The former Blue Peter presenter John Noakes has died, aged 83.
Noakes served as a host on the flagship BBC children’s programme from 1965 to 1978, where he became a viewer favourite due to his daredevil antics and his friendly relationship with the show’s dog, Shep.
A statement from Noakes’ family this morning (May 29) confirmed his passing at the age of 83, clarifying that he had “endured and suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.”
“Whilst he will be greatly missed by his wife, family and many friends, his release from continuing ill health must be counted as a blessing,” the statement said. “His many escapades with his faithful companion Shep, during his time with Blue Peter, will live on in many peoples’ memories. That is how his family would like him remembered.”
Noakes joined Blue Peter in December 1965 after being spotted performing in a play in Leicester. The Yorkshire-born presenter quickly became a viewer favourite for his outgoing nature, particularly when it came to partaking in daredevil stunts, such as white water rafting and travelling up the Amazon.
However, Noakes claimed that his on-screen manner was all a “persona” that he could hide behind: “Idiot Noakes has an extrovert personality, is light-hearted and jokey. A bit of a buffoon who would do anything for a laugh or a few pence. I switch the personality on when I turn up to do the job, and off when I leave.”
Noakes’ relationship with the Blue Peter dog Shep was also a highlight, with the phrase “Get down, Shep” becoming something of a catchphrase on the show.
The presenter left Blue Peter in 1978 amid a row with its editor, Biddy Baxter. The feud continued for many years, with Noakes initially turning down an invitation to attend a reception at Buckingham Palace in 2008 to mark Blue Peter‘s 50th anniversary.
Former Blue Peter presenter Simon Thomas paid tribute to Noakes, calling him “the best Blue Peter presenter ever.”
— Simon Thomas (@SimonThomasSky) May 29, 2017