Whenever there is a radio show or TV broadcast about the past the old children’s TV programmes always generate comment, and lots of it. Everyone over the age of thirty five can identify with Captain Pugwash, Blue Peter, The Magic Roundabout, The Wombles, The Clangers, Camberwick Green, Trumpton and a whole host of television favourites that were only available for two and a half short hours, on week days just before tea time.
I remember watching all of it. Some programmes were aimed at kids way younger or older than me depending on my age at the time, but I watched the little kiddies stuff with a reassuring comfort that The Flower Pot Men and Weed still couldn’t speak and the older children’s programmes with the excitement that always comes with being allowed to do something with ‘the bigger kids’. What I also knew was that everyone other child in the land was doing the same thing. When I went to school the next day we would discuss the finer points of last night’s craft efforts on Blue Peter and commiserate that no-one’s mum had an empty washing up bottle. We would laugh together at the latest antics on Grange Hill and argue the merits of Tiswas over Swap Shop.
The great thing was that there was so little of it… and so we all watched the same things. Regardless of social standing, ethnic origin and who your best friend that week was we all shared the same experiences each day for a while. The other benefit of there being so little was that we had to go out and play with other kids in between and learn social skills face to face rather than via a computer screen. We had to call for a friend, which meant talking to their mum or dad, we had to make up for our arguments or have an unpleasant time at school the next day and we dealt with bullies face to face.
In a social situation now, with people I have never met before, references to old kids TV make everyone laugh. We all shared the same jokes then and remember characters with the same fondness. I feel sorry that the kids of today have so much. They have their own dedicated channels, lots of them, endless variety of similar cartoons and they can sit in front of The Box from the minute they wake to the minute they go to sleep… and when they grow up they will find that their friends watched other programmes and that shared childhood of my entire generation will be a thing of the past.