Blue Peter Special Assignment

Series 4: Great Houses
Episode 1: The Prince Regent at Brighton

Directed by Sarah Hellings
Written and Researched By Dorothy Smith

Episode aired Sunday 23rd May 1976

  • With Valerie Singleton

    The Voice Of The Prince Regent . . . . . . . . . . Frank Finlay
    A Young Manthe Prince . . . . . . . . . . . Stuart Myers
    An Old Manthe Prince . . . . . . . . . Dennis Jennings
    Maria Fitzherbert . . . . . . . . . Leonie Jessel

    The Prince Regent and Disraeli, Pavlova and Darwin, Keats and Raleigh - great names of history whose houses still exist and provide a living link with the past. Blue Peter goes back in time and brings to life the people who made the houses famous.

    1: The Prince Regent at Brighton

    'I consider the whole of this work to be perfect,' the Prince declared as he surveyed his new summer palace, His Majesty's Royal Marine Pavilion at Brighton.

    Frank was a long time Brighton resident having a house for over 30 years in Wyndham Street, Kemptown. The "Finlay Bar" in The Lantern Theatre at ACT Brighton is named after him.

  • Blue Peter Special Assignment is a factual BBC TV series broadcast in the 1970s and early 1980s, the first spin-off from the long running BBC series Blue Peter. It ran regularly from 1973 until 1981, usually at weekends on BBC1, and was heavily promoted on Blue Peter itself. The concept for the series was developed after Valerie Singleton had presented a successful documentary 'special' with HRH Princess Anne when she had visited Kenya in 1971 (albeit narrated by Biddy Baxter). The Special Assignment series was mainly produced by Edward Barnes and presented initially by Valerie Singleton and later by Peter Purves and Lesley Judd both of whom had been presenters on Blue Peter itself.

    Series One featured Valerie Singleton looking at six European Capital Cities. These included Rome, Paris, London, Edinburgh, Amsterdam and Brussels. The first programme to be filmed was the one featuring Rome and included a personal address to the children of Britain from Pope Paul VI in The Vatican.

    Series Two continued to feature Singleton looking at European Cities and included Dublin, York and Madrid. Later series looked at Islands and included The Isle of Wight, The Isle of Man, Hong Kong, Malta and Venice, even though Venice had also featured in an earlier series as a 'city'. Later the show began to look at famous houses or famous individuals and included biographies of Vivaldi, The Bronte Sisters, The Duke of Wellington, Saint Therese of Lisieux, Marie Antoinette and Rudyard Kipling and both Lesley Judd and Peter Purves began presenting the series in place of Singleton.

    The series in 1977 was presented jointly by Peter Purves and Lesley Judd, with the theme of 'twin towns'.

    The final series was co-presented alternately by Singleton and Peter Purves, being broadcast in 1981. The series theme was 'Rivers', with Singleton examining the Yukon and Niagara, while Purves reported on the Tamar, the Tweed and the Singapore Rivers.