Just in case it's passed you by I feel it my moral duty to inform you of an amazing event that's going on this weekend. It's 30 years since those people at ITV started doing kids programmes – Children's ITV as it was known, CITV in modern speak – and to celebrate they're turning the CITV channel (that one you watch sometimes when you overshoot CBeebies on the remote) over to some of the best shows from the last 30 years.
A quick look at the schedules (in this Radio Times article) shows some great memories from my childhood as well as plenty of others I'd forgotten. There have been several online discussions since about what greats are missing from the list and many people trying to recall what was on ITV and what on CBBC. As I sat up in the middle of the night (feeding Master C again!) I found myself creating my own list of TV greats from my childhood. What's the point of these lists though if you don't share them, so here goes!
It's impossible to talk about children's TV without mentioning Blue Peter. It was the programme that you were always allowed to watch as it was deemed "educational", but then that did mean that there were always some segments that as a child you found rather boring.
For many of us our childhood is defined by which Blue Peter presenters you remembered. I think Simon Groom, Sarah Green and Peter Duncan were the ones on when I started watching, but during my time I also remember Mark Curry, Caron Keeting, Yvette Fielding and Janet Ellis. Strangely I struggled to find my clips on You Tube (maybe due to BBC copyright issues?) but this one moment that I remember seeing. As a child comprehending that someone had vandalised the Blue Peter garden was a hard one to get my head around.
Strangely I can even remember when Gran used to be on – lunchtimes on BBC2, just before Stop Go. This was very much in the same vein as Postman Pat, but as a child who had a "Gran" in their lives I completely loved this. Listening to it again the theme tune isn't as catchy as I recall, but the whole concept of having adventures with your Gran was some that I totally bought into.
I've been reliving Bertha recently thanks to my parents buying Little Miss C a DVD of it for Christmas last year. My sister was obsessed with this as a child and once again I think it was part of the BBC2 lunchtime slot, possibly being on just before Gran.
Another BBC great with some catchy music. Who could fail to love Pigeon Street and all the people you could meet there. I can even remember singing along to Long Distance Clara in the school playground.
When it comes to SuperGran I think I remember the titles far better than the programme itself. I do recall that it was on ITV, possibly made by TyneTees television, and featured a typical Scottish Gran who went about daily life with plenty of adventures and super powers thrown in too.
I also think that a friend down my street used to have a Spectrum computer game version of this and that we'd sit for ages watching it load from cassette just so we could sing along to the theme tune. So different to today's children looking things up instantly on You Tube.
Who doesn't remember Rainbow fondly? Even though we're now told that it was full of innuendo and questions over why Rod, Jane and Freddy all lived together, but as a child it was just great fun. Up above the streets and houses, rainbow climbing high.
I remember my mum and I watching this (strangely never with my sister though – was she asleep at the time, or before she was born maybe?) but even then I seem to recall finding it a little strange. Strange yet I still enjoyed watching it.
Degrassi Junior High
Bought in from Canada, Degrassi Junior High was shown on the BBC and opened my eyes to what life was like at schools outside the UK. It was probably classed as being a bit cutting edge for UK children's TV back then, but I was obsessed. I can even remember my sister and I pretending to deliver newspapers whilst wandering around our back garden with a trolley full of papers my mum had put out for the bin men. Very much a teenage drama of the day, but with the added interest of it not being set in the UK.
CBBC Broom Cupboard
Holding together the afternoon's post school TV session were the men (and one woman IIRC) of the CBBC Broom Cupboard. For many women of my age though Phillip Schofield was the first and the one who took our hearts. Funny to think as I see him on the Cube that this man's picture was pulled out of the poster section of Smash Hits Magazine and plastered on girl's bedroom walls all over the country.
Without the internet or email the only way to contact your idols in those days was via snail mail and I'll never forget the excitement of once having a letter read out by him. Other presenters followed (Andy Crane, Simon Parkin and Debbie Flint are the names that spring to mind) but as far as I know they've only been seen on shopping channels of late. And Edd the Duck was no comparison to Gordon the Gopher.
I'm sure this list isn't exhaustive, but what else have I forgotten? Maybe Grange Hill should be in there. And we all watched Newsround – even if we did find it a bit dull and grown up at the time – just to laugh at John Craven's jumpers. Hours and hours can be lost though looking up old TV shows, and we didn't even have dedicated children's channels!