Lindsey Russell landed “the best job in the world” in July 2013, after winning a BBC competition to become the 36th presenter of long-running children's show Blue Peter.
More than 20,000 people originally applied for the coveted role after the search kicked off on Blue Peter – You Decide, a CBBC series that televised the selection process for the first time, giving young viewers power over who should take the empty spot in the Blue Peter studio. After a series of tough challenges, including filming at the top of Blackpool Tower and making a water raft in Snowdonia, ten promising hopefuls were eventually grilled by a panel of TV presenters and Lindsey's resulting victory was announced during a live episode at the CBBC Festival in Leeds.
Since joining the Blue Peter team Lindsey has taken part in a number of amazing new experiences and physical trials; in 2014 she completed the Swiss Army's Mountain Marathon and in 2015 she ran the London Marathon for BBC Children in Need.
On 26th February 2016, Lindsey embarked on a whole new adventure for Sport Relief, dubbed The Wave Runner. In a feat that has never been done before, she attempted to run across the Irish Sea in a 3-metre inflatable ball (zorb), relying on her own physical strength and at the mercy of the British weather.
Lindsey set off from the beaches of Donaghadee, Northern Ireland in the early hours of the morning, heading for the finish line at Portpatrick harbour, Scotland, with a mighty distance of 21.6 miles of open water between. Battling all the sea could throw at her, she ran the waves and faced a mental battle like nothing she had experienced before. She had trained tirelessly for several months in preparation for the event and worked closely with trainer Professor Greg Whyte, who had previously prepared Davina McCall and David Walliams for their Sport Relief challenges. The challenge had never been done before but experts predicted it could take up to 14 hours – the same amount of time it would take to swim the distance.
After eight and a half hours (31,000 uphill steps!) Lindsey was still in good physical condition and going well but just couldn't beat nature – the conditions of the Irish Sea had taken a turn for the worse. With 17 nautical miles covered, the team had to make the heartbreaking decision to abort the challenge and Lindsey was pulled from the zorb; the wind and tide had blown them too far off-course.
A spokesperson for Sport Relief said: “We are hugely grateful to Lindsey for taking on such a mammoth challenge for Sport Relief. As with all challenges in aid of Sport Relief there is no guarantee that those involved will be able to complete the challenge, but getting as far as she did in treacherous weather conditions is a huge achievement. Her inspirational efforts have wowed us all, and we're enormously grateful to Blue Peter for their amazing support, and for organising events like this which we hope will inspire children across the UK to do their bit for Sport Relief.”
Viewers can catch up with Lindsey's Wave Runner adventure online and see her live on Blue Peter every Thursday at 17:00 on the CBBC channel.
Lindsey is also currently filming a new CBBC series, Taking The Next Step; a talent show for fans of CBBC reality-style drama series The Next Step, which is due to air later this year.
- Blue Peter - CBBC
- Taking The Next Step - CBBC
- Blue Peter – You Decide! - CBBC
- Letters Live