Barney Harewood is new Blue Peter presenter

CBBC star Barney Harwood is to become the new presenter of Blue Peter, it was announced today.

Harwood, known to young viewers for his role on shows such as Bear Behaving Badly, and as a co-host with Basil Brush, will become the 35th presenter on the long-running show.

He will replace Joel Defries who leaves the flagship programme this week.

Harwood, from Blackpool, will take his seat alongside co-presenters Andy Akinwolere and Helen Skelton on January 17.

Viewers of the BBC1 show were told of Harwood's appointment this afternoon. He is currently in rehearsals for his role in the pantomime Peter Pan in Lichfield, Staffordshire.

He said: "Being a children's presenter is an ambition that I have already fulfilled but becoming a Blue Peter presenter is simply the icing on the cake.

"I cannot wait to start work with Andy and Helen, wear my badge on screen for the very first time and tackle some exciting challenges."

Barney was a pop hopeful before his TV career, joining boy band Goal at the age of 17.

Two years later he joined music show Planet Pop, later moving to CBBC show Smile. He won a children's Bafta in 2007.

Other programmes include Basil And Barney's Swap Shop with Basil Brush, Prank Patrol and Bear Behaving Badly, alongside mischievous Nev The Bear.

Harwood, a keen musician, has also contributed to the music for a number of programmes.

Blue Peter editor Tim Levell said: "Barney is a household name for CBBC viewers.

"He is a versatile presenter with a wealth of passion and experience and is a great new member to the Blue Peter team."

Blue Peter, which is screened twice a week, was first launched in 1958.

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