Art Attack: Why The Crafty Blue Peter Way Is Still The Best
Image by: danhodgett
Ahhh, Blue Peter. A British televisual institution. For people and parents of a certain age, we can remember the halcyon days of the catchy theme tune, affable presenters, name the pet competitions, and Yvette Fielding pruning her bush in the Blue Peter garden.
And let’s not forget its ubiquitous use of cardboard loo rolls and double-sided sticky tape.
Yes, in an age when Xbox’s rule and whippersnappers are transmogrified in to a slavering horde of socially incompetent, barely literate, slavering techno-zombies, there used to be a time when they could quite happily spend several hours in the company of little more than a Pritt Stick and an old Frosties box.
Well, a change is as a good as a rest, and I think it’s high time we brought those days of traditional arts and crafts back. Times may have changed since John Noakes knocked up a Christmas fairy (hang on a minute) with a coat hanger and some Velcro, but that doesn’t mean they’ve changed for the better.
So grab your empty matchboxes and rolls of tin foil, let’s have some fun – the good ol’ fashioned, Blue Peter way.
The joy about the Blue Peter approach to making things is that it was very a communal activity. Presenters encouraged family and friends to muck in and take part, getting your dad to pass the glue and your sister to hold down the plastic yoghurt pot. You could do it on your own if you wanted, but the underlying theme was one of familial and friendly joint participation. As the old adage goes: the family that makes a cardboard Tardis together stays together.
No matter how innovative and creative Peter Purves was with an off-cut of lino, he was nothing if not cognisant that, if you’re not careful, a pair of scissors in a clumsy or inexperienced pair of hands could be a potentially dangerous interface.
Blue Peter presenters have prided themselves on safety and often imparted that, for the trickier parts of arts and crafts assemblage, “you might want to get an adult to help you.” Lots of time and countless fingers have been saved as a result.
Go to any church fete or local arts fair on a weekend and you’ll see parents merrily mucking in with their kids, sprinkling the glitter, squirting the glue, moulding the clay and getting splashed with paint. And that encapsulates the whole Blue Peter ethos. The invention of the Xbox and its techie counterparts have been the death kneel for social interaction, and Blue Peter embodied the spirit of family and working together. Texting may have replaced making Tracy Island with your dad, and isn’t there something rather heartbreaking about that?
Refreshingly Old School
Let’s face it, technology is taking over our lives and rendering us passive observers and ineffectual in our own existence. Blue Peter was bricks and mortar, back to basics old school. You didn’t need a Kindle, you picked up a book. Having a Wii wasn’t necessary, you played KerPlunk. True, they didn’t exist, but sometimes don’t you wish they never did?
Recycling’s Earliest Exponent
Since its first broadcast in 1958, Blue Peter has been at the forefront of recycling, encouraging millions of kids across the country to make the most and get creative with old bric-a-brac lying around the house and items you’d normally throw away.
And this was years before the spectre of environmentalism compelled everyone to stop using deodorant, or your local council gave you fifty-three different receptacles in which to recycle stuff you didn’t even know you had. No matter what it was – from coat hangers to cheap light bulbs – Blue Peter could make use of it.
Arguably the best aspect to the Blue Peter was that it got the mind working in lots of creative ways. Imagining resourceful uses for nothing more than BacoFoil and a pot of flour paste is no easy feat. Plentiful use of crepe paper and tinsel requires skill, precision, a keen artistic eye, and patience. And you had to do it yourself, not buy it from a shop. Now there’s a novel idea.
Do you still pine for the days of the almost-forgotten art of making things and arts and crafts.
Gavin Harvey is a dedicated personal trainer whose itchy feet have taken him all over the globe. He harks back nostalgically to the days of Cheggers Plays Pop and Blue Peter, and blogs for various companies including Litecraft Lightbulbs.