|Milo and Ella with Blue Peter presenter, Helen|
The programme in question was of course, Blue Peter, a feature of childhood for over 50 years! Excitement was rife here at DZP as we've all grown up with this legendary programme and we were honoured to welcome them.
Blue Peter's fondness of animals is a characteristic evident in every past presenter, regardless of the generation you're from. One of the presenters for this generation and one of the most recognisable women on British television, Helen Skelton, came to see what it's like being a part of DZP and spend the day with Milo and Ella Mee, along with the 200 animals that famously changed their lives.
TV crews and cameras are not a strange sight for Milo and Ella, who both agree that it feels "special" seeing yourself and your home on television. However this did not alter their excitement upon realising that the blonde haired woman walking towards them was Helen. Milo recalls saying "Is that Helen? Yes it is!". Ella's disbelief was much more subtle.
They were both quick to mention how enthusiastic they were about the prospect of meeting Helen and appearing on Blue Peter, "I used to watch it all the time before our TV broke!" says Ella. One disappointment added by Ella was that during a meeting with the director on the day before the whole crew arrived, he said he'd be bringing the current Blue Peter dog, Barney, which Ella was very much looking forward to. Unfortunately Barney couldn't make it and Ella insists that it did not dampen the day.
The day commenced with Milo and Ella being woken up 10 minutes before the crew arrived! They were rushed through the morning routine and promptly met the Blue Peter crew near the bears' enclosure. Next, they accompanied the crew as they shot some behind the scenes footage of the keepers unpacking the fruit and veg for that day.
The day involved lots of walking around for the cameras with shots being taken again and again. "You had to do things more than once, which was kind of like being on a TV show" as an actress, as oppose to a guest. Similarly, when asked to talk through how he found the day with Blue Peter, Milo simply exclaimed "Out-takes!"
As the day progressed, the animals of the zoo were involved more. Helen, Milo and Ella were at the centre of public talks involving the Coati, Meerkats and Otters. The female Otter, Attitude, clearly didn't take kindly to sharing the limelight as she lived up to her name by screaming, prompting Ella to ask, with a hint of sarcasm "Can anybody guess which one is Attitude?".
The Coati were much more forgiving, and allowed all three into the enclosure, needless to say, food was exchanged with the Coati as a bribe. Inside the Coati enclosure, Helen conducted an interview with Milo and Ella. Milo found the experience to be enjoyable, as such close encounters with the animals are not often allowed, and the Coati are among his favourites. When questioned about spending the day with Helen, Ella replied "It was amazing, similar to the Matt Damon 'thing', very unusual but fun".
The day was nearly over but it wouldn't be right to come to DZP without paying a personal visit to our big cats; the largest selection in the South West. They made their way to the tiger enclosure occupied by Vlad, Blotch and Stripe and entered the tiger house where all three beasts were waiting for them... Soon after their safe escape, it was time to feed the tigers. Exactly what they'd be fed was unbeknown to Helen. As she grabbed the ambiguous meat, she turned to Ella inquisitively and asked "What is this?". Ella, said nonchalantly "A horse's neck". Helen got to grips with this disturbing yet understandable concept and placed the meat in the enclosure, ready for the tigers to feast. With authorised clearance, there was a call over the radio system... "Release the tigers!" And with that they came out of their house and went straight for their food. Job done.
After a busy day in the shoes (or wellies!) of a DZP employee, they retired to the Jaguar Restaurant for refreshments. Shortly after arriving, Milo and Ella were presented with the illustrious prize of Blue Peter badges. "It felt good getting one," said Ella. "But I want a gold one!" Milo added "We only thought Dad would get one, but now we get to do free stuff!". Clearly the hot chocolate was reward in itself and perhaps the majesty of the sacred Blue Peter badge is best understood and appreciated by those who may not watch the show now, but certainly remember it fodnly for its influence during their own childhood.
A great time was had by all those involved, Helen even purchased a souvenir from the gift shop. When asked about her day at DZP she responded with characteristic elation and modesty, saying "It was amazing, what I do isn't really a 'job'". Thank you to Blue Peter for this experience, from everyone at DZP.