TV… Remembering A Real Life Superhero, Blue Peter’s Christopher Wenner / Max Stahl Who Changed the World

#1970s #1980s #1990s

 

On the journalist, Max Stahl formerly known as Christopher Wenner…

 

Not a lot of people know that this Blue Peter presenter reinvented his name and became an award-winning journalist and Timor citizen.

 

 

I was sad to learn that another of my favourites from my childhood favourite show Blue Peter (1958-) had passed away at the end of October. This presenter was Christopher Wenner who worked ón the show for two years from 1978 to 1980.

After this role, he had a small speaking part in Doctor Who (1993-). Wenner then later became a prize-winning and daring journalist and filmmaker and changed his name in the 1990s. And since then had used his original first name Max and his mother’s maiden name Stahl.

 

Blue Peter (1978-80)

Seventies Time-Machine, Facebook

If you don’t know anything about Blue Peter (1958-), – and British kids of all ages will get this reference – as HERE‘s a post I did earlier. It was then and still is a kids’ show with special reports, guest stars and making things out of throwaway rubbish such as loo roll tubes and sticky back plastic. The show was as you grow older was one where the presenters became less like long lost uncles and aunties – see the reign of John Noakes, Peter Purves and Valerie Singleton – but where many of us found our first telly crushes after relatively younger presenters took over.

Christopher Wenner was my (only) Blue Peter crush, and at the time, I was somewhere between the ages of 9 and 11 (Wenner was preceded as an on-screen crush by the late Keith Chegwin – of Multicoloured Swap Shop (1976-82) –  and followed by Larry Hagman from Dallas (1978-91)). He presented the show with Lesley Judd, Simon Groom, Tina Heath and a presenter I did a rather good impersonation of, Sarah Greene during his time on the show and it says HERE

 … his derring-do commended him to viewers and the production team.

Wenner was a hit with his boyish looks and lovely dulcet English accent, and I adored him when he abseiled down the BBC TV East building, motorcycled, talked about National treasures, mingled with Star Wars actors. Someone close to me told me he helped set up double entendres for the Blue Peter king of innuendo, Simon Groom.

 

Doctor Who, The Awakening, Se21 Ep 5 and 6 (1984)

Graeme Allen, @graemeallen, Twitter

Before Blue Peter, as a student in the 1970s, Wenner was a member of the Dramatic Society at Oxford University. He returned to acting in the Doctor Who (1963-) episode, The Awakening with the fifth Doctor, Peter Davison in Season 21, which I vaguely remember after seeing those internet stills of this episode. The plot is described HERE by Wikipedia as;

set in the fictional English village of Little Hodcombe in 1984. In the serial, a psychic alien creature called the Malus takes control of Sir George Hutchinson (Denis Lill) to feed and awaken it with the help of deadly re-enactments of the English Civil War.

In his role, Wenner’s role sadly became a small uncredited and unspeaking one. He played the role of “second trooper” in this episode and his talking scenes ended up on the cutting room floor, after the final cut. But he can still be seen sometimes on horseback and with a flag and a goatee, but sadly not heard.  But by the power of Twitter footage has been discovered of the lesser spotted, Wenner. But I am sure if I had known of this Wenner role, I would have kept my eyes firmly peeled on the telly.

 

War Correspondent

British journalist and television presenter passes away aged 66 l ABC News, ABC News (Australia)

After this all too short and fortuitously unrecognised acting career, Wenner became a journalist in 1985. He at first worked in Beirut as a war correspondent for ITN. He went missing in Lebanon for 18 days, during this time and then was found unharmed.

In 1991, he took part in a demonstration in Timor-Leste and took footage of before and during the massacre of a large number of peaceful protesters by Indonesian soldiers in Timor-Leste, formerly known as East Timor. He buried this film and later smuggled this film footage out of the country and it was shown on television. For this film, he won the Amnesty International UK Media Award. This award was for highlighting the then struggles in Timor-Leste and bringing them to the world’s attention.

Under the name Max Stahl, he later won the Rory Peck award for journalism when he returned there for his future reports. These reports were regarding their fight for independence, and he was commended for his part in achieving this and he was later granted citizenship. He later was given the Order of Timor-Leste by President Francisco Guterres. He also made prolific journalism about Chechneya, Russia and Serbia. And as a filmmaker, he produced the documentary, The Hunt for Red Mercury (1993) and directed The Hashish Connection (1988).

And it seems, his successful and award-winning career and his aptitude in hard biting journalism and filmmaking came for Wenner after his awakening of sorts. And Wenner, later Stahl went on to much greater heights than that BBC Tower, after leaving this kids’ show…

 

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