So that's what happened in Blue Peter

10th July 2009 at 01:00

For the primary school-aged child of the late sixties, the week's best television was on Thursday afternoon. Blue Peter followed by Scooby Doo. The former was the one you told your parents was your favourite.

In truth, that honour probably went to the latter, despite it being responsible for implanting both the suspicion that all jannies were ghost- impersonating fraudsters and the misconception that a projector could form a 3D image in mid-air. OK, it's only the physicists who care about that one, but we do deserve to be heard now and again.

Blue Peter: John Noakes doing dangerous things, then being funny with his dog; making toys and presents out of boxes that had the manufacturers' names painted out; giving your tortoise (they always said "toh-toss") a 300-yard pre-hibernation service; breaking the world plate-spinning record and simultaneously giving the teaching community a metaphor to over-use; children coming to the studio to talk to famous people, making me think that Scots weans were shy and inarticulate when compared to their southern peers.

Eh? It took me years to work out what was actually going on. If I looked at all the kids I knew, the vast majority of them were both Scots and not as confidently fluent as those who spoke to John, Val and Peter. A few of them were and, had Blue Peter required a sample of children from Carluke, those few would have been the ones who were chosen.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege to work with some students from a selection of Dundee schools. All were on the fourth yearfifth year cusp and had volunteered to spend a week trialling a new physics unit. At the end of their time together, they were interviewed in small groups. Their confidence, sometimes quiet, sometimes not, and the thought they put into their responses exorcised the last ghost of my misunderstanding of what was happening on Blue Peter.

No, not exorcised, unmasked. It was my mistake all the time and, thanks to kids like those meddling ones from Dundee, it's been put right for good.

Gregor Steele, is tempted to search YouTube for clips from the Wacky Races.

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