‘There’s nothing more nostalgic than the TV you grew up with, so viewers of a certain age can look forward to the first weekend of the New Year when children’s Freeview channel CITV celebrates its 30th birthday with a schedule full of classic kids’ programmes from the 1980s and 90s.
Shows on offer include Super Gran, the comedy about a bionic OAP (with a theme tune sung by Billy Connolly); Count Duckula, the David Jason-voiced animation about a vegetarian vampire; Press Gang, Steven Moffat’s drama in which Dexter Fletcher and Julia Sawahla bicker over the running of a school newspaper; and Knightmare, which used early computer graphics to transport game players into a fantasy world.
Ahead of this “Old Skool Weekend” (Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 January), nostalgia-fest 30 Years of CITV will talk to celebrity stars and viewers, including Ant and Dec, Holly Willoughby, Fearne Cotton, Christopher Biggins and Matthew Kelly, about their memories of children’s shows.’
See the full Old Skool Weekend schedule below.
CITV DOES OLD SCHOOL
Saturday 5th January 2013
9:25am Mike and Angelo (1990)
9:50 Super Gran (second episode, 1985)
10:15 Wizadora (last episode, 1998)
10:30 T-Bag (1987)
10:50 Engie Benjy (s3, ep1, 2004)
11:05 The Raggy Dolls (1994)
11:15 Puddle Lane (1986)
11:35 Count Duckula (1991)
12:00noon The Sooty Show (1986)
12:25pm Art Attack (1992)
12:40 The Big Bang (1997)
1:00 Finders Keepers (1991)
1:30 Fun House (1994)
2:00 Knightmare (1993)
2:30 Fraggle Rock (1983)
3:00 The Worst Witch (1998)
3:30 Woof! [Eric] (first episode, 1989)
4:00 Dramarama: Blackbird Singing In The Dead of Night (1988)
4:30 Press Gang (first episode)
5:00 The Tomorrow People (1992)
5:30 Children’s Ward (2000)
Sunday 6th January 2013
9:25am Mike and Angelo
9:50 Spatz (1992)
10:10 Huxley Pig
10:30 Rainbow (1984)
10:50 Button Moon (1985)
11:05 The Riddlers
11:15 Rosie and Jim (first episode, 1990)
11:35 Dangermouse (1986)
12:00noon Sooty & Co (1993)
12:25pm How 2 (1995)
12:40 Fingertips (2002)
1:00 Jungle Run (2001)
1:30 Fun House (1995)
2:00 Knightmare (1993)
2:30 Fraggle Rock (1983)
3:00 My Parents are Aliens (2005)
3:30 Woof [Rex] (1993)
4:00 Dramarama: Back to Front (1989)
4:30 Press Gang (last episode)
5:00 The Tomorrow People (1992)
5:30 Children’s Ward (unknown)
Lots of my favourites on the list. I will be tuning in, will you?
Here are my memories of The Mysterious Cities of Gold:
· It seemed to run for about 629 episodes.
· It had an excellent theme tune.
· There was two boys and a girl who were trying to locate the Mysterious Cities of Gold – they were joined by a Han Solo-eqsue pirate, who was friendly enough but wanted to find the Cities of Gold for his own purposes.
· There was a massive flying machine that looked like a Golden Eagle. Although it was in the opening sequence every week, it didn’t actually appear in the cartoon until about episode 483.
· One of the boys had some sort of special amulet or medallion that could help locate the Cites of Gold.
For me, The Mysterious Cities of Gold, along with The MuskerHounds and Willy Fog, makes up the Holy Trinity of cartoon shows from my youth. It’s interesting to note that all three had long, ambitious story lines told over many episodes, and all had a kicking theme tune. If I close my eyes I can just make out a broom cupboard bound-Philip Schofield’s (pre-This Morning) face (and white George Clooney hair), encouraging viewers to write in to get a printed copy of the theme song lyrics. Or was it Andy Crane? Ed the Duck was definitely there. I have a clear memory of watching every week and wondering ‘But when are they going to find that massive Golden Eagle flying machine?!?’ And feeling very relieved when they did.
These days there’s something quite laughable about a small white mouse fighting crime, with an eye patch and a hamster side kick in a creased suit. But back in the early 80s, this secret agent duo kicked Batman and Robin’s ass, and were top of the class in coolness and ratings.
I was born in 1984; making me the grand old age of 26. However, Danger Mouse hit our screens three years before, meaning I was a tad 2000 and late in missing the start of this cartoon caper. But all I had to do was play catch up and ask my folks to pop in the video cassettes of their hay days; back when shoulder pads were actually meant to be in dresses, and way before Boy George painted his neck black.
What I could never work out as a kid was – was Inspector Gadget a robot? Or some sort of cyborg? Or was he just a human with a load of, well, gadgets? Some of them – like the propeller in the hat – could feasibly just be wacky James Bond-esque contraptions, but ‘Go Go Gadget Legs’?!? There’s no way they were detachable.
OK I am now going to look on Google to find the answer. Hang on a minute…
“This is the Evergreen Forest: quiet, peaceful, serene. That is, until Bert Raccoon wakes up….” It was these lines which brought me a giddy thrill over countless Saturday mornings during the 1990s.
Having rushed downstairs to fix a bowl of healthy cereal which I then preceded to bury under an Everest of sugar, I would watch a Saturday morning children’s television schedule which was so varied in characters, plots, and eye-grabbing animation that I would feel spoiled come lunchtime.
However, it is the Raccoons which I always look back on with some of the fondest memories of my childhood television viewing.
Pat Sharp. The man, the myth…the mullet. Even though he was the bloke who put the ‘fun’ into 90s kid’s gameshow Funhouse, he was professional with it. The ringmaster of this gungy circus, the conductor of this wacky orchestra, the referee of this hyperactive match. Well, you couldn’t expect any less from someone whose hairstyle said ‘Business at the front, party at the back’.
THE GANG: (l-r) Wembley, Red, Gobo, Mokey and Boober
‘DANCE YOUR CARES AWAY, worries for another day, let the music play…
down in FRAGGLE ROCK!’
After the success of The Muppet Show and Sesame Street, it was only natural director/producer/puppeteer Jim Henson should take his knack for creating and bringing to life amazing puppet characters, and create yet another huge hit… cue FRAGGLE ROCK!
Fraggle Rock definitely goes down in TV history for the catchy theme tune, one you could often hear being chanted on the school playground. The little gem of a tune really could be attributed to playing almost as big a part in the success of the show as the mastery of Henson. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be involved in this magical world after dancing your cares away in just the few opening moments!?! In saying that you now probably won’t be as surprised as I was to learn that the song even hit the British music charts, making it to an impressive number 33. But then if you are reading this, you probably already know that!
Fraggle Rock was very nearly as big a hit as its forerunner The Muppet Show, airing 96 episodes across a total of five series’ in countries such as Canada, UK, USA and New Zealand.
Thankfully, it was also re-run again and again, as if it wasn’t for this I surely would have missed out on the Fraggles, the Doozers and those giant furry humanoids The Gorgs, as I was a bit too young to have caught it the first time round. (Yes I was born late in the 80s, I know, how sad for me missing out on in my opinion the greatest era of our time).
The main Fraggle characters were Gobo (leader of the gang, who entertains his friends with stories of his globe-trotting uncle ‘Traveling Matt’ from the post cards he sends to him), Mokey (who is a bit of a hippy who likes reciting poetry and keeps a diary with all her thoughts), Red (Ed says: ‘I was Red growing up!’ Red has big hair, worn in two orange puffy bunches, is competitive, fun and a bit insecure at times), Wembley (the youngest, cheerful and cute, wears a shirt with little bananas all over it) and Boober (worry-wart and hypochondriac).
They all live in ‘The Rock’, which is situated inside Doc’s (who the Fraggles deemed as a ‘silly creature’) walls! They also referred to the outside world as ‘Outer Space’ – something they learn from Uncle Traveling Matt’s Postcards, which Gobo has to risk his life to sneak from Doc’s dustbin each time.
Obviously, as would be the case in a show like this Doc doesn’t notice that these cute little souls are living there, despite Sprocket his beloved pet dog failed efforts to draw his attention to them. However, at the end of the fifth and final series they do eventually become acquainted, becoming firm friends.
As for the Doozers, they were tiny (only six inches tall), quite plump and green, and are the second type of species that live on Fraggle Rock. (I especially love the little wellies that they wear!) The Doozers live for working and spend all their time building construction (for no real reason). The fact the Fraggles end up eating it all makes this exercise even more pointless (bastards)! They build this out of an edible sweet-tasting substance made from radishes.
The third species in the series (aside from Doc and Sprocket) were the Gorgs, a family of three huge furry troll-like beings, which consisted of a father, (Pa Gorg) mother (Ma Gorg) and son Junior Gorg). The family consider themselves as ‘rulers of the university, and dopey Junior is the heir to the ‘throne’. They live above Fraggle Rock.
Fraggle Rock also presented many other little songs sung by the Fraggles that are just as enjoyable. They despite the Fraggles as they keep surfacing to steal radishes from the Gorg’s garden – the Gorgs need the radishes as these stop them from turning invisible.
The theme for each show tended to revolve around the usual messages planted in kid’s TV shows – friendship, confidence, trust, honesty, blah, blah, blah! But one thing not so generic about the show was the way it was built as an international show from the start, this factor doesn’t sound like anything out of the ordinary until you consider all the scenes shot with humans were especially done for each particular market, so for the UK version of the show the entrance to ‘Outer Space’, which is what the Fraggles call the real world, leads to a lighthouse where lighthouse keeper ‘the Captain’ lives with his dog Sprocket.
In the US and German versions and in the German version of Fraggle Rock, the hole in the wall leads to the workshop of an mad-cap inventor called Doc (not quite the Back To The Future one, but close Lol!) AND in the French version it leads to a former bakery and new home of ‘Doc’, who this time is a chef, and his dog, who looks exactly like Sprocket, is called Croquette. So wherever you were watching it in the world, it appeared as if it was actually filmed it that country!
After the massive success of Fraggle Rock, a series of books followed, which I haven’t actually read myself but from catching up on the programme recently I should imagine that they are every inch as exciting as the program itself and each page filled with as much whimsical joy.
The DVD’s were also released later on in early 2000’s, proving its popularity as people were buying them 20/30 years after the show was originally aired, embracing the nostalgia of a favourite childhood show and perhaps introducing it to future, unknowing, generations.