Star of stage and screen Mark Curry followed a long line of successful actors from John Noakes and Peter Duncan when he secured a role of presenter of the BBC flagship children’s series Blue Peter in 1980. Beginning his broadcasting career for Yorkshire Television before settling in Manchester where he presented the children’s Saturday morning show Get Set For Summer alongside Peter Powell and Lucie Skeaping. The first time that he stepped foot inside TV Centre was in 1982 when he featured in the legendary Christmas All Star Record Breakers alongside a plethora of stars from children’s TV. Unbeknown to Mark, this was the beginning of his relationship with the home of TV which he would become accustomed to in the coming years.
Press play, below, to listen to the full interview
Or watch the unedited zoom call on youtube
This was set to become a reality just four years later when he joined the presenting team of Peter Duncan and Sarah Greene on the flagship children’s series Blue Peter. It was here when Mark truly understood the magic of TV Centre and the many people who contributed to it being a vibrant hotbed of creative talent. Established chief editor Biddy Baxter was the absolute beating heart of the show, taking care of everything from directing and producing to creating the master models for the ‘here’s one I made earlier’ sections. For twenty years Baxter had steered the Blue Peter ship in what many consider to be a very male dominated era and laid the foundations for the show’s longevity. A legend of TV production, Biddy knew about every aspect of Blue Peter and had a vision for its exact execution. Such leadership left Mark in absolutely no doubt over his purpose in the series and because of this direction, he became a better broadcaster and performer.
After leaving the loving family of Blue Peter in 1989, Mark then joined another children’s television institution in the form of Record Breakers. This was tinged with a degree of sadness as the reason for his inclusion was to stand in for the legendary Roy Castle who was suffering from ill health. Mark was able to fulfil the more showbiz side of the show but was determined not to be labelled as Castle’s direct replacement because Roy was very much a significant part of the series. Yet as a fellow actor and performer, he ensured that the vaudevillian aspect of Record Breakers was able to continue. Sadly this was to be Mark’s last major television series from BBC Television Centre: a place which had been so instrumental to his career and helped to make him one of the most prolific and influential TV stars of the 1980’s. For a short but significant period in his career, Television Centre had been the place where all his entertainment dreams came true and he left it as a better performer than when he first entered.
Since his days at TV Centre, Mark has presented the ITV quiz show Catchphrase, become a sports commentator on BBC Radio 5Live presiding over the coverage of Wimbledon. In 2016 he joined the cast of the West End version of Wicked: a role which he still honours until this day. Yet his fondness and admiration for Television Centre still surround him as people of a certain age shall forever associate him with the glory days of Blue Peter. It was a pleasure to talk to the great Mark Curry about his memories of Television Centre and may these memories prove that it may be gone but never forgotten.