Petra was a female mongrel that appeared on Blue Peter between 1962 and 1977. Petra was the first Blue Peter pet, and remains one of the best known. To date (May 2011) Petra is the longest serving Blue Peter pet.
She was weighed on one of the episodes and found to weigh about 2 stone. She had several puppies, including Patch, who also became a Blue Peter pet, and who predeceased her. Petra lost her teeth at an early age, but this was not necessarily a bad thing; Blue Peter presenter Peter Purves once said that she was often bad-tempered and would "gum you to death" if she had the chance.
When Peter Purves started working on the Blue Peter show and became Petra's handler on the set, Petra had already been on the show for approximately seven years. Petra was an irritable nervous dog on the set, therefore, Biddy Baxter had the idea that Purves should be Petra's permanent keeper, and so he looked after her at his home too. He became fond of Petra and was sad when she died, having been her owner for more than six years.
There is a bust of Petra in the Blue Peter garden. It originally stood in front of BBC Television Centre but was moved to the garden in 1984 due to redevelopment works.
It was later revealed that the original (unnamed) puppy had died of distemper a few days after her first appearance on Blue Peter, broadcast just before Christmas 1962. Instead of informing viewers, and feeling there was no need to upset children needlessly, the programme's director and producer Edward Barnes and Biddy Baxter bought a similar-looking replacement puppy, which was subsequently named Petra by the viewers.