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Thursday, June 24, 1999 Published at 18:47 GMT 19:47 UK


Blue Peter names new presenter

Matt Baker: The new face of Blue Peter

Flagship BBC children's programme Blue Peter has chosen a fresh-faced drama graduate as its new presenter.

Matt Baker, 21, from Durham, has landed the plum presenting job, straight from his diploma at Queen Margaret's University College, Edinburgh.

[ image: Baker's film about his parents' farm won him the job]
Baker's film about his parents' farm won him the job
He will make his debut today and said he was overwhelmed at news of his lucky break. "I can't believe I've got it. It's completely phenomenal and all a bit daunting," he said.

A former champion gymnast and acrobat, who also enjoys restoring classic cars, Baker has all the get-up-and-go traditionally needed by Blue Peter presenters. Nonetheless, it was a film he made about the lambing season on his parents' farm that clinched him the role.

Blue Peter editor Steve Hocking said: "Matt is a fantastic find. His various skills make him incredibly versatile and perfect for the demanding roles a Blue Peter presenter has to undertake."

Baker is taking over from Stuart Miles, who is leaving after five years to work on a new ITV travel show.

Past regrets

When Baker steps into Miles's shoes, alongside new colleagues Katy Hill, Simon Thomas and Konnie Huq, it will be as the 28th presenter in the programme's 40-year history.

[ image: John Noakes in his heyday on Blue Peter]
John Noakes in his heyday on Blue Peter
But it will also be soon after one of the original hosts said he regretted having been part of the show.

Earlier this week, 65-year-old John Noakes, who as an actor turned Blue Peter daredevil appears to have a lot in common with Baker, said: "Given my time again, I would not have done Blue Peter."

He told BBC listings magazine Radio Times that he believed he could have made a career in acting, adding he only left the profession because he was tired from years in repertory.

However, Baker was undaunted by Noakes's pessimistic remarks - saying he was too young to remember who he was. And as far as role models are concerned, he added that 1980s presenter Peter Duncan was his man.

"I just love all the action stuff he used to do. I used to look up to him and think I'd love to do that."

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