A Blue Peter badge is a much coveted award for Blue Peter viewers, given to people on the children's television programme for either being on the show or achieving something. Ordinarily the badge provides the wearer with free entry to many British attractions, particularly museums. The programme producers suspended the privileges amid concerns about the badges being sold in March 2006, but were reintroduced with additional security by June (see below). The badges were introduced to the programme by editor Biddy Baxter in 1963 from an idea by Blue Peter producer Edward Barnes. The logo was designed by Tony Hart.
The types of Blue Peter badge
There are six Blue Peter badges
- The Blue badge: This is what the presenters on the show usually wear. Viewers of the programme can win one by either sending in an interesting letter, poem, picture or story, or by appearing on the programme. The design is a blue ship on a white shield.
- The Silver badge: This is awarded to viewers who have already won a Blue badge; however, you have to do something different to win one. The design is a silver ship on a blue shield.
- The Green badge: This is Blue Peter's environmental award. Viewers can win one by writing a poem or song, or telling the viewers about any 'green' subject. Presenters on the programme occasionally wear this badge instead of the blue one. It consists of a white ship on a green shield.
- The Orange badge: This is given to viewers who have been either a winner or runner up in any of Blue Peter's many competitions. The design is a white ship on an orange shield. This replaced the original competition winners badge (which was round) in 2005.
- The Gold badge: This is Blue Peter's highest award and is only given to people who have shown outstanding bravery and courage, or for people who have represented their country in an international event. The gold Blue Peter Badge is given out very rarely and you cannot 'earn' it like the others. Two dogs have also received the Gold badge, Bonnie in 1991 and Endal in 2003. This badge is a gold-plated brooch in the shape of the ship logo. It has also become tradition to present a leaving presenter with a gold badge on their final show. JK Rowling received a gold badge for her work on the Harry Potter series.
- The Purple badge: This is awarded to 12 children a month who win the chance to spend a day working with the Blue Peter team. This new badge was introduced in September 2006. It was also awarded to the 'Purple Lady' visited by Gethin Jones on the show broadcast on Thursday 10th May 2007.
Badges for sale
In March 2006 the news that Blue Peter
badges were available for sale on auction websites such as eBay
attracted a great deal of media interest. It has been suggested that the badges, which allow free entry to some tourist attractions, have been abused. For example, in one case, all children from a family visiting Edinburgh Zoo
were wearing the badges. In a leader article The Times
went so far as to say the news was "a knife to the national psyche". The Sun
launched a campaign in which readers could 'send in the names of people they know who have an illegal Blue Peter
In the wake of the news of the sales being made known to a wide audience, the number of badges for sale on eBay exploded from a few dozen to 300. In the light of the controversy the decision was made, on 29 March 2006, to withdraw the privileges the badges offered due to their abuse. The show stated its intention to introduce measures which would stop the badges being sold for commercial gain, and appealed to the public for ideas (BBC News report). Accompanying the statement of suspensions the show's Editor Richard Marson said Blue Peter wished to "protect children who have earned their badges and who are feeling very let down by this cynical trade."
eBay said that it would remove any auctions proven to involve fake badges on the grounds of copyright infringement, but that trade in real badges was not illegal and would not be halted by eBay administrators.
Former Blue Peter presenters have also expressed their opinions on the matter:
Peter Purves - "What a pity that it cheapens the currency of what is a really nice thing for youngsters to win for themselves. Parents who buy these badges on the internet are not really doing their children any favours."
Janet Ellis - "This is a shame. For most children who own them, it is an immense honour and they really do treasure them. The idea that a cynical mother or father would buy it to get free entry to a museum really is a shame."
Peter Duncan - "This is sad news. The Blue Peter badge, like Scouting badges, has a bit of history. The badge should be a reward for something worthy and be an inspiration to others. It's such a shame about it being abused."
The TV presenter Vanessa Feltz wrote in her newspaper column "The Blue Peter badge is a British institution and it is a shame that this scandal is taking place."
badges were re-introduced on 19 June 2006 under a new system. To prevent a repeat of the eBay auctions, all current holders of a Blue Peter
badge and those who win a badge will also need to be issued with a photo ID card. The idea was thought up by 11-year old Blue Peter
viewer and Blue badge winner Helen Jennings, who even included a prototype design of the ID card in the letter that she sent to the show. The producers liked the idea of this ID card system for Blue Peter
badge holders so much that they awarded Helen the Silver Blue Peter