I recently had a discussion with a group of friends about the children’s television programmes we’d all loved growing up and it was fun to remember some of the classics. With the chat fresh in my mind, it seemed to be a fun idea for a new Television Nostalgia post. So here are my 15 favourite children’s television programmes from my childhood. Plus most of these are now available on DVD, which is fantastic! Have I included yours? Feel free to comment!
1. The Chronicles of Narnia (BBC – 1988-1990)
The BBC’s series of dramatisations of C.S Lewis classic Narnia series was always going to come first in this list. I loved these books and the series was spellbinding. Each of them was wonderful, but my favourite was of course The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. It’s an exciting, magical story and world for children and I remember having the tie-in board game too! I still think children today would love this series.
2. Around the World With Willy Fog (BBC – 1987-1988)
A close second is the Japanese/Spanish anime cartoon adaptation of Jules Verne’s story, charting the adventures of Willy Fog and his friends, as they travel around the world, which was another must-see event on Children’s BBC for me. I always enjoyed Willy Fog’s adventures with Tico and the gang as the nasty Transfer (with his glowing eye) tried to stop them at every turn. Admit it, you can still remember the theme tune!
3. Dogtanian & The Three Muskehounds (BBC – started 1985)
By the same Spanish team behind Willy Fog was this version of The Musketeers or, in this case, the Muskehounds! Although I admit that now Dogtanian’s voice is a bit irritating (especially all that wailing for Juliette!), this will always be a special part of my childhood.
4. Bertha (BBC – 1985 – 1986)
Produced in the UK for the BBC by Woodland Animations (creators of Postman Pat too), Bertha was set in a factory with a special machine of the same name. What made Bertha so magical was that she could make any item requested of her! It’s hard to believe only 13 episodes were ever made as it certainly felt like more than that as I was growing up. I bet I still have the board game somewhere at my parents house!
5. Going Live! (BBC – 1987-1993)
Many Saturday morning shows came after it (SM:TV, Live & Kicking etc.) but the best one in my opinion is Going Live! Saturday mornings were all about this show. It had Gordon the Gopher and Philip Schofield and the lovely Sarah Green. Not to mention Trev & Simon (they don’t do duvets!) and the fun gameshow Double Dare.
6. Thundercats (BBC – 1987-1991)
I was never that fussed about He-Man and She-ra, but I did think Thundercats was fantastic. The music, the characters (including let’s face it, a really quite scary baddie for kids in the form of Mumm-ra). It was action-packed, exciting, a little scary and was a regular show for me. I understand from the internet that not all the episodes were ever screened in the UK, which seems like a pity, especially in light of how popular it was.
7. Rainbow Brite
Another childhood classic was Rainbow Brite, who with the help of the Colour Kids and the Sprites in RainbowLand brought colour throughout the universe. I even liked the baddies Murky & Lurky and the card game is still a cherished memory of my family’s childhood holidays.
8. The Mysterious Cities of Gold (BBC – 1986-1987)
This French/Japanese animated series is another that seems to have been far shorter than I remember. Set in 1532, it’s the story of a Spanish boy, Esteban, who joins Mendoza on a voyage to the New World looking for the Lost Cities of Gold and also his father. Including Mayans and Incans and a solar-powered Golden Condor, we follow their journey in South America. Esteban also has a mysterious gold medallion, which Mendoza believes holds the key to the Cities of Gold. Other characters included Zia (an Incan girl travelling with them) who is also seeking her father and also has a gold medallion of her own. Another classic that I may have to dig out on DVD.
9. Knightmare! (ITV – 1987-1994)
This brilliant CITV children’s gameshow is surely due a comeback? Each instalment saw a team of four kids attempting to complete a quest through a medieval world, completing puzzles, riddles and more in various rooms and virtual landscapes, as the clock counted down, through the disintegration of a face and skull (which seemed pretty creepy to me at the time). One child was the sightless dungeoneer (due to the helmet they had to wear), who was then guided by the other three. The graphics may seem old now, but at the time this show seemed like a futuristic cutting edge experience and I was always quite jealous of those taking part!
10. Pigeon Street (BBC – 1981 and repeated later)
This has to be one of my earliest television memories as a child. Over the far too few episodes we met the residents of Pigeon Street, living in flats and terraced houses and the pigeons who observed them. I particularly remember Mr Macadoo who ran the pet shop and Clara the long-distance lorry driver, not to mention the memorable cooing noise of those pigeons. Pre-school television at its best for me!
11. Look and Read (BBC 1967-1994, especially Through The Dragon’s Eye 1989)
During the course of primary school Look & Read was part of the week anticipated by my class. Yes it meant watching the television at school, but some of the stories grabbed our attention in a particularly exciting way, making learning even more enjoyable. The stand out story of my Look and Read days was 1989’s Through The Dragon’s Eye, which even my mother became hooked on as well. Whilst painting a school mural of a dragon, three children are transported in to the painting to the world of Pelamar, where they are asked by the dragon to help save the land by collecting together pieces of the world’s life source, while the evil Charn tries to do the same for his evil purposes. It looks as though Look and Read ended in 2004, which seems to be a real shame to me.
12. Neighbours (BBC)
It may be on Channel 5 now and be filled with characters I’ve never heard of, but for me the Neighbours I loved (who needed Home & Away?) was the Neighbours on the BBC in the 80s and 90s. Remember all those storylines from that era? Des & Daphne, Bouncer the dog, Joe Mangel and the death of his wife Kerry by duck hunters, Lucy Robinson’s blindness, Henry Ramsey locked out of the house naked, the rivalry of the Robinson and the Ramsey families. Plus the biggest storyline of the 80s – Scott and Charlene’s wedding (complete with Angry Anderson’s song Suddenly). I’m sure it’s still good now, but it can’t be as good as it was back then!
13. The Wide Awake Club (ITV – 1984-1989) / Wacaday (ITV – 1985-1992)
These were two shows hosted by Timmy Mallett in the 80s. The Wide Awake Club was the Saturday morning show on ITV, which then led to Wacaday, which ran during the school holidays for 30 minutes (in what is now Lorraine’s morning slot). Surely most memorable for Mallett’s Mallett, the game which saw two children compete against each other and be hit over the head with his foam mallett. I also remember a gunge-related game which resulted in a toy figure ending up in custard or gunge (I’m sure once this was Michael Jackson) and a blind tasting game featuring all manner of disgusting foods.
14. Belle and Sebastian (BBC – 1989-1990)
Not many people I speak to remember this cartoon about a boy and a dog, but it’s still one of the shows I remember most from childhood. It was the story of a young boy, who is teased by the other children for not having a mum, who meets a mountain dog. The dog, named Belle, is falsely accused of many crimes and feared by the residents, so Sebastian leaves his village with her, escaping the police and also looking for his mother. I really wish I could find this on DVD one day.
15. Postman Pat (BBC – from 1981)
Surely a classic in everyone’s childhood, even today as a new film was released for a whole new generation earlier this year. Postman Pat and Jess in their van delivering post to the villagers around Greendale is always going to be special.
I could go on and on but those are the most special for me. I did also enjoy Sooty, The Gummi Bears, The Racoons, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Raggy Dolls, Dungeons & Dragons, Rentaghost, Round The Twist, T-Bag, Ghostwriter and Moondial.
I would love to hear what classics you enjoyed as a child. You may remind me of ones I’ve forgotten!