Watch With Mother, Blip, Blop, Weed plus Andy Pandy, Classic Children's TV in the UK
The regular shows
Watch With Mother.
Watch With Mother, from now on referred to as WWM, was an early afternoon programme aimed at Mum's and their young children. It was screened at the time of day, that, back then, was generally thought to be a good time. Lunch would have been cleared away and little children would be ready for an afternoon chill and nap.
The BBC had previously aired a short afternoon show called for the children. This had brought Muffin the Mule to our television screens. In 1952 WWM became essential afternoon viewing for pre-school children. Some of the most well remembered shows were not aired until 1955. Still this was perfect for me, when we got our first Television set in 1957.
In the 1950s few Mum's went out to work and even less young children attended nurseries. WWM aired Monday to Friday with a different show each day. If my memory serves me well Friday was the Woodentops. If that is true it proves that WWM must have had some impact on me as this is over 50 years ago now.
Over the years there has been much discussion about just how beneficial or harmful these programmes were. My Blip, Blop, Weed title comes from the Bill and Ben show, which I think was on Tuesdays. Bill and Ben were flowerpot men who lived near the bottom of the garden with Little Weed. They talked in gobbledygook such as Blah, Blah, Bleep, Blop and the like. It was claimed that such language would have a detrimental effect on young children by hindering their language skills. However it never seemed to make any difference. All in all it was just good, old fashioned fun.
By the middle of the 1960s some of the original shows had been replaced by shows such as Camberwick Green. However my homage is to those first five early pioneering programmes.
Each afternoon, Monday to Friday, had a particular show many of which held personal favourites. So I hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane, as we revisit Watch With Mother.
Now, are we sitting comfortably, children? Then I'll begin.
Old Fifties Television Set
Early children's Television in the UK
Back in 1950s England most homes did not have television sets. Those that did had enormous, brown television sets that had a screen about 10 inches across and only were available with black and white viewing. These sets would take forever to warm up. You could hear the programme ages before the picture was actually visible. The day that our first set arrived my brother and I sat on the floor bubbling with excitement as we listened to the theme tune for Popeye The Sailorman, whilst the TV took forever to warm up.
This first set was bought by my Dad when I was five. It was just as those described above. It sat in the corner of our small living room taking up as much room as a chair would have done. Children's television at this time had programmes such as Robin Hood, William Tell and Four Feather Falls.
For small children there was Listen with Mother on the BBC radio, which ultimately ran alongside Watch With Mother on the BBC's television channel. I had a title in mind for this hub but it had already been partially taken. The title was to be from Listen With Mother and was "Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin."
Instead I opted for Blip, Blop, Weed for the title of this hub and any old Watch With Mother viewers will know why. For the uninitiated it will all become clear in due course.
The programmes were very much of the time. Monday's Picture Book had a rather well spoken BBC lady reading the children a story.
Andy Pandy on a Tuesday was made up of puppets. Occasionally though there would be a live lamb or some very young chickens included. As an adult, Andy Pandy always sets me thinking about Billy Connolly. His comic wondering about just what Andy Pandy did with Looby Loo in that hamper are now tattooed on my brain. Of course, I know for sure that Teddy and Andy were gay. Well it seems that way looking back.
Bill and Ben shlop a blopped their way onto our screens each Wednesday much to the dismay of many.
WEDNESDAY-Bill and Ben
Children's Television Today
I think Thursday's Rag, Tag and Bobtail eventually became Tales from The Riverbank. Finally, as I have already said, The Woodentops, my favourite, was aired on Fridays. This puppet family stiffly went about their business in an unassuming sort of way. Spotty dog was my favourite character, and I guess the fave of many other children.
Most of the stories of these programmes were simple, brief and often just plain daft. However it is testament to these programmes that I can still remember songs from the shows such as:-
Andy, Pandy's coming to play, tra, la. la, la, la, la.
Time to go home, Time to go home. Andy is waving Goodbye, Goodbye. Goodbye Children.
Or perhaps it is just that I am loony? Still they don't make 'em like that anymore do they? Perhaps its just as well.