If you are a fan of the sci-fi/police drama series Life on Mars, you are no doubt familiar with this wonderfully funny and nostalgic scene which parodies the 1966 stop motion animation children’s show, Camberwick Green.
Here’s the real thing…
The creators of Life on Mars and its sequel Ashes to Ashes must have a soft spot for classic British children’s programs because just the other night when I was watching the latter on Hulu I saw DCI Gene Hunt (Philip Glenister) reading a storybook about his DI Alex Drake (Keeley Hawes).
Jackanory, a BBC children’s series from the mid-sixties, was intended to foster an interest in reading and may have been the inspiration for America’s own Reading Rainbow with LeVar Burton.
While I had never heard of either of the shows referenced above until they were introduced in bizarre dream state scenarios,some British children’s telly has made its way to American shores and into my consciousness.
Public television stations used to broadcast the Thomas the Tank Engine stories which were full of English charm, especially when narrated by the legendary Ringo Starr. For some reason though they changed the name of the show to Shining Time Station.
I didn’t even mind The Teletubbies too much aside from their insistence to re-watch video clips on one another’s tummies “again, again”! Preschoolers love it; frazzled moms, not so much. My daughter even owned a Tinky Winky doll – or whatever the purple one was called.
You can’t watch much British TV without hearing references to Blue Peter, The Wombles or The Magic Roundabout yet I still feel woefully inadequate in this area. When my kids were growing up our television was monopolized by PBS children’s programs, the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon. Believe me, by the time they outgrew Barney the Dinosaur and SpongeBob SquarePants and my British telly obsession was in full swing, the last thing I wanted to watch was television made for kids whether it was from the UK or not.
Although I don’t think I’d have any problems getting through all five series of the hilarious, yet educational, Horrible Histories.
So the favor I ask of you my dear readers is to help me fill in my very spotty knowledge of children’s programming in in the UK. Old or new, cartoons or live action, educational or just plain silly, which shows should I be aware of in order to retain my telly addict status? Please share your favorites in the comment section below. YouTube clip examples are most welcome. Thank you in advance for furthering my education in the history of the British small screen.