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Last Updated: Monday, 10 May, 2004, 08:01 GMT 09:01 UK
Blue Peter tortoise laid to rest
George
George worked with 20 Blue Peter presenters
One of children's television's best loved pets has died after 22 years as a screen star.

George the Blue Peter tortoise died of old age last week and will be buried in the show's BBC garden in a special tribute programme on Monday.

The Mediterranean spur-thigh tortoise worked alongside 20 presenters on the well-loved television programme.

George, who was thought to be aged 83, made his final TV appearance on 14 April alongside new tortoise Shelley.

It is a real shock when a favourite pet dies but it is something all pet owners have to face
Matt Baker, presenter

Blue Peter editor Richard Marson said the pet will be laid to rest under a memorial plaque and shrub.

He said: "George was very popular with several generations of Blue Peter viewers and we will all really miss him.

"Requests for his photo card have often exceeded those for some presenters and we'll be sending them out to any viewer who wants a memento of a much-loved pet."

Presenter Matt Baker said: "It is a real shock when a favourite pet dies but it is something all pet owners have to face.

"We hope that by having a share in our Blue Peter pets, children can be helped to deal with that sad fact."

Escape

George gave Blue Peter bosses a scare in 1988 when burglars let him out of his pen during a robbery attempt at the home of his owner.

It was thought George had been stolen, but it later emerged the animal had strayed out of a garden.

Simon Groom, Janet Ellis and Peter Duncan with George and the other Blue Peter pets
George was the fourth tortoise to join the cast

Two weeks later a woman walking her dog found him hidden in undergrowth three miles away, just a day after a tribute film was broadcast about his life on Blue Peter.

George also played a part in two Blue Peter gaffs.

The tortoise urinated on the former 400m hurdler Kris Akabusi when he appeared on the show and presenter Mark Curry marked his first programme in1986 by accidentally stepping on George, sending him spinning across the studio.

Sandra Kay, chairwoman of the British Tortoise Society, said: "It's a terrible shame that George has died but without a doubt he has helped to get generations of children interested in tortoises.

"We do road shows across the country and every time we arrive with our tortoises, at least one child will always mention George. They all loved him and he definitely became a celebrity."


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's David Sillito
"His final appearance was just a few weeks ago"



SEE ALSO:
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15 Oct 03  |  Entertainment
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16 Jun 03  |  North West Wales
Blue Peter pet Bonnie dies
19 Apr 01  |  Entertainment


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