From Andy Pandy to Zebedee: The Golden Age of Children's TV (2015)

TV Movie   |    |  Documentary


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Verity Maidlow

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31 December 2015 | l_rawjalaurence
| Nostalgic Wallow for the Over-Forties
It is axiomatic for people from older generations to refer to "Golden Ages," as a means of contrasting the roseate past with the less attractive present. We have the "Golden Age" of television drama, which apparently occurred during the Sixties and Seventies when budgets were plentiful and there were only three channels to choose from. There's the "Golden Age" of Saturday night television, which took place in the late Seventies when THE GENERATION GAME, THE TWO RONNIES and STARSKY AND HUTCH ruled the BBC's roost (and formed the subject of a BBC Four documentary broadcast in 2014).

Hence to commission a program such as FROM ANDY PANDY TO ZEBEDEE is almost guarantee to attract audiences of nostalgia freaks willing to relive their childhoods when they came home from school and parked themselves in front of the television from 4.30 till 6.00 p.m., when the news began.

It makes for a good televisual story; the only problem is that it is not strictly true. There were good children's programs in the WATCH WITH MOTHER slot for preschoolers during the Fifties and Sixties, which provided valuable lifelines for stay-at-home mums. ITV mined a rich seam of children's material at 12.00 each day with short programs such as RAINBOW and INIGO PIPKIN. And we cannot forget the huge impact made by Saturday morning joyathons such as TISWAS and SWAP SHOP. As with all television shows past and present, there were good and bad products; some well remembered, others not. It was only a "Golden Age" for those who believe that the onset of satellite and cable led to a "decline" in production standards - a claim that is manifestly untrue in light of the quality material currently broadcast.

Nonetheless it was pleasant to relive the programs of one's youth and look at how presenters managed to overcome the stilted camera-work to produce some genuinely innovative work. Derek Griffiths was (and is) a multi-talented singer, actor, musician and lyricist, who could liven up any situation. Storytellers such as Bernard Cribbins and the late Kenneth Williams found a natural niche on JACKANORY. The soft-voiced but immensely versatile Tony Hart proved that you did not need to shout to attract children's attention. And the late lamented Eric Thompson moved from PLAY SCHOOL presentation into scriptwriter and voice artist for THE MAGIC ROUNDABOUT.


Release Date:

21 December 2015



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