Richard Oliff: My bid for a Blue Peter badge

My brother Tom and I were sitting in his conservatory as he opened his birthday cards and presents.

Invariably, when the two of us get together we tend to reminisce about our childhood.

Tom remains convinced that I was somewhat spoiled when compared to the limited privileges given by our parents to my three siblings.

He recalled our evening dining arrangements as we all sat at the table quietly eating everything that mum had prepared.

No-one would ever consider leaving the table without first asking for permission, and we certainly wouldn’t leave any food to go to waste. Until one day.

Our TV sat in the corner of the living room, and as I sat eating my dinner I remembered that Blue Peter would soon be starting on the BBC.

“Dad?”, “Yes son?”, “Would it be alright if I watched Blue Peter in the living room with my dinner on a tray?”

Dad thought for a second or two and then it happened. A miracle. “Of course you can”.

Tom recalls how the others nearly choked at this hitherto unheard-of lapse in routine, and just sat in amazement as I slipped off my chair to head for the kitchen to retrieve a tray.

I would settle in front of the TV, dinner on lap, and view in wonder at the benefits of sticky-backed plastic.

These were the days when I first started writing songs: lots of songs, and it dawned on me that Blue Peter may like to hear, even feature, some of the tunes I’d composed with my co-writer Graham Law.

To cut a long story short there were two songs in particular that impressed the producer, Biddy Baxter, who said that we showed great promise as songwriters.

We sang Guitar Girl and Love is Like the Weather at every opportunity: mostly at school or the odd church hall.

Then one day the holy grail of recognition arrived in the post: a silver Blue Peter badge.