Topsham producer’s 36 years of Blue Peter
PUBLISHED: 09:23 12 November 2012
A Topsham TV producer, who spent more than 30 years working on classic children’s show Blue Peter, has published a memoir of his career.
Alex Leger, 65, is the author of Blue Peter: Behind The Badge, which covers 36 years during which Alex was often responsible for the show’s most iconic reports from around the world.
Alex, who first moved to Topsham when he was three, and returned around 25 years ago, served as an Army officer before moving into television.
Having started off working with Blue Peter legends John Noakes, Peter Purves and Lesley Judd, he subsequently worked with every one of the 30 or so presenters who followed them until his retirement last year.
When asked why he decided to write the book, Alex said: “It was like falling off a cliff when I stopped [working on Blue Peter]. I didn’t want to go to [new BBC headquarters] Salford, so I thought it was a good time to leave, and I thought the only thing to do would be to write about it.
“I thought it would be quite a cathartic experience, and 132,000 words later the cathartic experience is complete.”
As a ‘film producer’, rather than a ‘studio producer’, Alex’s job saw him filming the Blue Peter presenters on their many adventures around the world, producing famous films such as John Noakes climbing Nelson’s Column, Simon Groom reporting from famine-hit Ethiopia, and Caron Keating in Cambodia.
Alex said: “It was a proper merry go round for about 36 years, sort of living the dream of if you think it, you can do it.
“All the memories are best in their own particular way. The best bits in the book are really when something didn’t go off as expected, raised my curiosity, or made me particularly fearful – there are fearful moments and happy moments.”
A personal highlight for Alex came in 2002, when he filmed a series of programmes in the Solomon Islands, where he had previously worked as a volunteer after leaving school.
Joining Alex and presenter Simon Thomas on the trip was Bishop Willy Pwaisiho, who Alex had met in the Solomons as a young man, and who had since become a rector near Macclesfield.
“That was wonderful in terms of being able to realise a dream to go back to this exotic, amazing place. I was reunited with my past and relived some fairly interesting memories with Willy, and Simon Thomas, who I always got on with extremely well.
“Being a producer always allowed me to visit places tourists didn’t go, or weren’t allowed to go, and the Solomons was typical of that.”
Alex’s book is only available online at www.bluepeterbook.co.uk, or there are some copies available at Topsham Bookshop.