CITV’s 30 Years of Kids’ Telly

This weekend I have the Most Exciting Plans: scheduling everything around ITV’s celebration of 30 Years of Children’s Television.

When I first heard they were doing this, I was sceptical (“ITV?! I never even *watched* CITV. Or at least just enough to know I *hated* Children’s Ward.” No reflection on the quality of Children’s Ward – my dislike extends to all hospital drama – not my thing.) But a quick look at the schedule reminded me that this wasn’t true, caused a very dignified flail on my part for the sheer volume of Delicious Childhood Nostalgia they were ladling onto the screen, and prompted this rundown of some of the best stuff they were showing on the tellybox this weekend:

“…the vicious vampire ducks!”

Count Duckula! My memories of this mostly extend to the awesome opening theme which scared the crap out of me, even when I knew it was all going to be okay cause the incompetent minions would mistake tomato sauce for blood ANY MOMENT NOW. Possibly this show is to be blamed from my none-too-restrained love of Hammer Horror.

“Enter, stranger!”

Knightmare! OMG KNIGHTMARE I LOVE YOU SO. Friday nights, this was on, and at more or less the same time as *something* on the BBC that my sister liked, so I kept only getting to see the last couple of minutes. I love everything about it. The gameplay, the music (omg, the music!), the graphics, the costumes, characters, sets, and, of course, the brutal unfairness of it all. If you won the trophy at the end, you *really* deserved it, and if you didn’t, your teammate suffered a horrible, horrible end.

It was properly scary: when the face came up onscreen to tell the kids they were running of time, I was *terrified*; HIS FACE WAS DISINTEGRATING. And the noise of…goblins? Orcs? Some sort of bad guys approaching – that sent me literally running behind the couch, folks.

Pickle was a delight. Not so fond of the genie. HUGO MYATT = AMAZING. Didn’t like the changes in the nineties when they seemed to soften everything: music and graphics especially. No cool eighties twang to the theme tune, dammit! I did like Lord Fear though.

Art Attack, oh ffs. The only reason I ever watched this, or indeed, any art show, was because of my sister. She liked this crap, I didn’t. On the other hand, she never ever complained no matter how often I watched Doctor Who, which was kind of a lot, so, y’know, happy memories, in a way.

“It’s a real crazy show!”

The worst thing about Fun House, other than Pat Sharp’s mullet, is I can remember the lyrics to the theme all these years later. MY SOUL IS DAMAGED PEOPLE. Didn’t they get amazingly cool prizes on this? …well, they were amazingly cool to a six-year-old in the early nineties, so shusht.

There was always something weirdly cathartic about watching Finders Keepers. From what I remember there was answering a question, running round a (fake) house in the studio and a lot of tearing the rooms apart and making a massive great mess. Probably this says something dreadful about my mental state, but never mind.

“Look, Ma, I caught a fraggle!”

Confession: I’m not very good at Muppets. I watched Muppet Babies as a kid and I loved it, so seeing them as grown-ups and not in cartoon form was mostly strange and disconcerting to me. Apart from A Muppet Christmas Carol. Cause that’s just brilliant.

I DID GET FRAGGLE ROCK THOUGH. Look at them! All singing and stuff! I feel awful saying this cause it’s exactly the sort of sentiment that I’ll respond to with a glare and eye roll and stuff, but the theme tunes to kids’ shows when I was a kid were SO MUCH BETTER THAN THEY ARE NOWADAYS.

“Oh, crumbs!”

Dangermouse! Oh, someone ruined Dangermouse for me cause they told me David Jason did all the voices (no, I hadn’t noticed, shush) and then I didn’t hear Dangermouse any more, I heard DEREK TROTTER. So thanks for that, WHOEVER YOU WERE.

But before that traumatic incident it was fabulous. Dangermouse, other than the voice thing, is one of those smashing cartoons that manages to be even better when you’re an adult.

“I am so sweet and loveable, cuddly toys just sneer at me.”

Another confession: I never saw Press Gang as a kid. Not any of it. Not once. I have no nostalgia for it, and that hurts. It’s like I’m missing a tiny part of the quintessential television-watching British child growing up late-eighties/early-nineties experience. A PIECE OF ME IS MISSING.

On the bright side, I did watch the whole thing a couple of years ago over a weekend where I was woken up every morning with the words “it’s Press Gang time!” And, yes, yes it was. And it was brilliant. Every good thing anyone has said about this show is true. It’s probably the best children’s show ever made.

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