In these new and – as everyone says – ‘unprecedented’ times, we are all stuck indoors, with a lot of time on our hands. I don’t know about you, but I am watching a lot more television than usual.
This has made me reminisce about all the good programmes I have watched over the years. I was thinking that the people responsible for planning programmes should put on repeats of some wonderful series from decades past.
It has also reminded me of the children’s TV I have been exposed to over my life. Would you like to take a trip down memory lane with me?
In my own case, there was very little TV at all.
Growing up as a small child in Washington, DC, in the late 1940s, there was only one TV show for kids (or perhaps the only one I knew about, but I am sure there weren’t many at all). It was called The Howdy-Doody Show, and all I can remember is the beautiful (as I saw her) Princess SummerFall WinterSpring. I wanted to be her when I grew up.
My parents didn’t have a TV, so every day the show was on, I would walk up three doors in my street to my friend’s house where we would watch it together, sitting side by side on the floor. I suspect is was actually pretty terrible.
Anyone else remember this programme?
By the early 1950s, there were more shows, including one where you could submit your artwork and win a prize, with your name then read out on the programme. Although I always was (and remain) a terrible artist, I submitted something and won a prize. That sort of thing stays with you.
Just as children’s TV was really taking off, I was growing too old for it. I do recall The Micky Mouse Show, which involved real children. I saw this occasionally when looking after younger children and still remember the music and the marching around.
As we all know, television programmes for children mushroomed over time. It wasn’t until I had small children, in the 1970s and 80s that I took any interest. There was a wealth of choice, including some fairly awful cartoons.
But without doubt, the best of these programmes was Sesame Street. I watched this regularly with both my children and felt I knew it well. It was genuinely fun to watch by adults, as well as by children.
Indeed, not long ago, I was writing to a friend and apologising for making a mistake. And quick as a flash, the song came to me, “Everyone makes mistakes and so do I!”.
Anyone who watched Sesame Street for any time would remember this. It was sung by Big Bird. I can still visualise him (her?) singing it, rocking to the beat with enthusiasm. I can certainly sing the tune.
Many of the characters remain with me still. Big Bird is easy to remember. Also, Bert and Ernie, with their philosophical discussions. And Miss Piggie, who was memorable, but much less interesting.
But my favourite was Kermit the Frog, singing “It’s not easy being green,” a sad song for all people who feel they are somehow misfits. I watched it recently, and it remains incredibly poignant. As one of the comments below the video says, “It made me laugh and cry at the same time.” Do have a listen for yourself.
I’m not sure there has ever been better children’s TV in terms of style as well as content. Certainly, Peppa Pig, which is the only programme I watched with my grandchildren, was very anodyne in comparison.
There was a time when people used to worry about the influence of television on children. I don’t feel that it had much influence on me, although my generation had much less to watch, and it is difficult to know in any case.
I never worried much about its influence on my children, although that doesn’t mean I was right. Nowadays, people worry about computer games instead. But that is another story.
In any case, I suspect there are whole cohorts of older people who remember the same TV shows from their own childhood or that of their children or even grandchildren.
Now that we must stay home for our own safety, perhaps we can look for those TV shows we liked the best and watch them again.
What children’s TV do you remember from your childhood? What programmes did you watch with your children or grandchildren? Do you think children’s programmes are getting better or worse? Please share with our community!