Blue Peter discovers Belize

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 13, No. 32            September 4, 2003

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The most popular children's television program in Britain, Blue Peter, is currently discovering Belize and reportedly, loving every minute of it.

    The Blue Peter crew, led by Producer/Director/Cameraman Alex Leger, filmed life in and around San Pedro on Monday and The San Pedro Sun was invited along for part of the adventure. The day started with the crew fishing for lobster with an experienced guide - Belize Rural South Area Representative Manuel Heredia Jr. - who led the film crew to his traps at picturesque Congrejo Caye. Following this, the day was spent sailing the crystal blue waters of Ambergris Caye, courtesy of TMM Bareboat Vacations catamarans with one brief stop to swim and snorkel with the sharks and rays at Shark-Ray Alley. The day ended in a relaxing beach barbecue at Casa Caracol. This segment of the Blue Peter photo shoot featured the soothing rhythms of Lenny and Neville, scrumptious grilled lobster and a few lessons in mastering the "limbo stick".

    Blue Peter Producer Alex Leger, who has been with the show for some 28 years, commented on the "equable" climate and the lovely breezes of "La Isla Bonita." He explained he first learned of Belize while "chatting in a pub" more than three years ago. As a matter of coincidence, it was a man from his own village, Claude Belanger, an "archaeologist of a sort" who has spent the past ten years at Belize's Lamanai Maya ruins, who shared the information and encouraged the producer to visit. A "scouting trip" made in July established the necessary contacts and production plans were set into motion.

    The Blue Peter Belize expedition includes "presenters" Liz Barker and Simon Thomas, and Sound Manager Collin Bowes. According to the show's producer, the Belize program is split between the mainland and the cayes. Before arriving in San Pedro, the group began their adventure at the ruins of Lamanai accompanied by Belize Commissioner of Archeology Jaime Awe, and then witnessed how the Mennonite people have influenced life here in Belize. On Tuesday, the Blue Peter crew captured exquisite footage while traveling by helicopter to the Xunantunich Maya ruins for a glimpse of this ancient culture. From there they ventured south to Punta Gorda via a cocoa plantation and a stop in Hopkins. The Blue Peter team received a real taste of the Garifuna culture, as they learned to make Cassava bread in nearby Barranca, and concoct a drink called Kuhuh. A stop at Green Hill and Fallen Stones Butterfly Farms gave the group a splendid opportunity to observe the magnificent Blue Morpheus butterflies raised there.

    "These brilliant creatures are shipped from Belize to as far away as Stratford-on-Avon, Shake-speare's birthplace, in England. Since Belize was formerly British Honduras, this act of sharing, illustrates a small historical link, a type of bond between our two countries," commented Mr. Leger.

    Blue Peter returns to San Pedro this weekend for one more glimpse of the beautiful Belize Caribbean. Aided by Amigos del Mar Dive Shop, they will dive the world's second largest barrier reef, experience the wonders of Hol Chan and then explore the magnificent Blue Hole.

   These particular episodes of Blue Peter in Belize will be aired in the United Kingdom sometime in early January on the British Broadcasting Channel (BBC). The first viewing will take place on BBC1 on a Monday at 5:00 p.m. with the second to air the following day, at the same time, on BBC2.

    When Blue Peter is not filming in exotic locations, the show is produced inside studios located at Shepherd's Bush, London. Originating in 1958, a popular part of its program is awarding deserving members of its viewing audience with Blue Peter badges, a coveted token among British children (and adults, as we recently observed!). Entertaining as well as educational, Blue Peter honors those who promote conservation, humanitarianism, and demonstrate unselfish acts of kindness, which benefit all creatures. Currently in its 45th year of production, the program is said to appeal to a broad range of viewers, from six to eighty years of age.

    The entire Blue Peter production crew expresses their gratitude to all the wonderful people of Belize who made this segment possible, with special thanks to Archaeological Commissioner Jaime Awe.
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