The former Blue Peter presenter John Noakes, the show’s longest serving presenter fondly remembered by a generation of children’s television viewers for encounters with special guests including an incontinent baby elephant, has died at his home in Spain aged 83, after suffering for many years from Alzheimer’s disease.
A statement from his family confirmed that he had died peacefully in Mallorca on Sunday morning.
“He had endured and suffered from Alzheimer’s over recent years and 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,” it 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.”
“Great guy, sadly missed,” his fellow presenter Peter Purves said.
Tributes poured in on Twitter, with many recalling not only Noakes’ ‘Get down, Shep!’ catchphrase, and how moved they had been in 1987 when the presenter tearfully announced on television that the dog had died, but also his action man stunts including scaling Nelson’s Column by ladder in 1977 without a safety harness.
Noakes recalled his Blue Peter years between 1965 and 1978 as “a Peter Pan existence, a bit like an overgrown schoolboy’s job”.