Top Ten: Kid's Television
First, a disclaimer. The below top ten is subjective, built from the memories ingrained in childhood. Hopefully there will be some choices with which you wholeheartedly agree. Others will make you think and the remainder will likely frustrate, irritate and cause you to blow a gasket the more you wind yourself up over the perceived ridiculous choice. All of that is exactly what we at The Digital Fix want, as well as your suggestions in the comments - so please tell us, "what did we miss?"
Rainbow was an amazing TV show. Developed with the intention of being the UK's answer to Sesame Street we were treated to 1000 episodes of the fun times round Geoffrey's house, where he, George, Zippy and Bungle lived (and Rod, Jane and Freddy visited for some singing). Zippy was the most amazingly cool character when aged around four years old and to this day he holds a special place in the hearts of youngsters who grew up during Rainbow's time. Bungle was absolutely gigantic and George always seemed out of place but people accepted him anyway as he was kind of funny. Nobody thought to ask what a grown man was doing with variously sized animals (what exactly was Zippy?) and the question of what the dancing visits were all about is an even better one - especially when viewed in retrospect during adulthood. Some of the answers you may come up with will surely elicit a hearty chuckle. The theme tune was fantastic, the show was educational and frankly darn good fun. TV today is missing out, all because Thames Television itself missed out (it failed in its franchise bid in 1992). We'll leave you with the below - it's probably not an episode you'll have seen on air:
A game show, you know, for kids. Knightmare took the blue screen technology popularised on UK TV by weather forecasts (really) and used it to create a kid's game show based on Dungeons & Dragons. It was fabulous. You had a team of children put together when Treguard the presenter asked the Dungeoneer to call their three advisers, who - as if by magic - would appear alongside the team leader in the studio. At this point the game began. The team leader - unable to see due to the protective helmet they were forced to wear - would enter the dungeon and then be guided around the dangers by their team-mates, ensuring life force was replenished as needed by the collection of food. Absolutely awesome. What kids could not love this show? It was innovative, entertaining, cool (virtual reality!) - everything a youngster longed for. Oh, and there was the chance that one day you'd end up on there. Check-out the Spanish version below:
Round The Twist:
"Have you ever, ever felt like this? How strange things happen, are you going round the twist?" That theme tune is etched in the memories of adults the world over. An award-winning Australian supernatural comedy for kids, Round The Twist detailed the lives of the Twists, a widowed father and his three children who lived in a lighthouse. Each story was very peculiar including one where a green baby was found in the cabbage patch and another where a remote control was found to control reality. It was just great fun each and every time and always completely bonkers, but different. There was nothing else quite like this on TV at the time. What other kid's shows would cover topics as varied as birth, genitalia, bodily functions and more?
An indulgence. Many won't recognise this show but in the dark recesses of this writer's mind, there is an assurance that no show witnessed when growing up was better than this. A six-part show in the post-Newsround, pre-Neighbours slot (probably a Wednesday), Archer's Goon was adapted from the 1984 novel of the same name and aired in 1992 on the BBC. The most striking thing about this show, especially when reflected upon today, is that it was the first mind-frak a child will have ever received. Films and TV regularly do this nowadays and when done well it's a wonderful thing (Mulholland Drive, Lost, Seven) but to experience your first is something special.
What can be said about Blue Peter that hasn't already been said? Fifty-two years, four and a half thousand episodes, thirty-five presenters and around twenty-three pets. An institution. The badges, the cooking, the sticky-back plastic and the live 'accidents' (nervous elephants and all that). Every child in this country who has grown up whilst this show has been on will have seen it, and quite possibly organised their lives around it. This will have been encouraged too (even if the parents didn't agree with television) as it's just so wholesome.
The Sooty Show:
"Izzy wizzy, let's get busy!". The familiar incantation to many who will have watched The Sooty Show at some point between 1955 and 1992. Starring a mute yellow bear called Sooty, a superb squeaking grey dog called Sweep (anyone remember the Super Sweep episode? Anyone remember pretending to be Super Sweep?) and a female panda known as Soo, The Sooty Show is one of many puppet based TV shows children have spent time with over the years. The series was created by Harry Corbett, carried on by his son Matthew and is indelibly marked in the memory of this reviewer. How could it not be? Sooty himself has to be one of the most famous characters from the entire output of British television. Another show which ended thanks to the loss of Thames Television after not winning their bid for that ITV franchise. "Bye bye everybody, bye bye".
Saved By The Bell:
The only US show on this list and a little bit different aside from that given it was aimed more at teens with its High School setting and teenage characters. It was, and still is, wonderfully entertaining to anyone about to hit thirteen, or in secondary school. Saved By The Bell followed the lives of six school friends, with your typical US characterisation - the cool kid, the prom queen, the nerd, the jock, the intelligent one and so on. It tackled real-life issues as best it could given it was a fairly flimsy sitcom (if looked down upon from your thirties but not if you're the target audience). Frankly it's on this list because it (along with one or two shows which haven't made the top ten) punctuated summer holidays with a morning dose of comedy before getting outside on your bike to go and have your own adventures with schoolfriends. It's also extremely memorable given the knowledge of what happened to the cast after this ended - Jessie and Screech's careers took some very interesting directions!
Take a look at the video below to get those tears flowing:
Honestly, this is not an overly familiar show but one that is constantly mentioned for its eternal brilliance and loveliness. So, so many people across the UK adore it. How could they not? Bagpuss was "an old, saggy cloth cat, baggy, and a bit loose at the seams" who came to life when Emily, his owner left him. Bagpuss was clearly the precursor to, and inspiration for, Toy Story. Incredibly only thirteen episodes were made but since their debut in 1974 have been repeated countless times. It seems Bagpuss got tired, and fell asleep for the last time at the end of that first and only series, but he lives on in the hearts and minds of millions the world over.
There has to be a Saturday morning show on here - what kid didn't wake up and plonk themselves in front of the TV all morning until dragged away by their folks, or it was time to go and play football, or attend dance class? In truth there were many options for this slot - Saturday Swapshop may have been the first of its kind, and ITV had a few options (No. 73 most prominent) but Auntie Beeb's Going Live! takes the win - it had Gordon The Gopher, Trevor and Simon swinging their pants (but of course they don't do duvets), Philip Schofield post-broom cupboard and Double Dare. It was fantastic. Music, games, interviews and it was all live so pretty much anything could happen or go wrong (and it did) but hey, it's for kids, right? So who cares. Six years this ran for and arguably sits on top of the tree hanging from which are all shows of this ilk.
The first news programme made for and aimed at kids. It's been running continuously on BBC since 1972. John Craven is a genius. Enough said.
N.B. Cartoons have purposefully not been included - look out for a future top ten cartoons feature.