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Archive for the ‘TV – Kids’ Category

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Super Mario Bros Super Show

Posted by Big Boo on September 17th, 2010

Super Mario Bros Super ShowWith the Super Mario videogames proving so popular, it was inevitable that Mario would sooner or later receive his own animated TV show, and sure enough in 1989 it happened. In actual fact he had more than one show, but the one I remember most was the Super Mario Bros Super Show.

As I recall it was shown in the UK at the end of TV-am at the weekends (though I might be wrong about that) and it was kind of unusual for a cartoon show because it also featured a couple of live action sections at the beginning and the end.

The cartoon itself was pretty much what you would expect, with Mario and Luigi having to rescue Peach from Bowser in many episodes, all set for the most part in a version of the Mushroom Kingdom not dissimilar to that from the games.

The live action section is what I remember most about the show though, if only because it was cheesier than a 12 pound chunk of cheddar. It featured Mario and Luigi running their plumbing business in Brooklyn, and was basically a bunch of corny sketches which normally bore little in the way of links to the cartoon segment.

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The Muppet Show

Posted by Big Boo on July 23rd, 2010

The Muppet ShowWho isn’t a big fan of the Muppets? From their beginnings on Sesame Street at the end of the sixties through the classic The Muppet Show and Fraggle Rock to the more recent movies, they’ve been keeping us laughing for ages!

Today I want to concentrate on what I consider to be the Muppets at their best by talking about The Muppet Show.

The Muppet Show ran for five years from 1976 to 1981 and clocked up 120 episodes in that time. During this time the regular characters such as Kermit the Frog, the karate chopping Miss Piggy and the struggling comedian Fozzie Bear became household names, and are still well known today despite not being on TV regularly any more.

The show was conceived by Muppet’s creator Jim Henson, who was beginning to feel typecast for his work on Sesame Street and wanted to do something to appeal to all the family. He came up with the idea of the Muppets putting on a variety show from a theatre, a form of entertainment that was still popular back in the Seventies but which has become much rarer these days on television.

The format worked brilliantly, with comedy sketches and songs featuring a wide array of Muppet characters and also that weeks guest star. The Muppet Show became the one programme that real life stars wanted to be on, much like The Simpsons has been in more recent years.

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John Craven’s Newsround

Posted by Big Boo on June 28th, 2010

John CravenGood old John Craven. I’m not quite sure how he did it, but somehow he took the most boring programme on TV (the news) and turned it into something kids wanted to watch. Maybe it was his snazzy selection of jumpers, or perhaps his teacher like demeanour, or perhaps it was just because John Craven’s Newsround only lasted for about five minutes, so you didn’t have time to get bored?

John Craven’s Newsround first came on air in 1972, and from then until 1989 the legendary sweater wearer John Craven told kids what was going on in the world in a clear and straight forward way. It was never really dumbed down though, just told without a load of jargon, waffle and conjecture. John gave you the facts of the story, and it was up to you to decide what you thought about it.

Newsround, as it is now called since Craven left the series, is still airing today, and has gone through a succession of presenters including Krishnan Guru-Murthy, who now hosts Channel 4’s evening news and Juliet Morris, who went on to read BBC Breakfast News before going on to present a number of other shows. You can still see Mr. Craven on TV though, as he hosts the BBC countryside show Countryfile.

Of course, the stories chosen were usually ones that were more likely to appeal to children in the first place, such as the near endless stream of stories about Giant Pandas, but you did get real news too. In fact, Newsround (as it became known since John left) was the first British news programme to report on the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II in 1981, and was also first with news of the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion.

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The Red Hand Gang

Posted by Big Boo on May 5th, 2010

the red hand gangIn the days before dedicated kids TV channels, The Red Hand Gang was one of those US TV shows that the BBC always pulled out of the archives to fill in gaps in their children’s TV schedules in the afternoons and during school holiday mornings. Being the BBC though, it was, of course, quality filler material!

The show was an American take on the Enid Blyton Famous Five tales, where a group of kids get together to solve mysteries which they just happen to stumble upon. In this case though we swap the English middle class boarding school kids and the seaside setting for a group of every day inner city kids.

There were five kids in The Red Hand Gang. Frankie was the leader, whilst J.R. was the athletic one, Doc was the clever one, Joanne was the tom-boy, and Li’l Bill was the youngest, and brother of Frankie. They were also accompanied by their dog, Boomer, who even ended up getting his own TV show later on!

The gang got their name from the fact that they used to leave a red hand print on walls to mark where they had been. That was perhaps a bit naughty for the Beeb, but the rest of the show was fairly innocent stuff, with the kids tracking down clues, discussing plans in their clubhouse and they bringing the villains to justice.

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Stocking Fillers - Suppliers to Father Christmas
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Pob’s Programme

Posted by Big Boo on March 10th, 2010

pobs programmeWhen Channel 4 first started airing in 1982 children’s programmes were fairly thin on the ground on the channel. They may even have been non existent because if I remember correctly it initially didn’t start broadcasting each day until late afternoon.

When kids programmes on Four did make an emergence though, they were often aimed at younger children and were actually very good. A good example of this is Pob’s Programme, which first came on air in 1985. It was created by Doug Wilcox and Anne Wood of production company Ragdoll. If that sounds familiar then Anne and Ragdoll have gone on to be incredibly successful with shows such as Teletubbies and In The Night Garden.

Back to our friend Pob then. Pob was a puppet with a large round (presumably wooden) head with big sticky out ears and pinky purple papery looking hair. You never saw his body because he wore a very long pink and yellow striped knitted jumper, the end of which stretched far away below him, and was slowly unravelling as if someone was pulling at a loose end.

Pob was supposed to live inside your television set, so our view was generally of Pob stood in front of the electron guns behind the glass of the screen. Pob would use the screen to write his name and draw pictures, which he did by breathing on the screen (it sounded more like blowing raspberries though) until it fogged up and he could draw on it with his finger.

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Kick Start

Posted by Big Boo on November 20th, 2009

kick startKick Start is another great example of the sort of TV programme that just doesn’t get made any more, and really should as it was great family viewing, whether you were into motorcycles or not.

The show was based in the world of motorcycle trials, which is where riders take their bikes over an assortment of obstacles, trying to do so as fast as possible and without incurring penalties by knocking over items or putting their foot on the floor. It was quite amazing what these guys could do on their bikes, including driving over the tops of cars, the infamous bunny hop over a plank of wood or negotiating a tight circle of logs without knocking any of them down.

Of course while we all marvelled when someone got around the entire course without a single fault, secretly we all wanted the blokes to fall off their bikes in painful looking ways, and we usually got what we were after. There must have be quite a few bruised egos as well as bruised nether regions, as the comedy gold of a man falling onto a log with a leg either side was common place.

Kick Start was presented by Peter Purves who was a Blue Peter presenter in the days of Valerie Singleton and John Noakes, and he commentated over the proceedings with a calm yet genuinely interested manner. Of course, he too joined in with the giggles during the slips, with one memorable occasion being when a young lad fell into a lake, and the St. John’s ambulance men who came to help him ended up falling in too!

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Sooty

Posted by Big Boo on November 16th, 2009

sootyDoesn’t look too bad for a sixty year old, does he? The little yellow bear with black ears that we all know as Sooty has been around since the 1950’s, meaning he’s entertained at least three generations of kids. This has put him in the Guinness Book of Records as the longest running children’s TV show, although the format and name of his TV programmes has changed a fair bit over the years.

Sooty was first “discovered” by Harry Corbett whilst on holiday in Blackpool in 1948. He saw the little yellow bear puppet and bought it for his son Matthew, but it wasn’t long before Harry was using the bear as an assistant in his amateur magic act, naming him Teddy. The duo were spotted and in 1952 they went onto the nations airwaves thanks to a BBC talent show.

Since television was still only black and white a last minute decision was made to alter Teddy’s appearance to make him stand out better on screen. A black nose and mouth were added by Harry’s wife Marjorie and his ears were blackened with soot, which led to us new stage name, Sooty! He also got his trademark catchphrase, the magical phrase Izzy Wizzy Let’s Get Busy, although of course given that Sooty never actually spoke out loud, this was said by Harry.

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Wizbit

Posted by Big Boo on October 19th, 2009

wizbit and wooly the rabbitAs a kid I was fascinated with magic tricks. I had several books on card tricks and simple magical illusions, and also my prized Paul Daniel’s Magic Tricks. Paul Daniels was on the TV quite a lot when I was growing up so he became one of my childhood heroes, which is the main reason why I used to watch Wizbit.

Wizbit appeared in 1985 and was really aimed at younger children than I was at that time, yet so great was the draw of Mr. Daniels that I still tuned in to watch the adventures of the titular large yellow conical creature and a gigantic white rabbit called Wooly. The show was intended to get kids thinking, as it was more about solving puzzles than magic tricks, although given that Wizbit was actually an alien magician from the planet Wow (short for World of Wizards) there was the odd trick too.

The idea was that Wizbit was visiting Earth for a year and a day, although he ended up in a place called Puzzleopolis which is like no town I’ve ever been too. Puzzleopolis was inhabited by a number of strange folk, most of whom were related to the world of light entertainment. Some of the more obvious choices here included clowns and mime artists, although there were walking dice and playing cards, and a big round red thing with massive lips which I assume was meant to be one of those sponge balls magicians use in tricks.

Paul Daniels and his assistant (wife), the lovely Debbie McGee (as Paul always referred to her), also lived there apparently, as did the aforementioned Wooly, who whilst a bit dim witted quickly became Wizbit’s friend and guide to Puzzleopolis. I also remember a big purple lump of slime who sounded like a blues singer who went by the name of Squidgy Bog, but I don’t quite remember what he did other than sound laid back and cool.

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