For those that don’t recognise the name, A Handful of Songs was one of ITV’s midday childrens shows that kept little ones enthralled for a full ten minutes as two friendly adults sat and sang songs whilst playing a guitar. Now they certainly don’t make TV shows like this any more, but one really has to wonder why? It can’t have been an expensive show to make, and singing songs is something that most pre-school children love to listen to and join in with.
As mentioned the format consisted of a man playing the guitar and a woman singing songs, which had normally been requested by one of the viewers of the show. Requests were normally made by a child painting a picture representing the song they wanted to hear, which then got put up as a backdrop behind the two presenters.
My memory isn’t good enough to recall the names of the presenters, but a trip to the wonderful Little Gems website provided both the names and the image accompanying this post. The show was first hosted by Kathy Jones and Alistair Johns but was only shown in the Granada ITV region. Eventually it made its way onto the full ITV network, where it was presented by Maria Morgan and Keith Field.
There are a number of songs that I do vividly remember hearing on Handful of Songs, including such classics as Rupert the Bear (Rupert, Rupert the Bear! Everyone sing his name), Puff the Magic Dragon and A Windmill in Old Amsterdam (I saw a mouse! Where? There on the stair! Where on the stair? Right there! A little mouse with clogs on, well I declare, going clip clippetty clop on the stair) and of course the theme song, which I can’t remember in its entirety but contained something along the lines of:-
We’ve got a handful of songs to sing you
Old songs and new songs and songs to bring you
Happiness, more or less.
Update! For more about Kathy Jones, take a look at her website which is full of pictures and tells her story from a child singer up to the present day.
Update! 3/3/2011 Having just checked YouTube there is now a remarkably good quality episode of Handful of Songs from the Keith and Maria era. It’s embedded below for your viewing pleasure…
Update! 30/1/2015 A bit of a long shot, but calling anybody who might know how to get hold of either of the male presenters of this show, Alister Jons and Keith Field! I’ve been contacted by someone who’s writing a book about Granada TV’s music programming who would love the opportunity to ask Alister and Keith some questions. If you are able to help, please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll pass the message on. Thank you!