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Everyone has their own favourite childhood memories, places they went, food their mother cooked, activities, friends, etc. But one subject that is easily discussed and shared amongst people born in similar decades - children TV shows !
Everytime I bring a recollection of a children tv show that I used to watch with a friend, most often we would end up trying to remember the others and talk about how good they were, etc. I am sure this sort of experience is rather common with everyone.
Of course, you have to have your own personal favourites, everyone does - there is no exception with me. The tricky part is chosing my top 10, as I would think I have more than that in the nostaglia section of my brain.
Before I tell you all my choices, I'll tell you about my experience of my childhood watching children shows. My experience would be rather different from most of you because of one particular reason, my deafness.
"Why ? What difference does that make ?", you may ask.....it is all down to the access to subtitling. Perhaps some of you know or have noticed that on most of children tv programmes of current days has got subtitles if you have them switched on. BBC, ITV, Five or any of other digital children channels, especially Disney's, are excellent in that regard. I encourage my non-deaf daughter to watch the children programmes with the subtitles on, and I have noticed the abundance of subtitling amongst the programmes, which is great for the deaf kids today.
But it wasn't so great for the deaf kids in my time, the subtitling services wasn't so great. During my first few years, until I was about 8 or 9, there was virtually NO subtitles on any of cartoon programmes. Only a selected few children programmes had subtitles, such as Grange Hill, Blue Peter and some others where the status of the program is very popular.
Subtitles on other programs started to trickle slowly in early 90s, then came the DDA (Disability Discrimation Act) being put into force, one of the acts was that the subtitling has to increase with set of targets ending with 95% of programmes on a station to be subtitled. This was very much heralded by the deaf people, a big breakthrough in having our right in equal access.
However, the act came rather too late for me, as I had missed out quite a lot on my childhood - I was already growing out of cartoons by the time that the subtitling seems to be on every children programmes.
How did I manage to watch the children shows ? Well, the ones that didn't have subtitles, I still watched them. I have talked about this amongst my peer, and found out that I am not alone in watching and not having a clue what really went on. We would watch and try to figure out for ourselves what was happening, either that, or we would use our imagination to create our stories in our heads as the programme went on.
But I am not bitter with missing out from full access to these old children shows, I am just glad that the next generation won't have to go through the same.
Anyway, that's enough about my experience, here goes with choices at my best attempt, mostly from late 80s and early 90s also some are obvious choices (well obvious means it must have been that good, eh ? :D)
I'l start with number 10.....
** 10 ** ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS ** This show is about, obviously, Alvin and the Chipmunks - who are his brothers, Simon and Theodore. Originally called The Chipmunks, an american creation in 1958, it ran on british television from 1983 till 1991, I had missed the early years as I was too young then (I was born in 1981), but once I was old enough, I loved Alvin.
He just oozed charisma, everything he did was done in cool manner. The brothers would get up to no good, much to dismay of their adoptive human father.
Simon was the intellectual one of the brothers and Theodore would be the one who's a sweet but somewhat dim brother. The mixture of three different characters meant that chaos were guaranteed in every episodes.
Pictures of Top 10 Children's TV Shows
Simon and the Witch
Subtitled in later years. ** 9 ** SUPER TED ** This was a story about a bear that was thrown away in the rubbish when he was made, as there was something wrong with him. But only for a spotty yellow person from the outer space to rescue him and sprinkled him with some cosmic dusts which brought him alive, with some special powers to go. Whenever there was a trouble, just like Superman would, the bear transformed into SuperTed, the hero bear.
You could say that it was much too similar to Superman, but this was children version, that appealed to the kids rather than the adult's Superman.
SuperTed would always have a friend by his side, the spotty yellow person, the very one who rescued him. And he would often face troubles by Texas Pete the cowboy villian, and his own sidekick, Skeleton the, umm, skeleton ! :)
SuperTed was aired on british television from as early as 1982 for 4 years, until 1986, but was repeated often until mid 90s. And the repeats were the one that were subtitled.
** 8 ** DANGERMOUSE ** Dangermouse was simply an underrated classic cartoon, in my opinion. About a mouse, Dangermouse, who lived inside a red postbox, he was a secret agent with strong influence of James Bond-ness. The main eye-patch wearing character was voiced by the comedy great David Jason.
In each episodes, Dangermouse would tread on danger itself whilst combating with the villians, supported by his short-sighted sidekick, Ernest Penfold the hamster (voiced by Terry Scott). Classic villians that would trump often were Baron Silas Greenback, the toad and Stiletto Mafiosa, a crow sidekick for the Baron.
The episodes ran from 1981 - 1992, showing a total of 89 episodes. DangerMouse was one of cartoons that I happily watched without subtitles and made up my own stories in my head as the show went on.
** 7 ** FUN HOUSE ** As the only game show programme in my top 10, Fun House is probably one of the first children game show that used plenty of gunge, paving the way to newer generation of gunge based shows such as Get Your Own Back, 50/50, etc
You might think 'Oh hang on, what about TISWAS ?' but that wasn't really a game show, was it ? :D
Basically, it is a show with two teams of two kids competing each other to get the main prizes known as the Power Prizes. They would compete and gain points which would be converted into time for the final, which they would scramble through a complex maze full of obstacles and grab as many flags as they can, the more flags they get, the more prizes they would get.
The shows was presented by Pat Sharp and was always accompanied by twin cheerleaders, Melanie and Martina Grant - which one of each would support one of the team.
My favourite part of the game show would be the Fun House Grand Prix which both teams would race around a track to gain some more points in karts as well as the Fun House final round.
The shows ran for 10 years from 1989 till 1999 and was subtitled for most of their years, which was handy because there would be quite a few questions as well. The show contestants was probably envied by others such as myself for having the opportunity to have fun and win massive prizes such as holidays, karts, bikes, televisions, etc.
DID YOU KNOW ? Leonardo DiCaprio was a contestant on the US version of Fun House :D
** 6 ** SIMON AND THE WITCH ** Simon and the Witch did not run on television for very long, for some reason, but it was a programme that I could not wait to get home for after school, just to put the bag down, shoes and coat off - straight to the telly and wait for it to start :D
I always have been interested in magic and with shows that included anything magical such as wizards, witches, etc. Simon and the Witch was no doubt one of these.
Originally it was books and made into a TV series and it ran for one series in 1987.
The series was about a boy called Simon and his friend, the Witch. The Witch would often teach Simon how to do tricks but problem was that the Witch occassionally forget how to do them right, making mistakes and forgetting how to reverse them. At other times, she would make spells that causes troubles, so in every episodes there would be chaos everytime a spell is used, the shows were very highly enjoyable and amusing.
Joan Sims, of Carry On fame, occassionally appeared on the shows as snobbish Lady Fox-Custard.
I was rather disappointed when it ended and confirmed that there would not be another series - it could have gone on to become one of the greats. The series was repeated few times in early 90s and were subtitled then.
** 5 ** GRANGE HILL ** Like with Blue Peter, anyone who watched Grange Hill would have had their favourite era, which would normally be the era when they were in their early teen. Two of the most famous characters on Grange Hill, are no doubt, Tucker and Zammo.
I was a bit too young for Tucker, as he left Grange Hill when I was only a year old - but I did catch Zammo's final year thou.
My era ? Oh it would have been the likes of Robbie Wright, Erkan Mustafa, Ziggy Greaves, etc. The staffs were McCluskey the headmistress, strict Mr Bronson (didn't everyone hate him ? :D), Mr Robson the PE teacher and of course our beloved Yorkshireman, Mr Griffiths the usually annoyed and soft caretaker :-)
The storylines would usually surround around the mischiefs by one of the unruly children, but they also treaded on some excellent storylines which balanced the show, without making it too serious or too silly. They have tackled sensitive subjects such as child abuses, bullying, drugs, peer pressures, everything you can think of that a kid might have as a problem, they covered it.
With the such popularity of the show and in how the kids can relate themselves to perhaps at least a character on the show, it is still going strong today after 28 years. But I did watch an episode recently and thought it has changed really lot, obviously with the new kids but the buildings, design of logo, etc have changed. Well, you got to change with time anyway.]
** 4 ** TOM & JERRY (Hanna-Barbera era)** If anyone ever come to me and say they never liked Tom & Jerry, I will either not believe the person or have poor opinion of the person. Tom & Jerry cartoons were adored by millions and I know many have said that they're glad that Tom & Jerry were part of their childhood, same goes for me.
There has been three different animations, with the first more well known, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera of Hanna-Barbera, who build the characters from the beginning in 1940 until 1958. The other animations were Gene Deitch (1960-62) and Chuck Jones (1963-1967).
I, as like most people, preferred the Hanna-Barbera cartoons, they were what we grew up with, the quality of the cartoons were excellent and very high. Deitch's cartoons, were not bad and watchable, but wasn't the same. I can't say the same for Jones' which I thought spoiled Hanna-Barbera's work.
Whenever Jones' cartoons came up, I instantly switch it over and does not consider them to be originals.
Basically the stories usually goes along the lines of Tom the cat wanting to kill or eat Jerry the house mouse. There were occassional appearances by the other pet of the house, Spike the bulldog.
The stories were always fun and quick, with plenty of action and chaos, with plans, usually by Tom and not very successful :-)
Was stunned only recently when I read that all Tom & Jerry cartoons were to be edited because all smoking scenes were banned because they were deemed bad influence on the kids. Why was I stunned ? Two reasons, I watched them again and again, and never smoked - and there are worse things in the cartoons with plenty of violences, the beatings, etc - and they thought smoking needed to be edited out ?! Leave these classic cartoons alone ! doh !
** 3 ** HART BEAT ** Not as well known as it's precessor, Take Hart - Hart Beat was also presented by Tony Hart, the father of children art shows today. The show was great and fun as it was creative and visual. In the earlier years, there wasn't subtitles but I did not really miss much because of the visual activities. If Tony Hart was creating something, drawing or painting a picture, all I really needed to do was to copy what he did if I wanted to create one too.
The shows ran from between 1985 to 1994.
One of my favourite part from the shows was the segments of Morph and Chas, the plasticine characters from Aardman getting up to no good.
I also loved Tony Hart's presence, I always felt like that he was a grandfather teaching us about art in children ways. Thank you Tony !
** 2 ** BLUE PETER ** How could anyone not like Blue Peter, a national television icon. Most people will know that Blue Peter have been around for a long time, and still are. They started in 1958 and became an instant hit with the viewers with it's interesting and educational contents, and they are still going strong.
Usually consists of 3 or 4 presenters at a time, who one of two would go from time to time, replaced with a fresh unknown face.
My favourite period of presenters were the times of Mark Curry, Caron Keating, John Leslie and Yvette Fielding. Mark Curry is one of the most remembered Blue Peter presenter, alongside the likes of Peter Purves, John Noakes, Peter Duncan and Valerie Singleton.
One moment that I remember very well watching live and will never forget is when Mark Curry was driving a miniature train and knocked a freestanding wall with the Blue Peter boat on it.
Of course, the pets on the show are equally as well remembered and liked, especially the golden retrievers, Bonnie and Goldie, as well as John Noakes' beloved Shep.
DID YOU KNOW ? The original Blue Peter logo was designed by none other than Tony Hart ! :D
** 1** THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA ** Aw, just simply LOVED the series ! It was shown on BBC every sunday early evening during the winter, every week, I would go and have a nice hot bath, wrap myself in towel, get downstairs to a nice warm room with the gas fire on. I'd dress in my jammies, my sister would do the same. My mother would then go and make us both nice hot cocoa which we would drink while watching The Chronicles of Narnia. Contented after watching the story, both my sister and I would head for bed ready for school the next day, I'd sometimes doze off dreaming of being Peter in the Land of Narnia :-D
The Chronicles of Narnia was based on seven fantasy novels written by C.S Lewis but unfortunately not all books were covered, just four were - The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (6 episodes), Prince Caspian (2 episodes), Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1 episode) & The Silver Chair (1 episode).
The series followed the adventure of the Pevensie children, Lucy, Edmund, Peter and Susan (except The Silver Chair). As the story goes, the children discovered a magical wardrobe in a house of an old professor - the wardrobe led to a magical land of Narnia, where all the stories would be told.
In The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - the first story, Narnia is under spell of the evil White Witch, who made it always winter in the land of Narnia.
Aslan, the lion, is my favourite character in the series. A giant mystical lion, he is the main character of the full seven books, he is often seen as really gentle and loving but also very powerful. You could liken him to the character of Albus Dumbledore of Harry Potter stories - both are powerful and feared by many but also respected.
I don't want to spoil the stories for these who haven't read the books or seen the series, so I'll just say that there are plenty of adventures, actions, battles, etc :-)
The series were shown on television from 1988 to 1990.
Was pretty tough chosing these as there were few more I also loved, such as Woof !, Byker Grove (my time), ChuckleVision, Round The Twist and some more :P
Well, now you know a little more about me and my taste in children programmes, let see your (especially in my COT), if you have not done that yet :D
.............there is nothing better than the good old days !
Whew, sorry that it was a long waffle but I hope you found it interesting and thank you for taking the time to read my review :-P