TV classics: 6 childhood favourites

TV classics

6 childhood favourites

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Remember the days? You’d settle yourself in the living room, maybe grab a few snacks and tune in to watch your favourite TV shows. (Obviously not sitting too close to the screen because everyone knows it makes your eyes go square).

But what were you watching?

What was the go-to show in your childhood?

We asked our customers to tell us some of their favourite TV shows from when they were young. Here are their responses.

1. Muffin the Mule

Originally broadcast live on the BBC between 1946 and 1952, Muffin the Mule was a wooden puppet mule crafted by Punch and Judy puppet maker, Fred Tickner.  

Muffin would dance on top of a piano as host of the show, Annette Mills (sister to British actor, Sir John Mills) would play.

Muffin was often joined by his friends on the show, Zebbie the Zebra, Hubert the Hippopotamus and Sally the Sea Lion.

Broadcast continued until 1955 when Mills passed away, before transferring to ITV for two years.

In 2005 it was revived by the BBC free-to-air children’s television channel, CBeebies and was broadcast until 2008.

2. Rainbow

Broadcast continuously from 1972 to 1992, Rainbow is a classic British children’s television programme.

An educational show at heart, each episode would take place in Rainbow House where the characters Bungle, Zippy and George lived along with the show’s presenter.

Bungle is a bear and was portrayed by an actor (Stanley Bates for almost the entire run) in a suit. He means well and is very inquisitive but can also be exceedingly clumsy. The characters of Zippy and George are both puppets, George being a pink, eyelashed hippopotamus and Zippy, an orange creature of unknown origin with a rugby-ball shaped head and zip for a mouth. Zippy is loud, extroverted and boastful whilst George is more shy and retiring.

Upon debut, Rainbow’s presenter was David Cook, however he was quickly replaced in 1974 by Geoffrey Hayes who would continue with Rainbow through its entire initial run.

After its conclusion in 1992, Rainbow was revived by popular public demand in 1994. The revival contained significant changes, most notably a lack of presenter. This iteration ran until 1997 when the show was axed.

3. Sooty

Perhaps the best well known British children’s television character of all time, Sooty has been continuously broadcast since 1955.

A cheeky golden bear glove puppet with black nose and ears, Sooty is accompanied on his adventures by his friends Sweep, a dog, and Soo, a panda.

Sooty is a magician, often performing magic tricks with his wand and catchphrase “izzy wizzy, let’s get busy!”. In 2017 Sooty was made a full member of the prestigious Magic Circle.

In 1974 Sooty and original host, Harry Corbett both received OBE’s for charitable services.

Longtime producer of Sooty and BBC children’s television, Trevor Hill
is a Parsley Box customer.
We spoke to him about his enduring career and legacy in children’s television.

4. Blue Peter

Well this one had to make our list. A British childhood staple, Blue Peter has enjoyed a continuous run since its broadcast debut in 1958.

The show contains various segments including challenges, competitions, interviews and arts and crafts. Fans can apply for and win the show’s iconic Blue Peter badges. Blue Peter has also provided some very well known catchphrases that have become part of British pop culture, most notably “here’s one I made earlier”. As the show was delivered live and in real time, the use of this iconic phrase was born out of necessity as it saved showing the real-life waiting period.

One of Blue Peter’s most memorable episodes was in 1969 when baby elephant Lulu, visiting from Chessington Zoo caused chaos on the set by urinating, defecating and ultimately proving impossible to control. Lulu’s unpredictability was fantastic evidence for the accuracy of the phrase ‘never work with animals’.

Blue Peter has been hosted by 40 different presenters during its 63 year run. Some presenters have gone on to become British household names such as Anthea Turner, John Noakes and Valerie Singleton.

5. Flower Pot Men

First broadcast in 1952, The Flower Pot Men follows the adventures of Bill and Ben, two little men made of flower pots who live in secret at the bottom of an English suburban garden.

The two characters along with their flowery companion, Little Weed were marionette puppets.

Whilst Little Weed was only able to say their own name in a high-pitched falsetto, the Flower Pot Men communicated in a stunted language known as ‘Oddle Poddle’ and generally got into mischief.

In 2001 a modern reboot entitled Bill and Ben, was created using stop-motion animation. This iteration aired on CBeebies from 2002 until 2008 and included several new characters.

6. Andy Pandy

Andy Pandy first debuted on the BBC in 1950. 26 original episodes were filmed and were repeatedly broadcast until 1970 when a new series of 13 episodes, now in colour, were filmed and distributed.

In these initial iterations, Andy was a marionette puppet clothed in his iconic blue and white striped all-in-one complete with white ruff and blue tri-pointed hat. He lived in a picnic basket and was joined by his friends Teddy, a teddy bear, and Looby Loo, a rag doll. Looby Loo would often sing a rendition of the song “Here we go Looby Loo”.

As with many other television shows on this list, Andy Pandy was later revived in 2002 when a further 52 episodes were created.

Similarly to The Flower Pot Men, these new episodes were made using stop-motion technology rather than marionette puppetry. The setting was expanded to a village and new characters were added.

What do you think of our list?

Did you used to watch these shows?

Are there any shows that you used to love that are missing from our list?