I share my birthday with Mr Benn. Well, sort of. He first appeared on our TV screens on February 25th, 1971, so he’s just celebrated his 50th anniversary, on the same day as I sort-of-celebrated my birthday. I’m younger than him, so he’ll get his Covid vaccination before me. Yes, my brain really did bizarrely come up with that thought. Anyway, this all got me thinking about the TV programmes we used to watch when we were little kids. We were still watching some of them when we were big kids. It was totally uncool to watch Play School or Rainbow once you were past about 6, but most people in my class at secondary school were still watching Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds when we were more like 14.
Mr Benn was more a programme for little kids, though. So was Bod. And the Mr Men and Little Miss programmes. These were animated programmes, so there were no actual human presenters them, which was pretty cool because presenters were grown-ups. Dastardly and Muttley used to be on just after school, and He-Man and She-Ra were also really big whilst I was at primary school. Some of them were really ’80s – The Mysterious Cities of Gold was another, as was Pigeon Street, and then there was Danger Mouse, and Inspector Gadget, and Batfink, and Around The World With Willy Fogg – but there were classics like The Flintstones and Scooby Doo as well. Pigeon Street was really feminist, because Long Distance Clara was a female lorry driver! Oh, and there was Willo The Wisp as well. I loved Mavis Cruet. Most fairies were thin. I really appreciated the fact that there was a fat fairy!
And The Raccoons was on at weekends. I think it was actually on as part of those Saturday morning kids’ TV shows. Tiswas was a bit early for me, and I never really got Swap Shop, but I liked Going Live and Number 73, and, although I was a bit old for kids’ TV by then, I watched The 8:15 From Manchester because it had “Manchester” in the title. In the holidays, there was Wac-a-Day. We’re wide awake! Mallett’s Mallet.
Of the programmes with adult presenters, The Sooty Show and Emu’s World were very popular in our house. We had Sooty, Sweep and Soo puppets. We were never really into Jackanory, and only watched Crackerjack occasionally, although I still laugh whenever anyone says “Ooh, I could crush a grape”. For reason, we never really got into Blue Peter either. We weren’t that into programmes with presenters.
We watched Grange Hill, and a short-lived ITV school series called Behind the Bike Sheds. And T-Bag. And, when we were very young, we watched Bagpuss.
There were some programmes we watched at school as well. Mainly in the third year infants. I don’t know why, but for some reason I remember that as being the year of watching TV in the classroom. Zig Zag did history programmes. I can’t remember much about You and Me, except the theme tune went “You and Me, Me and You …” and some of the boys in the class would sing “Poo and Wee, Wee and Poo”, much to the teacher’s annoyance. And there was Why Don’t You.
I’m going to remember a million other programmes as soon as I post this. We really do seem to have spent a worrying amount of our childhoods watching TV 🙂 .
A lot of them had very catchy theme tunes. The Mysterious Cities of Gold, Dogtanian, Pigeon Street, He-Man … most people who grew up in the ’80s can still sing those theme tunes, which is rather embarrassing. And know the words to the Wac-a-Day song, but possibly won’t admit it. They stick in your head and never leave it! And which TV programmes you watched as a kid really do mark out which generation you belong to! You can read older books, or play older games, but you can only watch what’s on TV at the time! There were no nostalgia channels in our day.
So happy 50th anniversary to Mr Benn, and I’m now off to think of all the programmes I’ve missed out.
4 thoughts on “Children’s TV nostalgia”
I remember nearly all of those programmes. Mr Benn reminded me of the Homepride men. And I always thought Swapshop was really lame compared to Tiswas
LikeLiked by 3 people
Yes, he does look like the Homepride men! It’s the hat …
LikeLiked by 2 people
I think I’m slightly younger than you, but I watched nearly all of these programmes too and loved most of them, especially Dogtanian and The Mysterious Cities of Gold. Another of my favourites was Knightmare, which my friend used to watch with her hands in front of her eyes. I was never much of a Blue Peter or Jackanory fan either, but I did like Sooty and Emu!
LikeLiked by 3 people
Oh, yes, I remember Knightmare. Dogtanian was brilliant! Everyone watched it, even when you’d have thought we were too old for cartoons!
LikeLiked by 2 people