Lesley Judd (born 20 December 1946) is an English former television presenter and dancer, best known as a long-serving host of the BBC children's programme Blue Peter (1972–1979).

Lesley Judd
Born (1946-12-20) 20 December 1946 (age 77)
London, England
Years active1962–1988
(m. 1974; div. 1978)
Terry Gabell
(m. 1978, divorced)
Anthony Relph
(m. 1986, died)
Peter Thornton
(died 2002)

Background edit

Born in London, the daughter of Leslie T. Judd and Hilda Madeline Haddock, Judd was educated at the independent Arts Educational School, Tring Park (Hertfordshire). In 1959, she appeared in the BBC Television adaptation of Heidi, playing the part of Clara.[1] Another early appearance as a child actress was as a schoolgirl in the Z-Cars episode "Person Unknown" on 14 November 1962.[2] An early dancing appearance came on BBC TV's The Language of Love in 1964.[3]

In 1967, Judd was one of the "children" dancers on Gillian Lynne's BBC2 show Hey Riddle Diddle starring Roy Castle and Nelson Riddle.[4] She was a hostess on the Associated-Rediffusion game show Exit! It's the Way-Out Show hosted by Ed Stewart. Beginning in 1967 with The Rolf Harris Show, Judd appeared as part of the dance troupe The Young Generation on several television shows, but walked out in breach of her contract. When offered the role as a BBC presenter soon after, the BBC contracts department was furious that she was being hired by the corporation once again and insisted the contract was "watertight."[5]

She was one of the background dancers in the filmed musical Half a Sixpence (1967) and had a small speaking role in the first Monty Python film And Now for Something Completely Different (1971, the "Hell's Grannies" sketch), and the Christopher Lee horror film I, Monster (1971). Judd made a brief return to dancing in 1976 when she joined Pan's People on Top of the Pops for a one-off routine (the rehearsals were later shown on Blue Peter), and later she often danced on the BBC show All Star Record Breakers.[6]

Blue Peter edit

Brought in to the show when Valerie Singleton began to diversify her television career in 1972, Judd initially presented with Singleton, John Noakes and Peter Purves, the partnership with Noakes and Purves lasting until 1978, the show's longest-running line-up.[5] Judd's tenure on Blue Peter was often in doubt; she was retained for most of her seven years on the show on short term 3-month contracts. When her first marriage, to Derek Fowlds, broke down in 1975 and her ex-husband threatened to 'tell all' to the tabloid press, Sally James was lined up to replace her on Blue Peter, but the storm blew over and Judd remained with the programme.[5]

Later, Judd married a Blue Peter film editor Terry Gabell. Her second husband's multiple sclerosis caused her to leave Blue Peter in 1979. After divorcing him, she married the then drummer Anthony Relph, with whom she had son Henry, and adopted a daughter Marta. Relph died of a lung embolism at 48, by which time Judd had moved to a farmhouse near Cahors in France with retired radio station manager Peter Thornton. He died of heart disease in 2002.[7]

In 1975, Judd visited the Bishop Rock lighthouse, but (according to her BBC profile page) "looked like she was about to plunge into the murky depths."[8] Disaster nearly struck as she travelled by rope to the lighthouse from a boat. Her harness slipped, leaving Judd with no support should she lose her grip on the rope.[9][10] Show editors Biddy Baxter and Richard Marson both defended Judd's reaction to this incident in subsequent books, revealing that she could not swim and thus showed enormous bravery by undertaking the challenge at all.[5] During her time on Blue Peter Judd also presented the spin-off series Blue Peter Special Assignment.

Subsequent career edit

After leaving Blue Peter, Judd fronted a children's TV 'chat' show, In The Limelight With Lesley, on BBC1, along the same lines as the earlier series Val Meets The VIPs with Singleton. One of her guests was British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher who was asked to comment on an earlier appearance on Val Meets The VIPs in 1973 in which she had said there would not be "a woman Prime Minister in my lifetime".[11] Another guest was the reigning Miss World Gina Swainson. Judd appeared with Billy Boyle on an ITV series for children, Dance Crazy, tracing the history of dance and was a regular panellist on game shows such as Punchlines. She later featured as 'The Mole' in the educational game show The Adventure Game, and was co-presenter of the technology game show The Great Egg Race,[12] the computer-related Micro Live from 1984[13] and Pets in Particular (1985).[14]

She was a presenter on Woman's Hour on BBC Radio 4 from 1982 to 1988, and appeared as a television newsreader in the film Threads (1984). Judd was a presenter on the London radio station LBC during the late 1980s, later co-hosting with Steve Allen, at the same time presenting various programmes on television for the Open University.[15] In 1992, Judd also presented a daytime interview programme on UK Channel 4, Time To Talk. Each programme consisted of an interview with one celebrity guest. Valerie Singleton, David Kossoff, Diana Moran, Jonathon Porritt and Don Maclean were among the interviewees. In the late 1970s, Judd was a continuity announcer on Southern Television.[16]

Post-presenting career edit

Now living near Toulouse, France, Judd is employed as a conference organiser. Although asked on several occasions to take part in Blue Peter reunions, she has generally declined, feeling that her television career was no longer a part of her life, though she did appear on Blue Peter's 35th birthday programme in 1993 and the 50th birthday commemorations in 2008.[17] She also appeared in December 2017 in a tribute programme to fellow Blue Peter presenter John Noakes, who had died earlier that year.[18] On 16 October 2018, she appeared on BBC Breakfast and later that day on Blue Peter to celebrate their sixtieth anniversary.[17]

References edit

  1. ^ "Heidi". BBC Genome. 29 May 1959. Retrieved 3 October 2017.
  2. ^ Billed on closing credits and BBC programme as broadcast paperwork.
  3. ^ "Language of Love". BBC Genome. 6 February 1964. Retrieved 3 October 2017.
  4. ^ "Show of the Week". BBC Genome. 10 August 1967. Retrieved 3 October 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d Marson, Richard (2008). Blue Peter 50th Anniversary Book: The Story of Television's Longest-running Children's Programme. Hamlyn. ISBN 978-0-600-61793-8.
  6. ^ "Broadcast - BBC Programme Index". 27 December 1974.
  7. ^ Milmo, Dan (9 December 2002). "Radio news pioneer Thornton dies". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 October 2017.
  8. ^ "I Love Blue Peter - Lesley Judd presenter biography". BBC. Retrieved 3 October 2017.
  9. ^ "I Love Blue Peter - Trivia about Lesley Judd, John Noakes and Peter Purves". BBC. Retrieved 3 October 2017.
  10. ^ "Chimneys and Lighthouses". YouTube. Retrieved 19 June 2022.
  11. ^ "Val Meets... Margaret Thatcher". BBC. 7 March 1973. Retrieved 3 October 2017.
  12. ^ "Broadcast - BBC Programme Index". 29 May 1984.
  13. ^ "Broadcast - BBC Programme Index". 5 October 1984.
  14. ^ "Pets in Particular[30/04/85] (1985)". Bfi. Archived from the original on 15 February 2021.
  15. ^ "Broadcast - BBC Programme Index". 2 May 1986.
  16. ^ Lesley Judd 20 July 1979
  17. ^ a b "blue peter on breakfast news 3". YouTube. Archived from the original on 6 December 2021.
  18. ^ "John Noakes: TV Hero". BBC. 9 December 2017. Retrieved 9 December 2017.

External links edit