Tag Archives: Watch With Mother

Scrap Book Project – Childrens’ Television

Whenever a group of fifty somethings come together it is almost inevitable that at some point the conversation will sink towards nostalgia and this in turn will at some point get around to the subject of children’s TV.

In the 1960s there wasn’t nearly as much television broadcasting time provided for kids and it was restricted to ‘Watch With Mother’which was shown at lunch time and was aimed at the pre-school audience and then for school children there was ‘Children’s Hour’ at five o’clock or thereabouts (I say thereabouts because sometimes BBC and ITV altered the scheduling to achieve viewing numbers advantage).  This gave us enough time to walk home from school (yes, walk – shock horror), get changed and get the TV set warmed up!

Everyone remembers ‘Blue Peter’, which was transmitted twice a week on Monday and Thursday.  It was first aired on 16th October 1958 and the first two presenters were Christopher (and now for something completely different) Trace, an actor and Leila Williams, winner of Miss Great Britain in 1957.  In the 1960s of course the most memorable presenters were Valerie (here’s one I made earlier) Singleton and John (Get down Shep) Noakes.

Blue Peter 1972

In response to the success of Blue Peter, TV weighed in with ‘Magpie’ which had a similar format but was less bourgeois and a bit grittier.  I preferred Blue Peter but had to watch Magpie because of the teenager’s ‘pin-up’ presenter Susan Stranks.

I regret my selfishness now but one programme that I didn’t care for was ‘Vision On’ which I think was shown on a Tuesday and was designed for deaf children; selfish, because this specialist programme accounted for only 10% or so of a week’s children’s television output and disability was approached differently fifty years ago.  I didn’t watch it because it felt somehow as though it was exclusively for deaf children and that seems rather absurd now.

There were cartoons in ‘The Huckleberry Hound Show’, ‘Tom and Jerry’, ‘Deputy Dawg’ and ‘Wacky Races’; the puppet shows ‘Supercar’, ‘Fireball XL5’, ‘Stingray’ and ‘Thunderbirds; and programmes with smart alec animals like ‘Lassie’, ‘Flipper’ and ‘Skippy the Bush Kangaroo’.

There were two animal programmes that I liked, ‘Zoo Time’ with Desmond Morris which was designed to be almost completely educational and ‘Animal Magic’ which was more relaxed and both informative and entertaining and brought a bit of humour to the zoo.  I think on balance I preferred ‘Animal Magic’ which was first broadcast in 1962 and ran for twenty-one years.  The presenter was the jovial Johnny Morris.  His charismatic style and genuine fondness for animals made the show an instant success as the show combined jovial voice overs applied to various animals from Bristol Zoo.

Sometimes the Television Companies showed programmes from the continent and two of my favourites were the French film ‘Robinson Crusoe’ with its distinctive and haunting theme tune and filmed on the island of Gran Canaria by the way, and ‘The Singing Ringing Tree’ which was part of the ‘Tales From Europe’ series.

The Singing Ringing Tree’ was a children’s film made in East Germany in 1957 and broken down into a television series by the BBC. It was a story in the style of the Brothers Grimm and although it fascinated me, with its beautiful princess, talking animals, a giant fish flapping in a rapidly drying river, a beautiful white horse, a nasty dwarf, a bear in a cave, a girl in rags and an odd little tree with bells on it, I never understood it.  It was supposed to be a lovely old fashioned fairy tale of good triumphing over evil but I was never really able to get to the bottom of it.  It was dark, weird and spooky and I still wonder why the BBC thought that it was suitable for daytime children’s television.  Along with ‘Doctor Who’ it is the only programme that I can remember watching from behind the safety of the sofa! The comedian Paul Whitehouse once said, “The Singing Ringing Tree used to make me pee my pants when I was a kid”.

“It’s Friday, it’s five o’clock. . . It’s Crackerjack!”

This was the last children’s show of the week (excluding weekends) and‘Crackerjack’ was a sort of kid’s version of a variety show.  The shows were filmed in front of a live audience at the BBC Television Theatre and were quite manic. The format of the programme included competitive games for teams of children, a music spot, a comedy double act, and a finale in which the cast performed a short comic play, adapting popular songs of the day and incorporating them into the action. One of the most memorable games was a quiz called ‘Double or Drop’, where each contestant was given a prize to hold for each question answer correctly, but given a cabbage if they answer incorrectly. They were out of the game if they dropped any of the items they were holding or received a third cabbage. ‘’Crackerjack’ was always one of my favourites.

Children’s TV ended at around six o’clock and this was the time for the ten minute news bulletin.  Dad would be home from work by now, Mum would be putting the finishing touches to afternoon tea and we would be sent to our rooms to play so that the grown-ups could watch the TV in peace, soak up the day’s news and then watch ‘Crossroads’.

Children’s Television in the 1960s

Whenever a group of fifty somethings come together it is almost inevitable that at some point the conversation will sink towards nostalgia and this in turn will at some point get around to the subject of children’s TV.

In the 1960s there wasn’t nearly as much television broadcasting time provided for kids and it was restricted to ‘Watch With Mother’which was shown at lunch time and was aimed at the pre-school audience and then for school children there was ‘Children’s Hour’ at five o’clock or thereabouts (I say thereabouts because sometimes BBC and ITV altered the scheduling to achieve viewing numbers advantage).  This gave us enough time to walk home from school (yes, walk – shock horror), get changed and get the TV set warmed up!

Everyone remembers ‘Blue Peter’, which was transmitted twice a week on Monday and Thursday.  It was first aired on 16th October 1958 and the first two presenters were Christopher (and now for something completely different) Trace, an actor and Leila Williams, winner of Miss Great Britain in 1957.  In the 1960s of course the most memorable presenters were Valerie (here’s one I made earlier) Singleton and John (Get down Shep) Noakes.

Blue Peter 1972

In response to the success of Blue Peter, TV weighed in with ‘Magpie’ which had a similar format but was less bourgeois and a bit grittier.  I preferred Blue Peter but had to watch Magpie because of the teenager’s ‘pin-up’ presenter Susan Stranks.

I regret my selfishness now but one programme that I didn’t care for was ‘Vision On’ which I think was shown on a Tuesday and was designed for deaf children; selfish, because this specialist programme accounted for only 10% or so of a week’s children’s television output and disability was approached differently fifty years ago.  I didn’t watch it because it felt somehow as though it was exclusively for deaf children and that seems rather absurd now.

There were cartoons in ‘The Huckleberry Hound Show’, ‘Tom and Jerry’, ‘Deputy Dawg’ and ‘Wacky Races’; the puppet shows ‘Supercar’, ‘Fireball XL5’, ‘Stingray’ and ‘Thunderbirds; and programmes with smart alec animals like ‘Lassie’, ‘Flipper’ and ‘Skippy the Bush Kangaroo’.

There were two animal programmes that I liked, ‘Zoo Time’ with Desmond Morris which was designed to be almost completely educational and ‘Animal Magic’ which was more relaxed and both informative and entertaining and brought a bit of humour to the zoo.  I think on balance I preferred ‘Animal Magic’ which was first broadcast in 1962 and ran for twenty-one years.  The presenter was the jovial Johnny Morris.  His charismatic style and genuine fondness for animals made the show an instant success as the show combined jovial voice overs applied to various animals from Bristol Zoo.

Sometimes the Television Companies showed programmes from the continent and two of my favourites were the French film ‘Robinson Crusoe’ with its distinctive and haunting theme tune and filmed on the island of Gran Canaria by the way, and ‘The Singing Ringing Tree’ which was part of the ‘Tales From Europe’ series.

The Singing Ringing Tree’ was a children’s film made in East Germany in 1957 and broken down into a television series by the BBC. It was a story in the style of the Brothers Grimm and although it fascinated me, with its beautiful princess, talking animals, a giant fish flapping in a rapidly drying river, a beautiful white horse, a nasty dwarf, a bear in a cave, a girl in rags and an odd little tree with bells on it, I never understood it.  It was supposed to be a lovely old fashioned fairy tale of good triumphing over evil but I was never really able to get to the bottom of it.  It was dark, weird and spooky and I still wonder why the BBC thought that it was suitable for daytime children’s television.  Along with ‘Doctor Who’ it is the only programme that I can remember watching from behind the safety of the sofa! The comedian Paul Whitehouse once said, “The Singing Ringing Tree used to make me pee my pants when I was a kid”.

“It’s Friday, it’s five o’clock. . . It’s Crackerjack!”

This was the last children’s show of the week (excluding weekends) and‘Crackerjack’ was a sort of kid’s version of a variety show.  The shows were filmed in front of a live audience at the BBC Television Theatre and were quite manic. The format of the programme included competitive games for teams of children, a music spot, a comedy double act, and a finale in which the cast performed a short comic play, adapting popular songs of the day and incorporating them into the action. One of the most memorable games was a quiz called ‘Double or Drop’, where each contestant was given a prize to hold for each question answer correctly, but given a cabbage if they answer incorrectly. They were out of the game if they dropped any of the items they were holding or received a third cabbage. ‘’Crackerjack’ was always one of my favourites.

Children’s TV ended at around six o’clock and this was the time for the ten minute news bulletin.  Dad would be home from work by now, Mum would be putting the finishing touches to afternoon tea and we would be sent to our rooms to play so that the grown-ups could watch the TV in peace, soak up the day’s news and then watch ‘Crossroads’.

Watch With Mother

One of my earliest recollections of children’s TV was ‘Watch with Mother’ a fifteen minute lunch-time spot aimed at pre-school children.  Unlike today with twenty-four hour television this would be the first time each day that the television set would be turned on.

There are two conflicting dates for the first broadcasting of Andy Pandy so after tossing a coin I have decided it might have been 20th June 1950, four years before I was born.

By the time I was watching the programme in about 1956/57 the weekly schedule had settled down into:

Monday:             Picture Book                      

Tuesday:            Andy Pandy

Wednesday:       Bill & Ben the Flowerpot Men

Thursday:           Rag, Tag & Bobtail

Friday:                The Woodentops 

To be honest Picture Book on a Monday was never my favourite because, to be quite frank (and I hope I don’t offend anyone here) it was a bit girlie.

It was presented by Patricia Driscoll (who also played Maid Marion in the Adventures of Robin Hood)  and whose soft patronising vocal tones asked questions like “Do you think you could do this? – I am sure you could if you tried”  encouraged us at early attempts at crafts such as origami and model making.  The pages of the book were turned to reveal various items, for example, a way of making paper lanterns.  Another page introduced Bizzy Lizzy, a wispy-haired little girl with a magic wishing flower on her dress. She was allowed four wishes by touching the flower but she had to be careful not to be greedy because if she wished a fifth time all her wishes flew away.

The Jolly Jack Tars, a group of puppets, were regulars and sailed to places like Bottle Island, sometimes in search of the Talking Horse. There was the Captain, Mr. Mate, Jonathan the deck hand and Ticky the monkey.

A favourite game was played when the presenter would cover a tray of objects with a cloth, and then remove one and the young viewers had to guess which one had gone!

Andy Pandy was a bit of a laugh. It always started with the song ‘Andy Pandy is  coming to play la, la la, la la, la’, somewhere in between Looby Loo had her own song, ‘Here we go Looby Loo, Here we go Looby Li’ and finished, after  the three of them had climbed back and squeezed into the toy basket, with ‘Time to go home , time to go home, Andy is waving goodbye.’

Filmed in ancient black and white the pictures were always a bit grainy and got worse the more times they were shown.  Years later I bought a video of ‘Watch with Mother’ for my daughter and I asked her what she thought of Andy Pandy.  Mistaking the flickering lines for precipitation she said she thought he was silly and when I asked why she said because he was playing out in the garden in the rain!

Bill & Ben the flowerpot men were shown on Wednesday. They lived in two large flowerpots at the bottom of a garden next to the potting shed and either side of Little Weeeeeeeeeed, who had a big smiley face, something between a sunflower and a giant daisy.

When the man who looked after the garden went for his lunch the fun and games began. As a result some minor mishap would always occur. To make sure we children had been watching carefully the narrator asked us to guess ‘was it Bill or was it Ben?’ The culprit owned up, just before the gardeners footsteps could be heard coming back along the path, and the flowerpot men quickly climbed back into their pots to end the programme.

Bill and Ben had their own language, years before the Teletubbies were ever thought of, “Flobbalob, Flobbadob” which was criticized by some child development experts as being unhelpful for children while learning how to speak.

Rag, Tag & Bobtail were a hedgehog, a mouse and a rabbit and I am going to own up to this – they were my favourites.  They were sort of a prequel to tales of the riverbank and I don’t why I liked them because I can remember nothing about the programmes at all.  There was no theme tune, no special effects and no silly language, just a trio of hedgerow animals having a dull, dreary woodland life.

The Woodentops had the Friday slot and just brazenly demonstrated 1950s family values. While Daddy Woodentop was busy doing ‘men’s work’ on the farm and in the garden,  Mummy Woodentop was busy in the kitchen with assistance from the politically incorrectly named Mrs Scrubbit.  The Woodentop children were twins Jenny and Willy and baby Woodentop who resided permanently in the arms of Mummy Woodentop.

The family was complete with Sam who helped Daddy Woodentop in the fields, Buttercup the Cow and a rascal of a hound called Spotty  ‘the biggest spotty dog you ever did see’, famed for his strange bark and mechanical movements. Interestingly the male characters all had bare chests but the females had discreet clothing with tops to retain their modesty.

Later, as I grew up, I remember a little joke that Sam was helping Daddy Woodentop out more than he knew and was having an affair with Mummy Woodentop and this deception was discovered because Daddy Woodentop recognised the splinters in his hands!

A Life in a Year – 16th October, Children’s Television

Whenever a group of fifty somethings come together it is almost inevitable that at some point the conversation will sink towards nostalgia and this in turn will at some point get around to the subject of children’s TV.

In the 1960s there wasn’t nearly as much television broadcasting time provided for kids and it was restricted to ‘Watch With Mother’, which was shown at lunch time and was aimed at the pre-school audience and then for school children there was ‘Children’s Hour’ at five o’clock or thereabouts (I say thereabouts because sometimes BBC and ITV altered the scheduling to achieve viewing numbers advantage).  This gave us enough time to walk home from school (yes, walk – shock horror), get changed and get the TV set warmed up!

Everyone remembers ‘Blue Peter’, which was transmitted twice a week on Monday and Thursday.  It was first aired on 16th October 1958 and the first two presenters were Christopher (and now for something completely different) Trace, an actor and Leila Williams, winner of Miss Great Britain in 1957.  In the 1960s of course the most memorable presenters were Valerie (here’s one I made earlier) Singleton and John (Get down Shep) Noakes.

In response to the success of Blue Peter, TV weighed in with ‘Magpie’ which had a similar format but was less bourgeois and a bit grittier.  I preferred Blue Peter but had to watch Magpie because the presenter Susan Stranks would often appear in tight tops and without a bra!

I regret my selfishness now but one programme that I didn’t care for was ‘Vision On’ which I think was shown on a Tuesday and was designed for deaf children; selfish, because this specialist programme accounted for only 10% or so of a week’s children’s television output.  I didn’t watch it because it didn’t feel as though it was for anyone but deaf children and that seems absurd now.

There were cartoons in ‘The Huckleberry Hound Show’, ‘Tom and Jerry’, ‘Deputy Dawg’ and ‘Wacky Races’; the puppet shows ‘Supercar’, ‘Fireball XL5’, ‘Stingray’ and ‘Thunderbirds; and programmes with smart alec animals like ‘Lassie’, ‘Flipper’ and ‘Skippy the Bush Kangaroo’.

There were two animal programmes that I liked, ‘Zoo Time’ with Desmond Morris which was designed to be almost completely informative and ‘Animal Magic’ which was informative and entertaining and brought a bit of humour to the zoo.  I think on balance I preferred ‘Animal Magic’ which was first broadcast in 1962 and ran for 21 years.  The presenter was the avuncular Johnny Morris. His charismatic style and genuine fondness for animals made the show an instant success as the show combined jovial voiceovers applied to various animals from Bristol Zoo with some basic educational features.

Sometimes the Television Companies showed programmes from the continent and two of my favourites were the French film ‘Robinson Crusoe’ with its distinctive and haunting theme tune and filmed on the island of Gran Canaria by the way, and ‘The Singing Ringing Tree’ which was part of the ‘Tales From Europe’ series. 

The Singing Ringing Tree’ (was a children’s film made in East Germany in 1957 and shown in the form of a television series by the BBC. It was a story in the style of the Brothers Grimm and although it fascinated me, with its beautiful princess, talking animals, a giant fish flapping in a rapidly drying river, a beautiful white horse, a nasty dwarf, a bear in a cave, a girl in rags and an odd little tree with bells on it.  It was supposed to be a lovely old fashioned fairy tale of good triumphing over evil but I was never really able to get to the bottom of it.  It was dark, weird and spooky and I still wonder why the BBC thought that it was suitable for daytime children’s television.  Along with ‘Doctor Who’ it is the only programme that I can remember watching from behind the safety of the sofa! The comedian Paul Whitehouse once said, “The Singing Ringing Tree used to make me pee my pants when I was a kid” and he later made a special version for the ‘Fast Show’.

“It’s Friday, it’s five o’clock. . . It’s Crackerjack!”

This was the last children’s show of the week (excluding weekends) and ‘Crackerjack’ was a sort of kid’s version of a variety show.  The shows were filmed in front of a live audience at the BBC Television Theatre and were quite manic. The format of the programme included competitive games for teams of children, a music spot, a comedy double act, and a finale in which the cast performed a short comic play, adapting popular songs of the day and incorporating them into the action. One of the most memorable games was a quiz called ‘Double or Drop’, where each contestant was given a prize to hold for each question answer correctly, but given a cabbage if they answer incorrectly. They are out of the game if they drop any of the items they are holding or receive a third cabbage. ‘’Crackerjack’ was always one of my favourites.

Children’s TV ended at around six o’clock and this was the time for the ten minute news bulletin.  Dad would be home from work by now, Mum would be putting the finishing touched to afternoon tea and we would be sent to our rooms to play so that the grown-ups could watch the TV in peace, ,soak up the day’s news and then watch ‘Crossroads’.

A Life in a Year – 20th June, Watch With Mother

One of my earliest recollections of children’s TV was ‘Watch with Mother’ a fifteen minute lunch-time spot aimed at pre-school children,  Unlike today with 24 hour television this would be the first time each day that the television set would be turned on.  There are two conflicting dates for the first broadcasting of Andy Pandy so after tossing a coin I have decided it might have been 20th June 1950, four years before I was born.

By the time I was watching the programme in about 1956/57 the weekly schedule had settled down into:

Monday:             Picture Book                      

Tuesday:            Andy Pandy

Wednesday:       Bill & Ben the Flowerpot Men

Thursday:           Rag, Tag & Bobtail

Friday:                The Woodentops  

To be honest Picture Book on a Monday was never my favourite because, to be quite frank, it was a bit girlie.

It was presented by a woman whose soft patronising vocal tones like “Do you think you could do this? – I am sure you could if you tried” encouraged us at early attempts at crafts such as origami and model making. The pages of the book were turned to reveal various items, for example, a way of making lanterns.  Another page introduced Bizzy Lizzy, a wispy-haired little girl with a magic wishing flower on her dress. She was allowed four wishes by touching the flower but if she wished a fifth time all her wishes flew away.

The Jolly Jack Tars, a group of puppets, were regulars and sailed to places like Bottle Island, sometimes in search of the Talking Horse. There was the Captain, Mr. Mate, Jonathan the deck hand and Ticky the monkey.

A favourite game was played when the presenter would cover a tray of objects with a cloth, and then remove one and the young viewers had to guess which one had gone!

Andy Pandy was a bit of a laugh. It always started with the song ‘Andy Pandy is  coming to play la, la la, la la, la’, somewhere in between Looby Loo had her own song, ‘Here we go Looby Loo, Here we go Looby Li’  and finished, after  the three of them had climbed back and squeezed into the toy basket, with ‘Time to go home , time to go home, Andy is waving goodbye.’

Filmed in ancient black and white the pictures were always a bit grainy and got worse the more times they were shown.  Years later I bought a video of ‘Watch with Mother’ for my daughter and I asked her what she thought of Andy Pandy.  She said she thought he was silly and when I asked why she said because he was playing out in the garden in the rain!

Bill & Ben the flowerpot men were shown on Wednesday. They lived in two large flowerpots at the bottom of a garden next to the potting shed and either side of Little Weeeeeeeeeed, who had a big smiley face, something between a sunflower and a giant daisy.

When the man who looked after the garden went for his lunch the fun and games began. As a result some minor mishap would always occur. To make sure we children had been watching carefully the narrator asked us to guess ‘was it Bill or was it Ben?’  The culprit owned up, just before the gardeners footsteps could be heard coming back along the path, and the flowerpot men quickly climbed back into their pots to end the programme.

Bill and Ben had their own language, years before the Teletubbies were ever thought of, “Flobbalob, Flobbadob” which was criticized by some child development experts as being unhelpful for children while learning how to speak.

Rag, Tag & Bobtail were a hedgehog, a mouse and a rabbit and I am going to own up to this – they were my favourites.  They were sort of a prequel to tales of the riverbank and I don’t why I liked them because I can remember nothing about the programmes at all.  There was no theme tune, no special effects and no silly language, just a trio of hedgerow animals having a gentle woodland adventure.

The Woodentops had the Friday slot and just brazenly demonstrated 1950s family values. While Daddy Woodentop was busy doing ‘men’s work’, Mummy Woodentop was busy in the kitchen with assistance from Mrs Scrubbit.  The Woodentop children were twins Jenny and Willy and baby Woodentop who resided permanently in the arms of Mummy Woodentop.

The family was complete with Sam who helped Daddy Woodentop in the fields, Buttercup the Cow and a rascal of a hound called Spotty Dog ‘the biggest spotty dog you ever did see’, famed for his strange bark and mechanical movements. Interestingly the male characters all had bare chests but the females had discreet clothing with tops to retain their modesty.

Later, as I grew up, I remember a little joke that Sam was helping Daddy Woodentop out more than he knew and was having an affair with Mummy Woodentop and he was found out because he got splinters in his hands. LOL.