PETS have been an integral part of children’s show Blue Peter since the 60s.
But programme bosses have decided the move to Salford is the perfect time to phase out the animals as it tries to appeal to modern children.
When the show returns to our screens today (Mon) the top feature is set to be about smartphones and apps designed for and by kids.
While current dog Barney, who is owned by presenter Helen Skelton will remain with the show for the time being, golden retriever Lucy, who died in March, will not be replaced.
Blue Peter’s two cats, Socks and Cookie will move into semi-retirement in Hertfordshire, while tortoise Shelly is not moving to Salford at all.
The show, which has been running since 1958, originally introduced animals to the line-up in 1962.
The introduction of Petra, the show’s longest serving dog, was intended to teach viewers who had a pet how to look after them and act as a surrogate pet to those who didn’t.
One of the most famous pets was collie Shep, who was paired with presenter John Noakes. The dog’s boisterous nature led the presenter to often utter “Get down Shep”, which became the pair’s catchphrase.
Bosses on the show say the move to Salford has allowed them to revamp the show. The Blue Peter garden in now a rooftop space and the show’s theme tune , Barnacle Bill, has been remixed following the move.
The credits have been redesigned and the set has become a “media hub”. By next year, producers hope to allow viewers to interact with celebrities by webcam and email.
Insiders at the BBC say there has been concern that the show has been failing to keep up with the interests of its 6-12 year old target audience.
The changes are designed to attract children at the upper end of the scale, particularly boys.
Programme editor Tim Levell told The Guardian: “It’s fair to say we’re going to experiment a bit more, it’s really crucial for us to tap in more to children’s current passions, what they are talking about in the playground now.”