On Saturday 24th April 1937, those children lucky enough to have access to a television screen welcomed For The Children, a first for BBC broadcasting with series of 10 minute shows specifically designed with children’s entertainment in mind, a highlight of the weekend with the show broadcast at 3pm every Saturday.
Along with the presenters children enjoyed various acts, songs, stories and puppets, and the show was a huge hit. Sadly with the outbreak of war its production was halted but the BBC bought it back to our screens in 1946, with a new time slot of Sunday afternoon and a show that was now twice as long and which proved as popular as ever.
Whilst we may not remember the show, it did provide the stage for the debut performance of Muffin the Mule who appeared together with Annette Mills in October the same year. Following the success of his appearance, further puppet characters were developed to feature in the shows and these included Mr Peregrine the Penguin, Monty the Monkey, Oswald the Ostrich, Prudence the Kitten and Sally the Sea Lion.
Muffin went on to appear in his own programme, with live performances broadcast from 1946 to 1955, featuring his famous theme tune “We Want Muffin”. Having transferred to ITV in 1956, 2005 saw Muffin again appear in a BBC series, this time in animation form.
1950 saw the final broadcast of the popular pioneering series For The Children, paving the way for future productions such as Watch with Mother. What is interesting is that nearly 80 years on since that first broadcast on a Saturday afternoon, our little ones tastes haven’t really changed that much in that their attention is still grabbed and imagination fired up by lovable characters and lively presenters, singing and dancing and indeed puppet acts, all of which feature in today’s children’s television productions. For a trip down memory lane, take a look at the BBC’s Website and the nostalgic images of children’s television programmes through the years including Playschool and Blue Peter.
Image Credit: http://bbc.in/1jCI1X8