Entertainment & Arts

Revamped Blue Peter moves north

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Media captionPresenters Helen Skelton and Barney Harwood arrive for the first Blue Peter episode in Salford

Children's TV programme Blue Peter has been broadcast from its new home in Salford for the first time, with a new set and a remixed theme tune.

Presenters Helen Skelton and Barney Harwood are on board, but producers have decided not to replace Andy Akinwolere, who left in June.

After 53 years in London, the show is among those to have moved in order to boost the BBC's presence in the north.

Blue Peter will get a new garden on a roof of the MediaCityUK studio complex.

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Media captionHelen Skelton and Barney Harwood show the BBC's Ed Thomas the new Salford studio

Tim Levell, the show's editor, said the programme's purpose would remain the same but that the move was a chance to refresh it.

"Underlying everything, Blue Peter has the same values," he said.

"We are about telling younger viewers about things that are interesting to them - that's always been the same. The wrapping is slightly different but the present inside is still the same."

The classic theme tune has been remixed by production duo Banks and Wag. "It is updated," Levell said. "It's got that electro-pop feel."

He described the new studio as a "wired media hub" in which celebrity guests would speak to viewers live on the phone and webcams.

Image caption Harwood and Skelton, pictured with Barney the dog, will host the show from the brand new studio in Salford

A number of BBC departments, including Children's, Sport and 5 live, are moving to MediaCityUK in Salford.

Akinwolere's departure was "really nothing to do with Salford," Levell said.

"It was purely that he'd done five years on Blue Peter and five years is quite enough for people."

The two remaining presenters will be joined by guest hosts, who will front items about their specialist topics.

They include Deadly 60 presenter Steve Backshall, who will present wildlife slots, and The Apprentice runner-up Saira Khan, who will instruct children how to make money for the Blue Peter appeal.

The new roof garden will feature items from the old garden, such as a ship sculpture and a statue of the beloved Blue Peter dog Petra.

But it has not yet been landscaped and will not be seen on screen for some time.

Levell also confirmed that the Blue Peter annual would not be in shops in 2011. "It's correct that it's not being published this year," he said.

"It has had moments in the past when it's not been published and I hope we'll have one next year."

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