She wanted to be a dancer and for two years attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA). She won a scholarship for her first term and began her career as an actress at the New Theatre in Bromley. In 1959, she starred in the sitcom The Adventures of Brigadier Wellington-Bull.
She joined the BBC in 1961 as a continuity announcer and in 1962 joined Blue Peter where she stayed until 1972. She continued until 1975 in a part-time role as a 'roving reporter'. Along with John Noakes she continues to be more closely associated with Blue Peter than any other former presenter. (Initially, Singleton was for a long time credited for being the 3rd ever presenter, but the acknowledgment in 1998 of her predecessor Anita West as a former presenter helped her slip down a place to 4th.) During her long stint on Blue Peter, Singleton pulled off the coup of accompanying HRH Princess Anne (now The Princess Royal) on her first solo trip overseas for a Royal Safari to Kenya. The resulting documentary created a spin-off series for Blue Peter entitled Blue Peter Special Assignment. In 1998, the two met again to reminisce about the Royal safari for Blue Peter's fortieth anniversary.
Although she stopped presenting Blue Peter full time in 1972 she in fact continued to make regular appearances and was credited as a presenter through to 1975. During this time, Singleton presented her own chat show and the solo spin-off series, Blue Peter Special Assignment, which was shown at weekends and ran from 1973-76. Each edition focussed initially on European capital cities but later covered Islands and well-known historic figures. She returned for a final series in 1981 reporting on the Yukon and Niagara Rivers. Val Meets The VIPs also ran during the mid 1970's and involved interviews with a single celebrity, with the audience of children invited to put their own questions. One famous guest was then Secretary of State for Education, Margaret Thatcher, who when asked if she would like to be Prime Minister said that she did not have enough experience, nor would there be a woman Prime Minister in her lifetime.
In 1974, Singleton joined Nationwide as the show's "Consumer Unit" presenter alongside Richard Stilgoe, but later became one of the main hosts of the show. She left in 1978 to present the BBC's late night news programme Tonight, replacing Sue Lawley. She then went on to host many other programmes, notably Radio 4's PM and BBC Two's The Money Programme. During her long stint on PM she made headlines when she threw a glass of water in the face of her co-presenter while live on air. When she quit Radio 4's PM in 1993, she presented a travel programme for ITV and is now a regular travel writer for several national publications. She also appeared as herself in the BBC TV comedy series Citizen Smith, alongside the actor Robert Lindsay.
Singleton was awarded the OBE for her services to children's television, in 1994. She still makes occasional guest appearances on Blue Peter.
In the 1990s she presented a popular quiz on Channel 4 - Backdate. She was an early enthusiast and patron of the painter Jack Vettriano. In 2006, Singleton made a series of tongue-in-cheek 'makes' in the style of Blue Peter for VintageLadyBird to coincide with the release of the Ladybird Book for Boys And Girls, Things To Make & Do With Valerie Singleton. In 2005, the story of Singleton's move out of London to Dorset and the sale of the flat she'd lived in for over forty years was reported in The Times. According to Metro Newspaper in 2007, Singleton intends to publish her biography in time for Blue Peter's fiftieth anniversary in October 2008. According to the article, she will reveal "a few things that will shock".
In an interview in the Daily Mail in June 2008, she discussed some issues about her personal life. She dismissed persistent rumours that she was a lesbian, and disclosed that she had had an abortion in 1963 after a brief affair with another BBC employee.
Quote from Stephen Fry: "I have been pondering this business of fame since I was young enough to know Valerie Singleton from the Queen (for Americans and other non-Britons I should explain: one is a remote, god-like, autocratic woman endowed with powerful charismatic charm and the other is a constitutional monarch recently played on screen by Helen Mirren)".
Travel: Me and My Kit - Valerie Singleton: Here's One I Plugged in Earlier ; Don't Forget Your (Electric) Toothbrush - Valerie Singleton Makes Sure She Has Her Adaptors
Oct 01, 2000; The one thing I always take abroad with me is a now extremely battered, small box of electrical adaptors. I've been carrying it...
So what other dark secrets still remain? Valerie Singleton, queen of Blue Peter, reveals her slightly shocking love life.(News)
Jun 23, 2008; Byline: JIM SHELLEY SO that's why they called it Blue Peter. Valerie Singleton: sex-maniac. It's just not right, is it ? (Or is...
Tea with the Queen for Blue Peter's 50th; Golden Age: Peter Purves, Lesley Judd, Valerie Singleton and John Noakes in 1972 Veteran: Peter Purves Arrives Yesterday Reunion: Lesley Judd Breezes in Winnig smile:Konnie Huq One Last Stunt: Valerie Singleton Ignores Joker John Noakes
Oct 16, 2008; Byline: Liz Thomas SHE once admitted a fling with Blue Peter co-star Peter Purves. But when Valerie Singleton's other former...