Valerie Singleton: Wikis

  
  
  

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Valerie Singleton
Born 9 April 1937 (1937-04-09) (age 72)
Hitchin, Hertfordshire
Years active 1959–Present

Valerie Singleton OBE (born 9 April 1937) is an English television and radio presenter, best known as a presenter of the popular children's series, Blue Peter. She was educated at the independent The Arts Educational School, in Tring, Hertfordshire, to which the school had relocated from London at the outbreak of the Second World War.

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Early life

Singleton wanted to be a dancer and for two years attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA). She won a scholarship for her first term and began her career as an actress at the New Theatre in Bromley. In 1959, she starred in the sitcom The Adventures of Brigadier Wellington-Bull.

Blue Peter

She joined the BBC in 1961 as a continuity announcer and in 1962 joined Blue Peter where she stayed until 1972. She continued until 1975 in a part-time role as a 'roving reporter'. Along with John Noakes she continues to be more closely associated with Blue Peter than any other former presenter. (Singleton was for a long time credited for being the 3rd presenter, but the disclosure in 1998 of Anita West as her predecessor meant she slipped down to 4th.) During her time on Blue Peter, Singleton accompanied HRH Princess Anne (now The Princess Royal) on her first solo trip overseas in a Kenyan Royal Safari in 1971. In 1998, the two women met to reminisce about the Royal safari for one of Blue Peter's fortieth anniversary programmes.

Although she stopped presenting Blue Peter full-time in 1972 she continued her regular appearances, and was credited as a presenter, through to 1975. The documentary on the Royal Safai led to a spin-off series, Blue Peter Special Assignment in which Singleton was solo presenter. It was shown at weekends and ran from 1972-81. Each edition focussed initially on European capital cities, but later covered Islands and well-known historic figures. After making the last of her 'in studio' appearances on Blue Peter in the spring of 1975, Singleton returned in January 1976 for the last time to mark the death of the original Blue Peter cat, Jason. This was the first occasion she was not credited as a presenter on the show's titles and marked the end of her long association with the programme. Just a few weeks later, producer Edward Barnes wrote to tell her that as she was no longer associated with the show in any genuine sense, they were replacing her as the presenter of the Special Assignment series. Her fees were also deemed a factor in their decision.[1] However, Singleton returned for a final series of the Special Assignment spin off in 1981 reporting on the Yukon and Niagara Rivers. During her time on Blue Peter, Singleton also presented another BBC children's show, Val Meets... The VIPS, a chatshow which ran for three series during 1973-74.[2] Each edition featured an interview with a single public figure to which an audience of children were invited to put across their questions. A guest in March 1973 was the Secretary of State for Education, Margaret Thatcher, who when asked if she would like to be Prime Minister said that she did not have enough experience, nor would there be a woman Prime Minister in her lifetime.

Later work

In October 1973, Singleton joined Nationwide as the show's "Consumer Unit" presenter with Richard Stilgoe, later becoming one of the main hosts of the show. She left in 1978 to present the BBC's late night news programme Tonight, replacing Sue Lawley. She hosted many other programmes, notably Radio 4's PM and BBC Two's The Money Programme. During her period on PM she made headlines when she threw a glass of water in the face of her co-presenter while on air. When she quit Radio 4's PM in 1993, she presented a travel programme for ITV and is now a regular travel writer for several national publications. She also appeared as herself in the BBC TV comedy series Citizen Smith.

Singleton was awarded the OBE for her services to children's television, in 1994. She still makes occasional guest appearances on Blue Peter.

In the 1990s she presented a popular quiz on Channel 4 - Backdate. She was an early enthusiast and patron of the painter Jack Vettriano.[3] In 2006, Singleton made a series of tongue-in-cheek 'makes' in the style of Blue Peter for VintageLadyBird to coincide with the release of the Ladybird Book for Boys And Girls, Things To Make & Do With Valerie Singleton.[4] In 2005, the story of Singleton's move out of London to Dorset and the sale of the flat she'd lived in for over forty years was reported in The Times.[5] According to Metro Newspaper in 2007, Singleton intended to publish her biography in time for Blue Peter's fiftieth anniversary in October 2008. According to the article, she will reveal "a few things that will shock".[6] However, the book is yet to be published.

Singleton has been seen on BBC Television for much of 2009 fronting a campaign of 'informercials' to promote the BBC's iPlayer.

Personal life

In a candid interview for the Daily Mail in June 2008, Singleton discussed several issues about her personal life and previous relationships.[7] She firmly dismissed persistent rumours that had dogged her for 30 years that she was a lesbian, that had started after she interviewed rock musician Joan Armatrading in 1978, insisting that nothing could be further from truth and had probably dissuaded men from approaching her. Singleton also revealed several relationships and affairs with a number of men including actor Albert Finney and fellow presenter Peter Purves.

She disclosed that she had had an abortion in 1963 after a brief affair with Richard Wade, a BBC staff writer, after fears that the pregnancy would be detrimental to her career. A long term relationship with Daily Express journalist Philip Geddes ended in 1983 when Geddes died in the IRA bomb attack on Harrods in London.

Singleton admitted that many of the men in her life had been younger, including her last boyfriend who was a builder and 24 years her junior. Although Singleton had been engaged in 1967 to radio DJ Pete Murray, the couple drifted apart and Singleton has never married. Singleton lives alone in Dorset.

TV personality Stephen Fry once said:

"I have been pondering this business of fame since I was young enough to know Valerie Singleton from the Queen and for Americans and other non-Britons I should explain: One is a remote, god-like, autocratic woman endowed with powerful charismatic charm and the other is a constitutional monarch recently played on screen by Helen Mirren".[8]

References

External links

Preceded by
Anita West
Blue Peter Presenter No. 4
1962-1972 (plus 1972–1975 part time)
Succeeded by
Lesley Judd

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