Petra

Pet type: Dog

Born: 1962

Died: 14 Sep 1977

Owner:


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Petra was the first of the Blue Peter pets - and millions of children felt she was at least partly theirs throughout the 1960s and 1970s.

She made her first appearance on the last Blue Peter programme before Christmas 1962 when the head of children's television, Owen Reed, appeared on the screen with a large cardboard box covered with Christmas paper and ribbons.

He gave it to presenters Christopher Trace and Valerie Singleton who cut the ribbon, opened the box and revealed a tiny eight-week-old black and brown mongrel puppy.

Years after Petra’s death it was revealed that this first puppy only ever made that one appearance on television and sadly died of distemper two days later.

Rather than upset their young viewers, the show's then editor Biddy Baxter, who oversaw the programme from 1962 to 1988, and producer Edward Barnes set off in his Mini to scour London for a puppy that looked just the same.

They struck lucky in a Lewisham pet shop and bought an identical puppy. No viewers ever spotted the difference.

A competition was held for viewers to choose a name for the dog – starting a tradition which remained in place for all the Blue Peter pets who followed – and Petra was duly named.

In September 1965 Petra gave birth to eight puppies. Seven were given to good homes or organisations, but the eighth was kept as a second Blue Peter dog and named Patch by the viewers.

When Peter Purves joined Blue Peter as a presenter the same year, Biddy Baxter suggested that Petra went to live with him and his family inbetween shows. Although she was a nervous dog with some health problems and a bit of a temper she re-awakened Peter’s love of dogs which has continued ever since. Petra lived with Peter until her death in September 1977. She had made almost 1,200 appearances on the programme.

Famously a bust of Petra was commissioned by the BBC which stood in front of Television Centre before being moved to the Blue Peter garden.

Useful links:
www.bbc.co.uk
Television Heaven
Full list of all the Blue Peter pets

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Pet type: Dog

Born: 1962

Died: 14 Sep 1977

Owner:


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Your memories and messages


Petra was lovely. I didn't have a dog when I used to watch her on Blue Peter. It did feel a bit as if she was mine.

I always remember Petra sitting calmly in the studio. She seemed such a lovely good-natured dog. I suppose reading this that she had her bad days like everyone. Glad she had a long life.

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Pet type: Dog

Born: 1962

Died: 14 Sep 1977

Owner:


Gifts for Petra

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Pet type: Dog

Born: 1962

Died: 14 Sep 1977

Owner:


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