Why the Blue Peter badge is so sought after

This iconic badge is 50 years old and just as popular - with a thriving black market

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David Beckham’s got one, so have Gary Barlow, Tiger Woods and Sir Elton John. Even the Queen received one when she visited the programme studios in 2001. And presenter Richard Beacon admits he was forced to give his back when he was axed from the show in 1998 for taking cocaine.

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Yes, we’re talking about the iconic Blue Peter Badge, which celebrates its 50th birthday today.

Part of the reason a Blue Peter Badge is much sought after is that it allows the holder free entry into some 200 attractions around the country, including Chessington World of Adventures, Madame Tussauds and Legoland.

Because the badges offer such a valuable concession, they began to be traded on the black market, forcing the BBC to solve the problem by issuing an ID card to go with the pin. Without the essential card, a badge doesn’t work, although they are still readily available on ebay.

So how do you get one the right way?
The much-coveted award is given out to people who appear on the show or in recognition of achievement. It can be applied for by children between 6-15 years old and was launched on June 17, 1963. 

Since then, badges have been given to around 22,000 recipients each year. and now comes in six colours. Blue badges can be won by viewers  sending in an interesting letter, poem, picture or story, with anyone making a second contribution getting a silver pin.

Green is for environmental contributions, orange for competition winners and purple for children who take an active role in a show. A gold badge is given out after an outstanding achievement or to those who demonstrate exceptional bravery.

Gold badges have so far been given to one pony and six dogs, as well as 764 children.

Earlier this month, Blue Peter launched a new “sports badge”, available for a limited time and awarded to children who can demonstrate a contribution to the development of a sporting legacy following last summer’s Olympics.

In light of the fact that the number of children watching the show has fallen by two-thirds since the programme was relegated from BBC1 to CBBC last year, perhaps your (ahem, your child’s) chances of getting one is slightly higher…

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