Former Blue Peter employee Lester 'Lester' Lester, 67, plunged the children's flagship programme into new depths of scandal-despair yesterday, when he claimed - in the light of recent revelations about faked competition winners and rigged voting in a cat-naming feature - that some of its best-loved characters and incidents were also 'fabricated'.
'They've betrayed the dreams of generations of kids' sighed Lester, 74, in the Owl & Pussycat pub in Kilburn, late last night. 'I just can't keep quiet any more. It's driven me to drink.'
Lester, 72, who told me in our hour-long exclusive snug-bar interview that he used to wash gardener Percy Thrower's tools after the 'Blue Peter Garden' slots, said that beloved Blue Peter pets like Petra the dog and George the long-lived tortoise were 'just like Skippy the Bush Kangaroo - there were dozens of them.'
High-voiced Yorkshire numpty John Noakes was played by a Welsh actor called Iago Plythonn-Drydd and a team of stuntmen stood in for him in all his feats of daring, said Lester, 82. 'His dog, Shep, was real at first, but Iago got so sick of saying "get down, Shep" in a whiny Yorkshire accent, that he shot it one weekend and they brought in performing dogs after that which they painted the right colours.'
Effeminate long-haired Peter Purves, the presenter recruited from a swimming pool in Basildon, wasn't a lifeguard as innocent viewers were led to believe. 'He was a female impersonator and male prostitute who only got the job because he was blackmailing producer Biddy Baxter. The swimming pool thing was a cover-up to make 'Pervy' Purves look more macho and wholesome.'
The infamous episode where a baby elephant ran amok and soiled the studio floor was 'a circus trick picked up by the Noakes actor who once did the clowning and elephant turns in the Gandolpho Brothers Circus that toured the Welsh valleys' according to Lester, 70. 'The "baby elephant" was really 2 midgets in a costume. They were the famous Rhenish "Pygmy Twins" who'd been fired from Gandolpho Brothers after hanky panky with Jezebel the Mermaid from the seal act.'
'Lester' Lester, 61, had some devastating revelations about the lady hitherto regarded as Blue Peter's 'Mother Superior': 'Valerie Singleton was a professional dominatrix in her spare time and used to service some of the big-wigs at the Beeb. I'll never forget the evening when Percy Thrower and myself found her with Biddy Baxter in the potting shed. Biddy was naked and tied to the new clematis frame and Val was beating her with some of poor Percy's bamboo canes. Perce was never the same again, though Biddy doubled his pay to keep him quiet. You know, millions of viewers believed his voice used to tremble when he talked about clematis because he loved the flowers so much. I knew better.'
Lester 'Lester' Lester, 59, began to talk about a lesbian relationship between Lesley Judd and intriguingly-butch dancing newsreader Angela Rippon, but, as he was rapidly becoming incoherent and abusive, I made my excuses and left the Owl & Pussycat, my head filled with images of corrupted childhood innocence.
by Hugh G Muckraker