The Hundred Greatest Kids’ TV Shows

I’m watching yet another of Channel 4’s epic Top 100 shows - in this case, 100 Greatest Kids’ TV Shows. This thing started at 8pm, when most kids go to bed given that tomorrow’s Monday and it’s a “school night”. It finishes at 11.30pm, when most adults are also in bed, because tomorrow’s Monday and it’s a work night.

Given that there have been kids’ shows on British TV since the 1950s, at the beginning of which my mother had yet to be born, it should be no surprise that I don’t remember an awful lot of these shows. Some of them are, I think, more recent, but they still passed me by. Like The Simpsons, which came first, and Mr Benn, which came sixth. Mr Benn to me is a politician. (Tony, not Hillary.) The show was set in Festive Road, which is a slightly renamed version of a real street which was where the author lived, which was in Putney. He informs us that it is still in Putney.

Some of the programmes which are way down the list are long-forgotten classics, like Timmy Mallett’s Wide Awake Club, which was a wild and wacky morning show. Mallett now performs to students, who he says have grown up and still like to hear the WAC they knew as kids. Some of them are based on kids’ lit classics like The Wind in the Willows, which is something most kids read when I was a kid - I’m not sure if they do now. And there was Playschool / Play Away with the flamboyant Floella Benjamin, whose removal caused outrage from the parents who would miss it when their children wouldn’t, and Jackanory (rhymes with story) which they kept going for decades.

And Why Don’t You? down there at 40th (altogether now: Why don’t you … just turn off the television set and go out and do something less boring instead!), which was a holiday activity show, and there are a couple (Jim’ll Fix It, in which Jimmy Saville arranged things for children which had been requested in letters, not always from them, and Doctor Who) which weren’t really kids’ shows - they were on at prime time and were family shows.

The only thing is that I can’t think of a major kids’ TV show which isn’t in this list. I mean, with their 100 Worst Pop Records, they could actually find 100 spectacularly awful records (a few of which weren’t that awful and some - like Dick-A-Dum-Dum by Des O’Connor at number 52 - which sound bad now but probably didn’t then). Certainly the top two deserve to be there, and a few further down the list deserve to be in the top ten. Unlike pop songs which stay in the charts for just weeks, TV shows last months, even years and some last decades. I think you will find any memorable kids’ show in this list.

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