Kids’ TV gives us some of our earliest and most magical memories. From Andy Pandy to Grange Hill, from Blue Peter to Hey Duggee, successive generations have been entranced and enchanted.
As part of the BBC’s 100th anniversary programming, Konnie Huq celebrates the very best of British children’s television, with a dazzling array of clips from some of the most treasured programmes ever made, and revealing chats with some of TV’s most beloved stars.
But Konnie also tells a perhaps more surprising story: of how kids’ TV has frequently been at the forefront of social change, in terms of the stories it tells, and the people who get to tell them.
So alongside the glorious nostalgia for viewers of all ages, there is always a fascinating parallel tale. Konnie argues that British children’s television has, from its very earliest days, been quietly trailblazing – ahead of the curve when it comes to the inclusion and representation of minority groups, and tackling emerging social themes long before ‘grown up’ programmes began to address them.
Leading us on a journey from toddler to teenager, Konnie shows how TV educates and entertains children through the most formative years of their lives. Along the way she meets a galaxy of television legends, including her own first TV heroine, Baroness Floella Benjamin; Johnny Ball, Phillip Schofield, Tracy Beaker actress Dani Harmer, Grange Hill creator Sir Phil Redmond, and her fellow former Blue Peter presenters Valerie Singleton and Janet Ellis.
Among the cavalcade of joyous clips there are also some profoundly moving moments, such as when the Growing Pains feature on Going Live inspired an abused child to seek sanctuary; and when the 1987 drama Two Of Us helped some gay teenagers feel comfortable with their sexuality for the first time in their lives.
Kids’ TV is a crucial part of our shared national heritage. In a rapidly changing world, it is one of the few universal reference points for any given generation. This show celebrates that fact, with lavish helpings of glorious footage evoking wonderful childhood memories, while also suggesting that in a wider context, kids’ TV has been even more influential than we had previously thought.
Kids’ TV – The Surprising Story – Wednesday at 9.00pm on BBC One.
Image: BBC/Mighty Productions/Lorian Reed-Drake.