“THERE DOESN’T APPEAR TO BE MANY PROGRAMMES FOR CHILDREN!”
…but before all of that, we’ve been monitoring this for the last few weeks, and we’re pleased to report that the complete episode of John Craven’s Newsround from 1982 we were banging on about the other week is now working again. Or at least, it was last time we looked, and it’s sort of relevant so we’ll mention it here. It’s actually Tuesday 2nd November, around the time most kids would probably have got bored with Countdown and flipped back over.
“CAN CELT BE SPELT WITH A K?”
Anyway, onto the point, and invariably we have to start with Phil, and his various bits of business. We start here with Phil at ease, browsing through the Radio Times to announce a hideous line-up of You Should Be So Lucky and Treasure Houses, followed by a thrilling trailer for First Class, and then Fax were clearly attempts at a Game For A Laugh-style running down the stairs intro have been stymied by the fact there’s only two sets of stairs so Billy Butler has to hang on a bit. Then we move to 1st April 1987, where you’ll notice a slightly confusing reference to the Broom Cupboard, because initially it was only used to refer to this temporary tiny booth they sometimes had to decamp to, but was later retrospectively applied to the original room. Anyway, you will never get a TV presenter spending three minutes talking about his birthday presents today, and that’s a real shame.
“THE SCHOFIELD AND GOPHER SINGING PARTY!”
Well, you knew this one was coming, and look at all the views! Because it’s been on This Morning and everything, and rightly so as it’s the bit everyone remembers, and entirely down to Phil’s ingenuity, especially as he had to transcribe and photocopy it all himself. We know it all looks dead primitive now, with the mixing desk, but that was all part of the charm. Of course when Andy Crane took over, there was the inevitable follow-up, and here he is bellowing along to Willy Fogg. Sadly we don’t appear to have the day he was CSOd over the opening titles and acted them out, but we can live without that. Here’s another of Phil’s magical musical moments, when he was a trmoboner and there’s nothing funny about that, over Jonny Briggs.
“IF YOU’D LIKE TO SEE IT, IT’S IN THE RADIO TIMES!”
The first CBBC stand-in, of course, was the rather irritating Debbie Flint, who presented it for six weeks in the spring of 1986 while Phil did Take Two, though quite why a studio-based 25 minute show made up largely of clips took a whole week to film, we don’t know. Anyway, she was also in charge for some of the summer of 1986 when CBBC curiously relocated to the mornings and they bunged Heidi and Fame on in the afternoon, and here she is in a Proustian clip featuring two of the ultimate never ending CBBC series. Also filling in that summer, was this marvellous mullet. Er, and the man it was attached to.
“I THINK IT’LL GROW ON YOU!”
As Crane says himself, when Phil left in the summer of 1987, the nation’s kids were devastated, but despite seeming a bit of a comedown at the time, Crane did a decent enough job, certainly compared to his replacement. Here he is towards the end of his stint, trying to talk up the new Grange Hill theme tune (it won’t, Andy) and being generally likeable and amusing, but here’s the bit everyone remembers, Andy requesting, and receiving, carrot cake from the Blue Peter studio. Of course, if you lived in Northern Ireland at the time, this is the first chance you’ve got to find out if they did it or not. A great spontaneous telly moment, that. At that point Crane had cut down his appearances to three times a week, and soon after he legged it completely.
“WE’RE MARILLION, AND WE’RE GOING TO BE ON THE O ZONE TODAY!”
Now we know this looks like the shoddiest line-up ever, but we must point out that we were slap bang in the middle of the target audience at the time and But First This was terrifically exciting, especially because it went on until twelve o’clock. Back in 1988 we also thought this set, in which Andy and “Colin” “Heywood” are sat, was quite impressive, we really thought it was a proper garage with a real backdrop, despite the fact that even in YouTube’s poor resolution it’s blatantly obvious it’s just Pres A with a backdrop. We’d completely forgotten about Clive Griffin. Anyway, wake up, the internet, as here’s the first appearance of Flipper Forrester launching the summer holiday shows in 1990, when they started early for Scottish and Northern Irish kids. And eight weeks later here’s the last morning with various dull outtakes, the end of entirely inappropriate family drama Our House and The O Zone which had a copyright date even though it’s clearly just some videos whacked together for five minutes. And we used to find this whole thing thrilling because, as you can see, But First This had end credits like a proper programme. Oh, and here’s 1991, with Esther McVey MP, although we’d gone off it by then because it finished at eleven and not twelve. We know the last hour was rubbish, but still.
“SAUSAGES, BURGERS, WASPS”
Andi Peters did his best to turn us off CBBC though an era ended in 1994 when they moved out of the Broom Cupboard and into a proper studio, and even though that was the titchy Pres A it wasn’t the same, especially as Toby Anstis turned out to be even worse – less your big brother, more your little sister. Still, he had a good sendoff as he coincided his last day in 1995 with CBBC’s tenth anniversary, and they had a decent turnout in the links including Schofield and Crane, along with the great Chris Jarvis and Simeon Courtie who we used to like, and Dave Chapman on puppeteering duty of course. If you’d like to know more about this, visit the website. Don’t forget the two strokes!
“RALPH MCTELL, BUSTER BLOODVESSEL AND ROMAN HOLLIDAY!”
Although we found it confusing at the time, there is some intriguing Children’s ITV stuff on YouTube. It all started as Watch It! of course, but sadly a load of clips from the pre-recorded era have been made private, oddly. Still, here’s David Rappaport in 1983 with one of those weird links that didn’t have an ending so they could hold it for ages in case the next programme didn’t turn up. Plenty of other people took a turn, including boring old James Baker, Kevin The Gerbil and Gaz Top, in a clip we feature mainly because of How Dare You and its memorable theme tune. We remember even more the closing credits, with that VT clock for some reason. And yes, it’s Carrie Grant.
“IT’S MENTIONED IN THE TV TIMES!”
In 1987, ITV followed the Beeb and went live, although the studio was far too big for our liking. Gary Terzza and Debbie Shore were likeable enough, though, and here’s a rather nice ten minute excursion where they talk through every single programme of interest for children on ITV over Christmas 1987. And who would be a more appropriate guest for Children’s ITV than, of course, Hue and Cry, although they were appearing on Granada sketch show Stop That Laughing At The Back at the time, so they have some kids experience. After a year or so, though, Terzza and Shore were replaced by Mark Granger, and here he is being a bit of a berk in a Broom Cupboard-esque set, followed by Simon May’s theme heralding ITV’s Olympics coverage.
“I’M THE ONLY PUPIL AT PALACE HILL WHO STILL GETS 1940S PUNISHMENTS!”
In fact Andy Crane went up against four different Children’s ITV presenters, which emphasises how frantic the turnover was, especially when they contracted it out to independent production in 1989. Here’s the fourth, Jeanne Downs, introducing some skill shows in Round The Bend, basically Oink comic on the telly, and Palace Hill, featuring half the cast and crew of Dick and Dom (and Ian Kirkby with hair!). We’ve also got the end of that episode with a very faithful parody of the Grange Hill credits, possibly why they changed them. After that was Tommy Boyd, something of an acquired taste, we feel. Then, Steve Ryde’s vocal talents aside, it was all a bit barren, but we thank Simon Tyers for spotting this from 2000. Yes, it is Rory. A sneak preview of the next series of Doctor Who, perhaps?