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Michael Sundin
Born 1 March 1961(1961-03-01)
Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, England.
Died 23 July 1989 (aged 28)
Newcastle General Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne, England.
Cause of death AIDS related
Occupation Television presenter, actor, dancer
Known for Blue Peter presenter and champion trampolinist

Michael Sundin (1 March 1961 – 23 July 1989) was a television presenter, actor, dancer and trampolinist, who is best remembered for his short time as a Blue Peter presenter (1984-85).

Contents

Career history

After winning five British titles and one World title in British & World Trampolining tournaments, he first entered show business in 1980 when he appeared in the pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk, with Barbara Windsor. He make various television and theatre appearances, both as an actor and dancer, which led to a long run in the Cameron Mackintosh musical Cats, in which he played Bill Bailey in its West End run from 1982-83. He also appeared in the video for Culture Club's video for "I'll Tumble 4 Ya" from 1982.

In 1984, he began rehearsing the character Tik-Tok for the Walt Disney film Return to Oz, and this was covered by the long-running BBC children's magazine programme Blue Peter. Sundin impressed the editor, Biddy Baxter, and was invited to audition for the presenting vacancy left by Peter Duncan; it was his fortune that one of the audition items was to interview someone on a trampoline, and he presented his first programme on 13 September 1984.

After fronting 77 episodes, the editors and production team decided not to renew Sundin's contract after the summer break, because they felt that he had little rapport with the viewers and it was claimed by the editor that some parents and children complained about his effeminacy.[1] However, reports of his gay exploits (see below) are also rumoured to have been a factor. He presented his last show on 24 June 1985. Sundin was very unhappy about this decision, and made his feelings known in the tabloid press.

Sundin subsequently appeared in the 1987 film Lionheart (in which he was incorrectly credited as 'Michel Sundin'). From 1987-88 he was in UK theatre tour of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and a Japanese/Australian tour of Starlight Express.

Personal life

He was born in Low Fell, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear. His parents were Alan and Joyce Sundin, and he had a brother named David.

In 1988 Sundin fell ill. At the age of 28, he died in the Newcastle General Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne. The Times newspaper reported (on 26 July 1989) that he had died of liver cancer, but in fact his death was AIDS-related, and a decision was made that this information would not be released to the press. Earlier the same year Sundin had denied having AIDS.[2] For many years after it was only said that Sundin had died after a long illness.

Controversy

In October 1985, The Daily Mirror printed photographs of him taking part in what was described as a videotaped gay sex show, at London’s Hippodrome Theatre.[3]

In 2007 the former editor of Blue Peter Biddy Baxter was interviewed by the journalist Mark Lawson,[4] transmitted as part of BBC Four’s Children’s TV On Trial week of programmes.[5] For the first time on television, Baxter was confronted about the departure of Sundin. In the interview Baxter remained very uncomfortable with Lawson’s questions about the circumstances of several presenters' departure from the series, and she blamed the press at the time for the inaccurate coverage of Sundin's sacking from the programme because of his sexuality. In previous documentaries and programmes Baxter has avoided addressing such questions about Sundin's involvement in the programme. In the interview she denied that he had been sacked due to his sexuality and said that "It was his leaving the programme because children didn’t like him – nothing to do with his sexual proclivities".

Footnotes

  1. ^ According to Biddy Baxter and Edward Barnes' book Blue Peter: The Inside Story (Letchworth: Ringpress, 1989, p.195)
  2. ^ "Blue Peter Favourite Dies". Press Association Group. 1989-07-25.  
  3. ^ Refer to Tim Latchem (2007-03-16). "Blue Peter: The Dark Side". The Daily Mirror. http://www.mirror.co.uk/showbiz/tm_headline=blue-peter--the-dark-side&method=full&objectid=18762596&siteid=89520-name_page.html. Retrieved 2008-01-22.   Which states "The one-time world trampoline champion was sacked after further details of his gay lifestyle emerged."
  4. ^ Mark Lawson Talks to Biddy Baxter (BBC Four, 31.05.07, dir. David Thompson)
  5. ^ BBC Four TV on Trial

External links

Preceded by
Peter Duncan
Blue Peter Presenter No. 14
1984-85
Succeeded by
Peter Duncan
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