Sunday, 30 October 2011

Dead air is not a crime if there's something in it...

We think that only since 17th January 1983 television has been getting up early each morning to bring a serving of breakfast to the bleary-eyed viewing public or it does seem that this is the date which is remembered by the average viewer. Throughout its 75 years television has been early to rise and late to bed, it only takes a special occasion for it rise from its slumber.

Contry to this the tea and toast is pulled out on several occasions before Frank Bough welcomed the world to Breakfast Time, well he should know... He was on of the faces on the early shift years before the leather sofas were introduced to BBC1. During 1968 owing to the time difference between the UK and Mexico where the Olympics were being held that autumn, the BBC had to mount a breakfast service to cover the events as they happened from Mexico City and also again for the 1984 and 1988 Olympics as well.

" *whispers* And what you don't realise Debbie, he's going to go onto Wogan in a turquoise shellsuit.."

For the time difference between the Americas and this country meant also that the lunar landings in 1969 took place in the middle of the night allowing BBC and ITV to extend their hours, before 1972 permission was needed especially for ITV to be able to broadcast outside their hours which were limited at that time. There was racing and other events which meant the rules could be relaxed for special events then need for them to be covered was some what important.

Of the two royal weddings in 1973 and 1981, both channels opened for business early on both days with in 1973 when at that time because of the three-day week hours were held even tighter then usual thought BBC started at 7.30am and ITV an hour later. When it came to the big day in 1981 BBC started with two cartoons at 7am and ITV at
7.30am began their build-up, even BBC2 joined in at 9.45am with coverage with subtitles for the deaf which showed the versatility of the second channel. These programmes were long affairs, not like the marriages themselves! They would start off at breakfast time and go off the air at the start of the afternoon, meaning that hours and hours of coverage could be shown and with only three channels if you didn't like the pomp and circumstance you had little escape from the day on television.

This all happened before a time when the radio ruled in the morning with Radios One and Two in its infancy, it no doubt that television at this time was something new and different. Though whether that matter to the mothers and fathers going about their business of a morning is a different matter, maybe for the younger viewer this had an effect on.

General elections are another exception to the rule, with coverage starting the night before usually at 10pm when the polls closed. For most of the elections upto the 1980's the pattern would be a closedown about 4am ready to come on again at 7am the next day and for the host, on the BBC, a Dimbleby to catch some sleep with also Cliff Mitchelmore and Alistair Burnet as filling the chair for auntie. By the time of breakfast television which took on the early programmes role for general elections, this was seen the last bastion of television making special apperances before when it usually started up, but the late closedown was still there and one day in 1985 made sure that it was a very late night closedown.

"Yummy! I love a Walls Ice Cream brick!"

With Live Aid which had started at 12pm London time on the 13th July, the concert in the UK was done by 10pm but with also it taking place in America, the time difference for it to be shown on American network television and over here meant that BBC1 had to go into the early hours, but when the importance of such an occasion was realised by Michael Grade, he gave his blessing for this to happen and give over time to the American concert when realising the quality of the acts at the Philadelphia concert. By not wanting to annoy any of the music fans who had tuned in from the start, it was a wise move and thus BBC1 closed down at 4am on Sunday morning. Really with it being a Sunday in the middle of summer, it didn't really matter if BBC1 opened up at about 10am on the Sunday, before the days of 24-hour television it didn't really matter as much as the same with most of the other early starts and late close downs.
"And their line-up for this big game includes a few changes here with Dwight and Kemp coming into the midfield..."

Television eventually closed down later and later with much more things being put into the small hours, with ITV eventually covering the big boxing clashes to fill this time in terms of airtime and the same went eventually for sports which were covered such as the 1987 Rugby World Cup, various Grand Prix and other events. Now it seems no one cares when television should stop and with things like The Sign Zone which are a good thing in themselves, there is a point to that. But when BBC News is simulcasted in the early hours, when news doesn't generally happen. Through the death of Princess Diana, it seems television has felt embarassed by that ever since that they had to cut into a closedown and don't want to be caught with their night clothes on again, but surely there has to be a natural stopping point again for television. With special occasions allowed for events to be covered by broadcasters, but even television must been seen to get tired without a rest since 1989.

Maybe its time we told it go to bed and get some sleep and we'll come back when its good and ready, dead air is not a crime as long as there's something in it and television will feel refreshed for it....

Monday, 24 October 2011

All characters small, furry and funny...

Children's television has always been the domain of weekdays filling in the bit between afternoon programmes and the news, the regulars like Blue Peter, varying children's dramas and also comedy are contained within these confines or were in ITV's case. But they ruled the roost for many years, though apart from Saturday mornings where Noel Edmonds, Mike Read, Chris Tarrant or even Tommy Boyd were to be found, there was one spot on a weekend which would see the programmes for younger people become a key part of the schedule.

After an afternoon of sport and viewers have been updated on the day's even from the newsroom, a slot was available for these shows at the start of the evening's viewing. Maybe later on with the showpiece light entertainment programme forming part of the evening's viewing for both BBC and ITV, there was a need to bring young people to the schedule but also to provide enough entertainment for adult viewers to keep with which ever channel they were watching at that point. Children's programme were as important as anything even at the weekend, so the usual children's hour would be shown on a Saturday. The BBC would be offering programmes such as 'Billy Bunter of Greyfriars School' and Jimmy Edwards in 'Whack-o!' which did later was revived in colour during 1971 and put the Saturday teatime slot, references to Top of the Pops couldn't help the revival and the programme took its place in history and allowed 'Headmaster Professor' James Edward to take off his mortar board for the final time in a series.

"Hello, my name is Michael Cane..."

Throughout the 60's this was the common practice but by the end of the decade this changed with the launch of the new ITV franchises. Supermarionation was called for in the shape of Joe 90 and his BIGRAT, though this wasn't the first time a rat was called upon on in this slot. With the emergence of Dr. Who on the BBC, ITV decided to first counter with adventures of Tarzan starring Ron Ely as the vine-swinging king of the jungle. Though by 1968 the BBC called on a character who had made appearances on other shows but had never had one of his own, laughing onto the slot came Basil Brush. Basil had started out as part of the Three Scampies which Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin gave life to Basil, but the notoriously publicity-shy Ivor Owen gave the distinctive voice to Brush. The character appeared with magician David Nixon in 'The Nixon Line' helping or maybe hindering Nixon during tricks, but these slots gave Bill Cotton an idea, why not give Basil his own show, but just like working with Nixon, give him a helper or a straight man to bounce off with his jokes and puns.

The first of which was Rodney Bewes who came from 'The Likely Lads' to assist Basil with the usual mix of guests and stories but when he left after a year Mr Derek came along. Derek Fowlds later of Yes, Minister and Heartbeat filled the role ably until 1973 when he gave up the role allowing someone else to enter Basil's world of puns and being the stooge for them. That man was Roy North, North before that had been appearing on the West End stage in a production of Joseph and his Amazing Technicoloured Dreamcoat when he was asked to work with Basil. Of all Basil's Misters, Roy North was the one people remember the most. Not to say that Bewes, Fowlds or latterly either Howard Williams or Billy Boyle were no less as good. But North seemed at home in the role and loving it, though a person can only take enough puns, gags and stories for a lifetime and he left Basil in 1976 after three years good service. Basil himself occupied in that Saturday teatime slot for another four years after North had left the show. It had come to the end and Basil moved onto new projects.

"Oh Basil!"

On ITV to counteract the doctor, they called up another time traveller but this time rather then a police box he found himself in a new time looking to get back to his own time. That time-traveller was Catweazle, who was a wizard from the 11th century. First premiering on Sunday 15th February 1970, saw the out of his time wizard arrive and is befriended by 'Carrot' or otherwise know as Edward Bennet, a farmer's son who found Catweazle and through the first series he tried to get back to the 11th century through magic and wizardry. Leading to many slapstick situations as the confusion of this new age, to what some people would say today as 'New Age' person provided the humour, but it was not without good plots including an episode where Catweazle a fraud of a fortune teller who would give odds on tips to the punters at her husband's betting shop. Though creator Richard Carpenter thought that the programme should be able to reflect feelings as well with the time traveller whistfully saying "I belong nowhere." By grabbing the younger viewers making Catweazle a more rounded character like The Doctor, allowed the programme to have good writing and was rewarded as such in 1971 with a Writer's Guild award for best Children's drama script.

Geoffrey Bayldon was not the original choice to play the wizard, the heads of the London Weekend children's department when Carpenter first took his script to them, they wanted Jon Pertwee to play the part. But for them Pertwee had become The Doctor on BBC1, so Carpenter suggested Bayldon who himself had been turned down for the part of the first doctor in favour of William Hartnell. Though many years later they would come together for another show where both Pertwee and Bayldon share key parts together.

After a second series where Catweazle looked for the signs of the magic zodiac, hoping to get back to home to his home time the series' last episode was broadcast at 5.35pm on April 4th 1971 and Catweazle went into the pantheon of these shows.
"If thou can turneth thine electrickery heater on please, thou would be most pleased thanketh you!"

As the 70's turned into the 80's, amongst all the heroes plying their trade on Saturday night, there was a hero of sort who was very British in his make-up. Well his head was grown in Britain anyway! Southern Television was a prolific producer of children's drama throughout its history, though most of it such as Noah's Castle, The Flockton Flyer and Brendan Chase were to be found on a weekday. For a while they experimented with 'Dick Barton - Special Agent', running at fifteen minutes an episode taking on the format of the radio serial. It touched base, but wasn't a huge hit although around the same time there was another series which caught the public's imagination as well. By using the same technique of looking back at children's serials they found a character who he not appeared on the television in a drama since 1953. When the author of the Worzel Gummage books Barbara Euphan Todd died in 1976, screenwriters Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall acquired the rights to Worzel looking to make a film with Jon Pertwee as the lead.

When this idea didn't happen they took it Southern Television who like the idea and decided to produce the series, by using the south's landscape it seemed like a perfect fit for the series with the countyside, small market towns and the seaside provided a background for the stories to placed around.

On 25th February 1979 was the first time when people learned to speak Worzelese in an episode called "Worzel's Washing Day". Supported by Geoffrey Bayldon who's previous experience playing Catweazle came in handy as The Crowman allowed Pertwee and Bayldon to play off each other, backed up with Una Stubbs as Aunt Sally, a very young Charlotte Coleman and Mike Berry later to play Mr Spooner in 'Are You Being Served?' as well. Throughout its run with guest stars such as Barbara Windsor, Joan Sims, Bernard Cribbins and Mike Reid to to name but a few kept the pace up. Its zenith has to be the Christmas episode called 'A Cup o' Tea and a Slice o' Cake' broadcast on 27th December 1980 at 5.20pm including the obligatory appearance for Santa Claus but also Billy Connolly appearing as a Scottish scarecrow. Though in most newspaper at that time decided just to call the episode 'Worzel's Christmas Special' which doesn't quite as the same ring as the episode's name.

"Aunt Sally, have you got a Cup o' Tea and a Slice o' Cake for old Worzel?"

Through Worzel's hi-jinks, scrapes and slapstick over two years and four series. The series finished on the 12th December in the LWT region and on the 31st July in the Southern region, with TVS not renewing the show after taking over the franchise and also when a deal with HTV fell through to keep the programme on air despite a campaign by the Daily Star to do so. Alike most of the other series in this blog, Worzel went his own way. There was revival in the late 80's taking the series to New Zealand and a move onto Channel 4, this time on Sunday mornings. By then time had moved on and from the rudimentary of Worzel, there came another character who had started on Southern as well about the same time but he was now to be found in the big city lights with LWT after assisting Bill Oddie on his Saturday Banana.

Metal Mickey started off as the creation of musician and pirate DJ Johnny Edward who changed his name from John Flux when he joined Radio London in 1965 and staying there for a year. Later on he brought Renee and Renato together for their 1982 number one "Save Your Love". But Metal Mickey was a huge part of his life and Mickey was brought to The Saturday Banana and had made an appearance on a technology based edition of Runaround. It was Mickey's appearance on 'Jim'll Fix' It' talking to children in a marketplace for the programme alerted LWT producer Humphrey Barclay that there might be an idea in using Metal Mickey for something. A pilot was recorded within the month and thus was the start of an early 80's cult.

"I don't know about R2-D2, more like WD-40.."

Set within a family, Mickey had been 'invented' to help out around the home. Very like Worzel and Catweazle there was a fair amount of slapstick to the show, but also with Mickey's misunderstandings and willingness to help plus also adventures as well as pop star in one episode. It was a pop star who helped Metal Mickey as well as Johnny Edward and that was Mickey Dolenz of the Monkees who had found way over to the UK and now was producing the show for LWT with Nic Phillips and David Crossman directing the shows.

Dolenz gave the show what it needed, having been part of the Monkees during the sixties, he knew that there needed to be a zaniness to the show and kept it barrelling along apace. For those three years he was top of the pile, but eventually he was banished to the garage of television history. Though for a price you can still hire him for corporate and special appearances.

In the end the BBC brought Roland Rat across to be in the Basil Brush slot, there was nothing wrong with Roland but time has seemingly moved on. Programmes like The Dukes of Hazard, The A-Team and MacGuyer had become the norm by the mid to late 80's and that slot got swallowed up. There have been rumbling about all sorts of characters coming back to that slot, but even the revived Basil Brush stuck to during the week, not even the idea of Monkey from the PG Tips and ITV Digital ads could persuade bosses that it was worth a punt.

All creatures, small, furry and funny ruled the waves for a fair while but much like most of television of that time, it has moved or just dissapeared. From Basil boom-booming with Mr Derek to Roland calling out to his Rat Fans, they came saw and entertained. But here's something interesting, a mechanical hare was seen on Saturday night not so long ago. Maybe the time of creature is coming again?

Sunday, 16 October 2011

"At the sporting event of the year!"

Its not everyone's cup of tea, I know that. But its there no matter, I'm talking about sport on television. As such nowadays everyone sees sports channels coming out of the woodwork all the time with even niche channels setting up. Even for me a sports fan, its too much nowadays. Whole channels just don't seem right, I was brought up on Saturday sport from a young age with Grandstand or World of Sport with the latter the choice which was always on at my grandparents when we used to visit them on a Saturday afternoon. With Sundays being the other way around at my other grandparents, so that was Match of the Day.

From 2nd of January 1965 when Eamonn Andrews introduced the first edition of World of Sport featuring on that day Motor Cycling Scrambling, Racing from Catterick and also Professional Running from Edinburgh as well. Professional? Hadn't they just only learnt to run by then? Meanwhile on the BBC, there was a diet of Racing from Aintree and also a Rugby League and Ice Hockey, both wrapped up the day's sports results.

As a fan of broadcasting as well, it was also the people who presented the programmes as well, with Dickie Davies sitting behind his desk trying to big up what sport ITV had on that afternoon. This naturally was a boon to any comedians as well knowing that they could get a sketch out of it, whether they were good or not but always material...

1. Were those ladies answering all of Steve Ryder's love letters?

Its just sprayed on you know...

French and Saunders, the two ladies who helped give comedy a kick up the 80's with their sketch shows. They saw the potential in the typists behind the sports presenters backs to be able to give them a life of their own in this 1987 sketch, the truth about what they were doing was they were doing admin like typing letters, requests and other bits of business. So it looked there was always action in the studio as well as the action which was being covered, much like dead air on the radio, an empty studio on a fast moving show is no good to anyone at all. But alike anyone there was always a sense of getting noticed in the background, knowing that even if they could get their face on the screen, well at least they would have something to say next time they were out and about!

2. "In a specially extended edition of World of Sport..."

"Because I'm being paid good money for this!"

Fred Dinenage, what can you say about him? Except that hair you see there has receded right back nowadays.. No! But as a substitute for Dickie Davies he was the man, versatile in the same way as Jake Humphrey is today but where as Jake presented a Saturday morning show, here's Fred on the the best children's show ever Tiswas in a pre-title sequence sketch with his glamorous assistants in the background supplying him with information as well, but its most notable for that World of Sport t-shirt which has been made up so if any person or persons had been drinking the night before and switched on ITV at that time in the morning through their foggy haze would have confused themselves into thinking that it was later then they thought it was... Genius! 

So from the introduction its time for the action! Usually Auntie Beeb would be at a high class event such as thirty men throwing and egg-shaped ball about in the mud all afternoon or doing some other pursuit in the freezing weather while over at ITV they would make do with the New York State Fireman's Competition on the 10th of October 1981 or how about the World Watersking Championship from Thorpe Park on Saturday 12th September 1981? I wonder if all the competitors got a half price ticket to go on all the rides? Mind you, you would want to get wet again after plunging into the lake there? Though an example of this is this sketch from End of Part One, its a long video of the best bits but its in there. But hey, its End of Part One though! Its all good stuff you know, like an extra biscuit with your cup of tea... Beware of the racing results though, as it might bring back memories of a monotone nature...

 A very Dickie Stomach...

So after that top sporting action there only one more thing to come and that's the results... Finding out if you can afford to splash out on  the rolls, but usually more times then not a late goal has up the pathway again... Though reading out all those places week after week must take a toll on a person, because you're never going to go there so apart from a load of people vainly holding onto their pools coupons in the hope they'll get 23 or 24 points and that weeks jackpot, who on earth would could care about somewhere in the back of beyond? Or that's generally their held view because someone hasn't scored a goal to get them that crucial draw... 

Draw your own conclusions from this!

"Some godforsaken place nil..."

So we've come to end of the another action packed programme, next week we'll have Yachting from Cowes, The World Tiddlywinks Championships from Luton and Karting from Far.. nborough.. I do hope you can join again then... See you next Saturday!

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Have a good week, until next week...

Over 500 channels and in the beginning it was a dummy's head in 20 line vision, we've come a long way with television in 75 years from 4:3 to 16:9 and HD. But what's the part that anyone matters, its whether their show will be on at the same time every week, nay every day in some cases. The schedules have been a key pat of the growth of television if that be cooking with Fanny Craddock, A boxing match from the Empire Baths, Wembley or Jools Holland and Paula Yates giving a kick up the anals of television with The Tube. Looking through the television pages say for a Thursday, taking today (13/10/2011) as an example, ask anyone what's on BBC1 at 7.30pm tonight and they'll say Eastenders, that's no matter if they like the programme or not. Its like an in-built sat-nav really that we can tell without looking at television listings when our favourite programmes are on generally.
"Give it the works... *click*"

Scheduling follows a pattern in which the viewer has the familiarity of knowing, as Michael Grade once put it "The smell of a Sunday Night hit..." Sunday's are the night of the costume drama and the detective, the way of putting the feet up and immersing in a book only in pictures and being acted out in front of you. Something like The Onedin Line or Poldark is like a world of fiction spread out, as such for the ladies a strapping but rough hero who battles the rights and wrongs of his world as his mistresses go about supporting him but with enough pep to hold their own in this world. Even something as Bergerac or Shoestring can be seen in the same vain, action and also nice scenery to look at, the men make the programmes as such to be recognisable through the winter months, such was John Nettles' effect that he was able to spread himself from the programme guaranteeing work in panto, personal appearances and also guest star spots with the likes of Les Dawson on his show. The roaring fire and the warmth plus the knot in the stomach of every youngster of that they have to go to school in the morning, this sets the scene perfectly for the post cake and sandwich tea.

A schedule is like a variety bill and of course most the early protagonists for Independent Television coming from that variety background its little surprise they do read like a variety bill in that sense. The acts underneath such as comedians and speciality acts keeping the audience amused ready for the big star to come on and do their thing at the top of the bill. For instance with Saturday nights, entertainers or comedians have always warmed the audience ready for the big show. But in the past few weeks, the new BBC One controller has changed this by putting an edition of Celebrity Masterchef early on a Saturday night where normally Total Wipeout would be to bring in the punters for Strictly Come Dancing, seemingly it has changed the landscape of what a Saturday schedule should be. But that's nothing new, even back in 1970's Lew Grade thought ITV could better be served by putting entertainment in the World of Sport slot cutting down on its hours that they were broadcasting live sport each and every Saturday. That didn't happen totally until 1985 when the programme was seemingly out of date and eventually along with Wrestling, Darts and other sports that programmes like Mind Your Language, Please Sir! and also The Cuckoo Waltz were repeated saying that they were comedy classics. To the young viewer, this was pleasing to see something I had never seen before such as the same would be said also of Windmill on BBC2 at Sunday lunchtimes.
Stand aside The Bionic Woman... It's the Pneumatic Woman!

People plead for structure in their viewing still, know that something will at the same time each day. BBC1 always starts The One Show after a trip around the regions, how much to some people it might be as mind-numbing but it bring a viewer into the evening. They might not stay with a channel for a whole night now, we are offered the choice of viewing so during in a evening I could watch The Sweeney on ITV4, Inspector Morse on ITV3, Mighty Ships on Quest and Catchphrase on Challenge. We are given free reign on being the scheduler nowadays, but when it comes down to it, we just want to know that a programme will on the same time every week or that a certain type of programme will be on at a time.

Choice? The more we want, the more we are confused... Be thankful to scheduler, at least they've made a decision for you or if that's not your bag. Look out, go for a walk, read a book or perhaps we should go back to the potter's wheel... Then at least we know what the programme would be about then...

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Its the same food... Only with sand in it...

So you've been wondering where the midweek blog was then? Oh, you haven't... Well, so... No, that's not the way to make friends or enemies. But I spent five days in Dorset on holiday, in October I hear you say. Well, that's how I roll. So apart from two lovely days it was cold and the 3G signal was more holey then a fishing net combined with a perforated teabag, meaning Twitter reading and doing anything vaguely internetty was out of the question.

With this opportunity, its time to go and annoy the blue, red, green and what other colour you can have coats, without infringing the copywrite of who owns it nowadays. So with no money following about, many people are taking the plunge and rediscovering the holiday camp after many years again now where they would take a break in the sun to remind everyone of how a holiday can be, might be and also experiencing through the lens and on the screen in Boggenstrovia's guide to knowing your holiday camps...

Everything you're wanting is at Pontin's!

Name: Pontins
Colour of Coat: Blue

Ah good ol' Fred himself, this was the choice for Jack and Stan in Holiday on the Buses. With camps throughout the land of course with at its height 30 in total with the first of them opening in 1946 which was an ex-US Army Base. So much was also made about Fred's idea to take the idea to Spain with 'Son of Pontins - Pontinental' the same shit food, only with sand in it as Victor Lewis-Smith put it in Ads Infinitum. An idea ahead of its time in which Benidorm would have just looked at and said that's what we want. The company was sold in Coral in 1978 for £56 million, a bookmakers buying a Holiday camp group? Hmm, I wonder where they got the idea for that from? Think that's weird? Coral's got taken over by Bass Breweries in 1980, so from betting to booze, maybe not the most obvious bedfellows but another world I suppose!

Trevor Hemmings led a management buy-out in 1987 but the booze was back as it was sold to Scottish and Newcastle in 1989. Newky Brown is now available in the bar! The naughties was a time where things were lean for Pontins going through administration and coming out the other side without loss of jobs or parks.

Bobby 'Nankers' Davro leads the names of famous bluecoats via Shane Ritchie, so like other camps the grounding for the these names was one of jollity entertaining people who are mostly there for a good time or either that a good booze up. Its reflective now that Pontins is trying to look towards to Disney for its ideas, taking that influence for its revamp of its parks, but having gone there in the past they may have to think again about a crocodile mascot or the surreal situation where they also had an in-camp television station which showed one story read by an old man which went through the night and was on the next morning much to my family's amazement. Who said that ITV had the monopoly on 24-hour television.

Hi-de-Hi set the benchmark for comedy in the 1980's with another smash for Jimmy Perry and the late David Croft, by using Perry's experiences of being a Redcoat for Butlins at Pwllheli they manage to create a holiday which people could recognise themselves, the frustrated turns, the bright and breezy staff and also the entertainments manager who seemed to be out of place in what he was dealing with. Though the 80's was the right time for the show to be broadcast in with the nostalgia in the 50's coming back into fashion and people seeing there own holiday experience at the camps. In terms of what it set out to do, the target was hit with the sense of the changing nature of what Britain was going through at that time with the last episode suggesting that major changes were needed with modernisation to be able to compete in the 1960's.

Want to bet there's a better holiday? Well, there is! How about this effort from Ladbrokes Holidays to tempt you to go to one of their camps, by using the stars of "Who Do You Do?" This effort

The atmosphere of camps changed over the years where people would look down on them for being cheap and cheerful, where as a knowing wink is appropriate to what it maybe seen as. It might not be the Ritz, but as with everything you pay your money and take your choice as such. Most people make do with this attitude or as it would have pleased Billy Butlin to see them take this attitude with the words "That's the spirit!" ringing in the ears of the campers or is that just Gladys Pugh's glockenspiel?

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Television Presenting? Child's Play!

"I could do that! How hard is it to present a television programme?" The regular call of viewers throughout the land as they see many numbers of faces on their screens day in and day out, as Sue Peacock would testament quite hard on your debut. Sue was picked by Esther Ranzen and her Big Time team to be give the chance to co-present Nationwide along with Frank Bough, the pro's pro. But thinking about presenting especially in children's television, there has been so many presenters over the years since Phillip Schofield took on in-vision continuity in the afternoons replacing the BBC1 robot. Which itself seems alright as Phillip had a radio and television career in New Zealand before coming home and to bigger and better things.
Go-pher broke...
Beyond Phillip the rota of stars who have taken the route of children's television is amazing, but one thing stands out if you were to consider what most of them had done before they wouldn't it even get on the screen today! It maybe said that times were different, with most presenters coming through the media studies route and having been trained in what they should say and to a template. Not that's there anything wrong with that if they are good. 

For example with Play School, most of the protagonists came from a dramatic background such as Gordon Rollings and also Brian Cant as well, Rollings later playing parts in two of the Superman movies with Cant still working occasionally with an appearance earlier this year in BBC 1's 'Doctors'. Their communication skills such as also Toni Arthur and Carol Chell would qualify for them to be good presenters, but then the waters get muddied. Some of the people who joined in the 1970's were to re-write the script literally. Don Spencer was a folk singer but with experience of Play School in Australia, bringing musical experience to the mixture which was already there with the vast experience of singing the theme to 'Fireball XL5'. Added with Julie Spencer, Floella Benjamin, Stuart McGugan, Ben Bazell, Eric Thompson and so many more as well.

"Let's make it a date!"
Then we come to three men who came from left field, who looking at their combined CV's they would not have struck the average person as children's television material. Johnny Ball, now know as a leading light on promoting science through his television programmes and later on his stage shows. But back when he was give the job of entertaining the under 5's that Johnny had already been a stand-up comedian and a Redcoat at Butlin's as well. Hardly, a glowing CV you might say but number two was even more from left field!

On the ball!
Derek Griffths, what can you say about him? Legend is a word which bandied about so easy, but Derek could fit in anywhere. There was time where you could just turn on the television there he would be starring in a drama, singing a song, doing a bit of light entertainment with the best of the day even appearing with Terry Scott and June Whitfield for a touch of sitcom. In 1997, Griffiths originated the role of Lumière in the original West End production of Beauty and the Beast  and played the role of The Child Catcher in the West End run of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Ice, ice baby...

Finally comes Fred Harris, a one time teacher who decided he needed a change of career so one wet and dull afternoon coming back from teaching he was passing a television rental shop and saw Play School on the bank of televisions. So with a thought of "I could give that a go!" and waited until the end to see the name of Cynthia Felgate and decided to write off to ask if they need anyone else to present and put himself forward as a presenter. From this, Fred was launched onto a new path of comedy taking in 'The Burkiss Way' and its television counterpart 'End of Part One'. Which lead to in one episode, threatening to squash a hamster if the show didn't get a better time slot and was taken out of the children's programmes on a Sunday afternoon. Dramatic you might say, but this helped Fred cement his relationship with the viewing public as such for being a steady hand when needed but also with the freedom to be as surreal as a 'Python' member. 

A right One Show!
The worst case? Oh no, that goes to a young lady who had been an actress and had make a career out of being attractive in a number of films both horror and also some which were a bit saucy. She was Jenny Hanley, Jenny had the unenviable task of replacing Susan Stranks on Magpie in 1972. But with the able hands of Mick Robertson, Douglas Rae and later Tommy Boyd, she became action girl for a whole generation of young girls and boys and even maybe crush material as well! Well, she had learned from the best though as she had been a Bond Girl in On Her Majesty's Secret Service in 1969. No better qualified then learning from 007 himself... She etched herself on the memories who saw her and stayed with the programme until its end in 1980, thus proving a movie career maybe the best option for being a Children's presenter.
Jumper-ing to conclusions...

There have been people who've gone the other way such as Jake Humphrey, the BBC's F1 anchor who had previous experience working for IMG's television sport division learning from Anglia's Gerry Harrison. He's proven that you can make the leap, as for Ortis Deeley... Well, everyone knows you can't run before you can walk... Though if you've got rubber legs as well, its twice as worse..

It shouldn't happen to a Kids TV presenter? Maybe it might, maybe it should... But always remember, Television Presenting, it can be Child's Play where ever you enter it from...