Blue Peter is dropped from main BBC channels


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The Independent Online

After more than 50 years as a teatime fixture for generations of children, Blue Peter will set sail from its flagship BBC1 home to a digital channel the BBC made earlier.

The magazine programme, along with children's favourites including Newsround and In The Night Garden will be banished from terrestrial channels as part of a major BBC shake-up, designed to cut costs after the completion of the switchover from analogue broadcasts to digital.

The BBC Trust approved plans by Mark Thompson, BBC Director-General, to end the block of teatime children's programmes which has run on BBC1 for more than 60 years.

Blue Peter, which first aired in 1958, and other programmes for pre-teens, will now be shown solely on the dedicated children's channel CBBC. Biddy Baxter, the former Blue Peter editor, opposed the move, saying it would reduce the available audience.

But figures showed that more six to 12 year olds already watched Blue Peter on the digital channel, where the episodes now premiere, than on BBC1 where it is currently still shown on Fridays.

BBC1 had already reduced its commitment to the programme, hosted by Helen Skelton and Barney Harwood, to just one episode a week. The decision to move the world's longest-running children's show prompted a storm of Twitter outrage. But its current audience, as likely to watch episodes via the iPlayer, reacted with a shrug.

The BBC1 airtime is likely to be filled by more repeats and quiz shows to help build an adult audience for the 6 O'Clock News.