Matthew James Baker is a British television presenter. He co-presented the children's television show Blue Peter from 1999 until 2006, BBC One's Countryfile since 2009 and The One Show from 2011 to 2020, with Alex Jones.
Baker wanted to become a physiotherapist, but did not achieve the necessary academic standards. After an appearance in the school production of Grease, it was suggested that he attend drama school. Having just finished the second year of a three-year course at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, his future wife's aunt spotted that Blue Peter was looking for a new presenter. After calling into the Editor's office direct, Baker put together a showreel with footage in the farmyard; reading a story; and riding a unicycle. He was asked to come to London the next day for an interview, and made his first appearance on the show on 25 June 1999. His gymnastic background helped him in physical challenges, including training as a stuntman, and passing the recruitment courses for both the Royal Marines and the Parachute Regiment. In 2003, Baker learned to fly hang gliders and made a successful tandem world record-breaking flight with Airways Airsports instructor Judy Leden MBE.
During his seven years on Blue Peter, Matt's colleagues were Katy Hill, Konnie Huq, Simon Thomas, Liz Barker, Zöe Salmon and Gethin Jones. He won two BAFTAs for Best Children's Presenter two years in a row and a Royal Television Society award. Baker left Blue Peter at the end of its 2005–06 series; his last live show was broadcast on 26 June. Baker's dog Meg, seen alongside him on the programme from 2000 onwards, left with him.
Baker co-presented Countryfile Summer Diaries on weekday mornings on BBC One, along with Open Country for Radio 4 and Animal Rescue Squad and Animal Rescue Squad International for Channel 5. From 2009, he has co-presented BBC One's Countryfile on Sunday evenings. In August 2010, Baker co-presented the first series of Secret Britain with Julia Bradbury and presented One Man and His Dog with Kate Humble.
The One Show
From May to August 2010, Baker was a guest presenter on BBC One's magazine programme The One Show, standing in for Jason Manford. Following Manford's resignation on 18 November 2010, Baker acted as a guest co-host on the programme. He later took over as a permanent presenter on the show, co-hosting with Alex Jones from Monday to Thursday.
On 8 March 2011, Baker gained media attention by asking then-Prime Minister David Cameron, "How on earth do you sleep at night?". Will Heaven, Deputy Editor of Telegraph Blogs, wrote: "Was this the unearthing of a true Northern lefty? Or did Baker just misspeak?".
On 4 December 2019, Baker announced on The One Show that he would be leaving in the spring of 2020. He announced it in an emotional speech to camera where he thanked everyone for their support, especially for the money donated to The Rickshaw Challenges.
Matt's last show on "The One Show" was on Tuesday 31 March 2020, where he wasn't on the couch with co-presenter Alex Jones, but was at home in self isolation.
Other television work
In 2003, Baker was a guest on A Song For Europe contest to decide the UK entry to the Eurovision Song Contest, where he announced the scores for the North of England. He was one of three main presenters on the final series of the BBC One reality series City Hospital. In March 2007, and again in 2008, Baker co-presented coverage of Crufts. Also in 2007, he co-presented five episodes of Animal Rescue Live with Selina Scott. The episodes were shown across a week and were broadcast live from Battersea Dogs & Cats Home in London.
As part of the celebration for London's winning bid to host the 2012 Olympics, Baker co-hosted the London 2012 party with Claudia Winkleman on 24 August 2008, after the closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympics. For the BBC's coverage of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Baker commentated on the gymnastics events. He provided commentary for the gymnastics at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, as well as doing some presenting work. Matt Baker was also a Torch Bearer for the Olympic Flame as it was carried into Durham City as part of the flame's tour of Great Britain. In 2016, Baker again provided the BBC commentary on the gymnastic events at the Rio Olympics. Matt continued his previous commentating work by providing commentary for the Tokyo 2020 gymnastics events.
In October 2009, Baker took part in the reality programme Around the World in 80 Days to raise money for Children in Need. He undertook the Kazakhstan to Mongolia leg with Julia Bradbury. For Children in Need, Baker rode a bicycle towing a rickshaw 484 miles from Edinburgh to London in 2011, which took about a week up to the fund raising night on 18 November. He averaged around 60 miles per day, raising well over £1.5 million for the charity. In the summer of 2006, Baker was a celebrity showjumper in the Sport Relief event Only Fools on Horses.
In 2015, Baker along with Mel Giedroyc co-hosted four-part BBC One series The Gift. In 2015, Baker co-hosted a three-part factual series Big Blue Live for BBC One. The series focussed on marine wildlife in Monterey Bay, California. He hosted alongside Steve Backshall, Liz Bonnin, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Lindsey Chapman.
In July 2017, Baker co-presented Wild Alaska Live on BBC One with Steve Backshall and Liz Bonnin.
Strictly Come Dancing
In 2010, Baker participated in the eighth series of Strictly Come Dancing, where he was partnered with professional ballroom dancer Aliona Vilani, finishing in second place to the winners Kara Tointon and Artem Chigvintsev in the final. Baker and Vilani also participated in the 2011 Strictly Come Dancing Live Tour. They performed in all thirty-five shows on the tour in arenas throughout Britain and Ireland, winning on twenty-six occasions.