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Blue Peter admit 'competition winners' were child actors


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Blue Peter admit 'competition winners' were child actors


By DUNCAN ROBERTSON - More by this author » Last updated at 08:33am on 9th November 2007 commentIconSm.gif Comments (20)

Blue Peter was at the centre of a fresh controversy last night after it admitted two competition winners were child actors.

The BBC 1 children's favourite recruited two talented mimics from a drama group to make an item on the show more entertaining.


It follows two other Blue Peter scandals earlier this year in which bosses changed the results of a vote to name the show's cat and asked a visitor to pretend to be a competition winner.

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bluepeterBBC_468x324.jpgStorm of controversy: Blue Peter presenters



In the latest deception, children were asked to apply to the Blue Peter website for an opportunity to go to the show's studios and interview Dead Ringers impersonator John Culshaw.


Six children were chosen, but after the show it emerged two had been picked from a local drama group to liven up the slot.


Each child was asked to come up with a question and joke with John Culshaw as he impersonated a number of celebrities.


It is understood that the show's producers enlisted the help of the actors to make sure the item went according to plan.


Last night a BBC spokesman admitted it was wrong that viewers were given the impression that all the competition winners had contacted the programme through the website.


He said: "Blue Peter organised a light-hearted item in which children got to meet Jon Culshaw and ask him questions which he would answer with an impersonation.


"Of the six children who appeared, four had contacted the programme through the website and two were invited to join them from a drama group.


"The children were all asked to prepare their own questions. None of the children was paid, the item in question was not a competition and no prizes were offered or awarded.


"It would have been preferable not to have given viewers the impression that all the children in the item had contacted the programme through the website.


"In recent months we've taken a number of measures to ensure we get these things completely right, including the introduction of special training, so that viewers can continue to have complete confidence in the programme."


This latest scandal is deeply embarrassing for Blue Peter as it tries to win back the trust of its young audience.


Earlier this year Ofcom punished the BBC with a £50,000 fine over a charity phone-in fiasco. More than 14,000 callers paid 10p to enter the charity competition, but after a technical difficulty a girl from the studio audience was chosen to pose as the winner.


In September, bosses ignored online viewers who voted to name a kitten Cookie and named it Socks instead.


Viewers received a full apology for the deception and Richard Marson, the Blue Peter editor during the scandal, was moved from his post and quit the BBC.

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