Valerie trained as a dancer at the Arts Education School.  She studied for two years at RADA (winning a one-term scholarship) and spent a year at Bromley Repertory as an assistant stage manager, playing small parts.  Over the next few years, Val did a lot of acting in both theatre and on TV.  A number one tour, Nest of Robins starring Jessie Matthews and Sonnie Hale was followed by a season at the Arts Theatre in Cambridge and the Theatre Royal, Bath.  In 1959, she starred in five episodes of the BBC sitcom The Adventures of Brigadier Wellington-Bull and also became one of the top female voiceover commentators for TV commercials.

Valerie became a BBC TV in-vision announcer in February 1962 and not long after auditioned for Blue Peter (April 1962).  Anita West was chosen instead of her but left after four months for personal family reasons and Valerie was then asked to take over.  She became one of the iconic and longest-serving presenters, from September 1962 until 3rd July 1972 – fondly remembered by many as the classic, ‘golden era’ line-up of Val, John (Noakes) and Pete (Purves).  She continued to appear occasionally in the studio from 14th September 1972 until 23rd December 1974 and finally on 19th January 1976, and also on film from 8th January 1973 until 25th May 1976.  She also popped up for special anniversaries, proudly wearing her gold badge which was awarded in 1994.  She presented: Blue Peter Royal Safari with HRH The Princess Anne (1971); Blue Peter Special Assignment (1973 – 1976 and 1981); Val Meets the VIPs (1973).  She appeared on the annual Christmas show All Star Record Breakers (1974 and 1975).

Valerie moved to adult TV and presented Nationwide’s ‘Consumer Desk’ with Richard Stilgoe (1973 – 1975).  She was also a main presenter on the programme for a year, from 1977.  She then worked on the Tonight programme (1978 – 1979), The Money Programme (1980 – c. 1988) and was a regular presenter on BBC Radio 4’s PM (1981 – c. 1992).  She was awarded the OBE for her services to children’s television in 1994 and is now a travel writer.

During August 2018 within the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Valerie appeared with fellow ‘Blue Peter’ presenters Peter Purves, Janet Ellis, Peter Duncan, Mark Curry and Tim Vincent, in a comedy play called Once Seen in Blue Peter.

Paul R. Jackson corresponded with Val in September 2017 and asked how she got the job as a BBC TV announcer? “This would take too long to tell you.  You will have to come to one of my talks!  Too many anecdotes and not enough time to type them up – I’m sorry.  I did present when Richard Dimbleby was in the same studio as me and linked up with the first satellite.  Great to work with such a brilliant presenter.”

Paul asked where she had been based for the different TV roles: “TV Centre for announcing.  Lime Grove for Blue Peter and Nationwide.  BP moved to TV Centre and The Money Programme started in Lime Grove and went to the TV Centre.”  Did you join BBC Presentation in February 1962?  “Yes.  I joined BP in September 1962 and did announcing and BP together for about two years and then gave up announcing to do BP full-time in 1964.”  Did you leave Presentation for Blue Peter?  “Yes.  BP wasn’t that hard in the early days – only once a week and quite casual, until Biddy Baxter arrived (November 1962)!  I also did quite a lot in the 1990s but not for the BBC.  A quiz programme for Channel 4 and two series called Playback for The History channel.  As well as getting into travel writing.  Still working!”

 

Personal Information

Date of Birth: 9th April 1937
Age: 81
Honours: OBE


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Video Clips on the Internet

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Acknowledgements

FEATURE IMAGE:

PICTURED: Valerie Singleton (Nationwide). SUPPLIED BY: Valerie Singleton. COPYRIGHT: BBC.

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