Zoe Salmon pays tribute to Blue Peter's John Noakes who died, aged 83
Former Blue Peter presenter Zoe Salmon has paid tribute to the TV show’s longest serving host John Noakes, who died on Sunday at the age of 83.
Noakes, famous for his escapades with Shep the dog, had been suffering from Alzheimer’s and Bangor woman Zoe, who hosted the show from 2004-08, described him as “a true Blue Peter legend”.
“Thank you for all the memories you have given us, you will live on in our hearts,” she posted on her Instagram account yesterday.
Tributes also poured in for the star, who has been hailed as the “best” Blue Peter presenter, from the show’s former hosts Peter Purves, Janet Ellis, Konnie Huq and Anthea Turner.
Noakes family friend Wendy Downes confirmed the news that he died peacefully on Sunday morning in a statement, saying: “He had endured and suffered from Alzheimer’s over recent years and whilst he will be greatly missed by his wife, family and many friends, his release from continuing ill-health must be counted as a blessing.
“His many escapades with his faithful companion Shep, during his time with Blue Peter, will live on in many people’s memories and that is how his family would like him remembered.”
The Yorkshire-born star worked on the children’s show for 12-and-a-half years in the 1960s and 1970s, when he developed a reputation as the show’s action man.
He was also known for his partnership with canine stars of the programme, Patch, the first Blue Peter dog Petra’s puppy, and the border collie Shep, who inspired Noakes’ catchphrase: “Get down, Shep!”
When he left Blue Peter, the BBC let the presenter keep Shep.
In the 1970s travelogue spin-off Go With Noakes, he travelled around the UK with Shep alongside him.
The presenting team of Noakes with Purves and Valerie Singleton on the long-running BBC show, famous for making things out of sticky-back plastic, was seen as a classic line-up.
Noakes landed the Blue Peter job after notching up small TV parts in series like Redcap and Mogul, when editor Biddy Baxter decided to have a third presenter on the show to join Christopher Trace and Valerie Singleton.
His feats included ascending Nelson’s Column without a safety harness using just a rickety wooden ladder — with a sound problem meaning he had to repeat the climb — a bruising encounter with a bobsleigh and a record-breaking skydive.
Noakes was also in the studio when Lulu the baby elephant caused chaos, defecated on the floor, knocked down her handler and then barged into the presenters.
Born in Shelf, near Halifax, Noakes began his early adult life training as an engine fitter for the RAF before deciding to become an actor.
He wrote a children’s book and appeared on reality shows, including Britain’s Worst Celebrity Driver Live.
In 1982, he left England on a sailing trip to see the world, but he and his wife were shipwrecked in a hurricane.
In 2015, Noakes was found near his home in Majorca after going missing for more than eight hours.
He was discovered in a storm drain, after being spotted by a police helicopter not far from his home and taken to hospital, his wife Vicky said at the time.
Police in Andratx on the south west of the Mediterranean island were alerted to his disappearance as temperatures reached almost 36C (96.8F).