lost: Blue Peter presenters past and present

Blue Peter presenters from the past and present joined forces to dig up two time capsules buried over twenty years ago on the BBC One children's show.

Current stars Katy Hill, Konnie Huq, Simon Thomas and Matt Baker joined veteran presenters Valerie Singleton, John Noakes and Peter Purves in the Blue Peter garden for the event.

The team used a Blue Peter map and thermal imaging equipment to find the buried capsules before digging them out of the grounds of BBC Television Centre in White City, west London.

Peter Purves, Valerie Singleton and John Noakes uncover the first time capsule
The first Blue Peter time capsule was buried on 7 June 1971 by Singleton, Noakes and Purves.

It contained objects from the time such as a copy of the 1970 Blue Peter annual, a set of decimal coins - which were introduced in 1971 - and photographs of the three presenters.

Peter Purves said at the opening of the capsules: "I think it is amazing that so many people are so interested in something that happened a relatively short time ago."

Valerie Singleton added: "I am amazed how quickly the time has past and how sprightly we still all are.

"I thought we would be coming back on our zimmer frames!"

In 1971, Purves, Singleton and Noakes asked Blue Peter viewers to write in to remind the programme when the time came to unearth the capsule. Nearly thirty years later, the Blue Peter office has received thousands of reminders from around the world.

Blue Peter editor Steve Hocking said: "I am astounded at the massive response we have had from viewers who watched the programme in 1971 who have taken the trouble to remind us to open the boxes.

"We have had some wonderfully touching letters from all over the world including Australia, Canada and Israel."

The 1971 capsule has also entered poplular folklore - urban mythology claimed the BBC had lost the plans which detailed where it was buried.

John Noakes, Valerie Singleton The way they were: John Noakes, Valerie Singleton
The box had to be moved at one point in its long burial - the original site of the capsule was due to be developed in 1984 so the unopened box was unearthed and moved to another site in the Blue Peter garden.

A second box was buried alongside it by presenters Simon Groom, Peter Duncan and Janet Ellis, to commemorate the occasion.

This box contained hairs from Goldie the Blue Peter labrador, a record of the programme's theme tune arranged by Mike Oldfield and video footage of the moving of Petra's statue.

The later capsule was dug up by Groom and Ellis - Peter Duncan was unable to attend as he is working abroad.

The event will be included in a Blue Peter special on the time capsules to be broadcast on Friday 7 January on BBC One.

There is still one Blue Peter time capsule remaining - The Blue Peter Millennium Time Capsule. This was buried in the floor beneath the Millennium Dome on 11 June 1998.

As well as containing Blue Peter items including a badge and history of the programme, the capsule also contains a set of Teletubby dolls, an insulin pen and a France '98 football. The time capsule will be opened in 2050.

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See also:
25 Jun 99 |  Entertainment
Blue Peter names new presenter
10 Oct 98 |  Entertainment
Here's one the BBC made 40 years earlier
16 Oct 98 |  Entertainment
Return of an 'idiot called Noakes'
27 Dec 99 |  UK
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