Sunday, 15 April 2012

For the children... From local transmitters

As a kid I remember watching children's shows from both BBC and ITV and being from the south there was much to look at especially from TVS, but as well as it might be it may have looked professional but it still seemed a bit distant to me. In the BBC's Hey Look That's Me there was no no fancy budget, hell, there was a studio just small enough to squeeze a camera in. But it was this homeliness which appealed to me, even so much as writing to the programme and getting some badges in return for do so.

Though what I have seen and read, each region has tried to champion its own output, in Scotland The Untied Shoelaces Show entertained Scottish children through the school holidays and the South West, TSW served up Freeze Frame as a Saturday morning alternative to their children. But having this showed that their commitment to local programming was strong and it didn't have to always to appeal to the widest possible group. By having programmes like this for children, the regions felt that this was a link to their youngest viewers, hook them early and they'll stay loyal to your company.

Anglia was an example of a franchise, which would plug away to the network and supplying children's programmes with regularity, the same as Southern/TVS to supplement the bigger companies offerings. But they also had to remember that their viewers were important, so they both created programmes which appealed to their viewers embracing the local flavour. Even through birthday spots for most smaller companies that Gus Honeybun, BC, Oscar Puffin and even Ivor Honeypot became recognisable unofficial mascots for the stations they appeared on. Though Gus Honeybun came to optimise both Westward and TSW as well, becoming as big as the announcers who helped him.

Those days have long gone now with Channel gamely battle on with Oscar Puffin in new decade, not even a friendly puffin can suffice in the world of television now. Though I find it interesting that CBBC when for characters similar to this back up their presenters in the relaunch of the channel, so perhaps they are still there, maybe in spirit but you'll always need a dog or cactus to draw the viewers in.

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