Former children’s TV star Peter Duncan appears in musical

The conversation with former Blue Peter presenter Peter Duncan did go down an unexpected path.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 25th September 2015, 7:30 am
Peter Duncan in Hairspray
Peter Duncan in Hairspray

I spoke to him on the phone ahead of his latest theatrical performance in the musical Hairspray coming to the Royal and Derngate in Northampton. And in a lunch break, he shared his thoughts on appearing in the show, the unintended consequences of health and safety legislation and his passion for looking after women before, during, and after childbirth.

And yet one couldn’t help but agree with him as we chatted to him about his role in Hairspray, the musical coming to the Royal and Derngate.

Peter said: “The show is set in 1960s Baltimore and tells the story of Tracy who is a girl with a big heart and big hair.

“I play Wilbur who is happily married to Edna who is played by a man normally and it is a traditional musical theatre.

“But it is something that has a lot of depth and is very much of the period.

“We have a very young cast and you have to match their energy and enthusiasm. There are a lot of actors of my age who would limit themselves but I am not like that. I want the young people in the cast to think I am a lot younger than I actually am.

“I was speaking to Tony who plays my wife and he thought I was his age which I was very pleased about.

“I was actually very lucky. I auditioned for the part and got offered it. I was told that no one else had auditioned for it so I felt I should say yes. But I am very happy to be here and am enjoying it.”

He was also looking for a different challenge when taking on another role.

“I have been doing a lot of very serious theatre and thought it would be nice to do something a little lighter.

“It is a huge cast made up of 29 people and am loving been part of it.

He is best known for his time hosting much loved children’s television show Blue Peter. And he hopes children have his same spirit of adventure.

Peter said: “Blue Peter came about because I had been doing a children’s television series called King Cinder all about Speedway and I thought this would be a nice fun job to do.

“In a way I took over from John Noakes and doing all the adventure things. I suspect that a lot of the things I did on Blue Peter you could not do because health and safety.

“One of the unintended consequences of the health and safety legislation, especially when you are working with young people, is that children can not do some of the things over worries about what would happen if one of those young people were involved in the accident.

“There is a fine line between keeping young people safe and giving them experiences which they will remember.

He is also passionate about the welfare of women who are giving birth, a subject he casted doubt that would be written about when the article was published.

Peter added: “My wife is now involved in Neighbourhood Midwives and I will be doing some fundraising not for that but for the mother’s fund.

“It is a charity which helps women while they are pregnant but also afterwards as well and is about ensuring women know who their midwives are.

“The Western model of being hospitalised is a flawed model and it is not just me saying that. There are maternity reviews in place which have stated this.

“My wife has been a midwife and it is from when we have had our children is why we have got involved in this.”

It can be seen from Monday September 28 to Saturday October 3. For tickets call on 01604 624811 or visit