Legendary BBC television presenter John Noakes' career started when he was brought in as a third presenter on the top-rating children's show Blue Peter. Together with Peter Purves and Valerie Singleton the trio created the glory years of the programme.

John Noakes' blend of slightly desperate daredevil action sequences (nobody who saw him being thrown out of an aeroplane with the Red Devils can ever forget it), combined with his irrepressible Yorkshire sense of humour made him an instant hit.

Whilst Noakes and Purves were unofficially vying for the title of most popular Blue Peter presenter, the real battle was between the Blue Peter pets. As well as the obligatory disappearing cats, Purves had a retriever called Petra but Noakes managed to completely steal the show with his Collie, Shep. Anybody who lived in Britain through the 1970s will remember John Noakes and Shep traipsing over the moors, frolicking round the Blue Peter garden or just sitting patiently on the studio sofa.

For John Noakes, as with many ex-Blue Peter presenters, there was life after the show. "Go With Noakes" was a series in which he and Shep went wandering around the British Isles, pointing out the wonders and scenery of this little island. And towards the end of the second series of this programme, when Shep passed away, the nation mourned the loss of its best-known dog. John Noakes continues to work for the BBC, and today is most commonly found presenting the occasional news item on Countryfile, a half-hour programme each Sunday devoted to rural issues.

Finally, it is impossible to write about John Noakes without mentioning his most famous catchphrase, the source of a thousand school playground jokes:

Down Shep, Down!

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