The BBC is fighting to have auctions of its famous Blue Peter badges removed from eBay.
The badges - which can only be awarded by the kids' TV show to youngsters who "contribute to the programme" - confer on the holder the right to free entry to a range of tourist attractions. It appears that Edinburgh Zoo played a key role in exposing the evil trade after staff "became suspicious of an increase in badge-holding visitors, including one family where every child had one". Accordingly, the zoo has temporarily suspended free entry.
Apparently, a Beeb black ops unit has been monitoring the situation for some months and the corporation reckons it's succeeded in getting some of the eBay auctions pulled.
There were, though, still plenty of opportunities to get yer dirty mitts on a badge on Monday afternoon, including a nice example at a heady 112 quid. The blurb stated: "This badge will gain free entry for badge holders under 16 into many places such as museums, stately homes and exhibitions. Check the official 'Blue Peter' website for the complete list." The vendor then helpfully provides the link to said resource - a nice touch.
Obviously, the BBC has a point here. The badges come in five flavours and "a gold Blue Peter badge is reserved for exceptional achievements such as saving a life, while a green one is awarded for conservation work", and so forth. Blue Peter editor Richard Marson told the BBC's website: "We know how hard children work to earn a badge, and we are doing our best to ensure that this long-standing Blue Peter institution is not undermined." ®