Actor, presenter, documentary maker, Peter Duncan, former Chief Scout and one time Blue Peter man has a TV, film and theatre career that spans four decades. A self confessed adventurer he is never happier than when in the thick of it such as competing in the BBC1 circus and gymnast reality show Tumble. He was most recently touring in Birdsong (based on Sebastian Faulks famous novel), playing Jack Firebrace.
Peter began his career on stage joining Laurence Olivier’s National Theatre and spent the 70’s working exclusively as actor. He became a well known face on TV where his work included Play for Today, Sons and Lovers, Renoir My Father, Warship, Fathers and Families, Sam, Fallen Hero, Survivors, King Cinder, Oranges and Lemons, The Flockton Flyer and Space 1999. His feature film credits include Stardust, Quilp, The Lifetaker and a famous cameo in Flash Gordon when was he killed by a tree monster
He perhaps became known for his daredevil approach to life when he joined the Blue Peter team in 1980 and began to travel the world on expeditions. He wore his action man label easily, running in the first London Marathon in just over three hours (his last one in 2012 was much slower). He competed against a sumo wrestler in Japan, dug for emeralds in Sri Lanka and travelled to Indonesia many times working with Oxfam on operation pipeline.
In 1986 he left Blue Peter to make Duncan Dares, a series that capitalised on his adventurous image with stunts such driving an amphibious VW beetle across the Irish Sea as well as competing for England as a dragon boat racer in Hong Kong. He joined the circus as high wire walker and climbed the Old Man of Stoer with mountaineer Doug Scott. Another dare saw him guided by SAS survival expert Lofty Wiseman surviving in the wilderness.
During the next decade he had a flourishing musical theatre career playing Barnum, Charlie Chaplin in the Little Tramp, Bill Snibson in Me and my Girl and winning an Olivier nomination for his portrayal of Denry Machin in The Card. However in 1993 he still found time to take part in the Big Race, an ITV adventure show in which he drove overland around the world. Starting with a tow through the Channel service tunnel and driving across Europe to reach Russia. When the road ended they continued up frozen rivers ending up in remote Siberia where temperatures reached minus 59C. Finally crossing the Bering Straits he snow machined 700 miles through Alaska and reached the United Nations in New York months after starting out.
At the start of this century Peter began making his own programmes including a six part series called Travel Bug in which he, his partner Annie and their four children backpacked their way around the world. They trekked in Nepal, went on safari in Africa and into the rainforest in Peru. In the follow up series they toured to China inspiring their eldest daughter Lucy to return after studying Mandarin. Arthur’s trip to India was their final family TV adventure series focussing on the youngest member of the Duncan clan.
Peter was appointed Chief Scout in 2004 helping to lead the Scouts through their centenary in 2007. He also used his filming skills to follow an expedition up Mount Everest and was lucky enough to meet and film Sir Edmund Hillary just before he died.
In 2009, Peter co-founded The Natural Adventure Company. When he took up a friend’s invitation to make his first visit to Southeast Europe he was faced with an abundance of surprises. He happily admits, “Whilst I had visited many other regions of the world, this was a part of Europe, almost on my doorstep, which I knew so little about”. Starting with walking holidays in Bulgaria, gradually adding more countries in the Balkan region, now they have become the leading UK experts for self guided walking holidays in the Balkans, Central & Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean.
Peter is patron of Neighbourhood Midwives, Action for Children’s Arts and Youth Music Theatre and was given a Gold Blue Peter badge for his volunteer work with the Scouts. He is also very excited to be a joint founder of The Natural Adventure Company and looks forward to many new adventures.
Visit Peter’s personal website heresoneimadeearlier.com.