We loved our 80s kids TV shows back in the golden age! After school TV was the time we got to control what was on the box! How many of these 80s CBBC TV shows do you remember watching!
1. Simon and the Witch (1987)
Simon and the Witch is a children’s book by Margaret Stuart Barry, published by Collins, illustrated by Linda Birch. It also refers to the name of the series, which follows on. Simon is a very sensible young schoolboy, who has a friend who is a real witch. She is very silly, and a huge showoff. In 1985, the first of the stories (The Backwards Spell) was dramatised for Children’s BBC, and shown as a one off episode (called “Simon and the Witch”) in the second series of Up Our Street, a series of unrelated wacky stories, each with a different cast and writer, linked only by the unnamed ‘street’ of the title. In 1987, the books were made into a television series for Children’s BBC, consisting of twenty five fifteen minute episodes, starring Elizabeth Spriggs as the Witch, and Hugh Pollard as Simon. Guest stars included Joan Simsand a young Nicola Stapleton. It was first shown on 16 November 1987
2. Take Hart (1977 – 1983)
Take Hart is a British children’s television show about art, presented by Tony Hart. It took over from Vision On, and ran from 1977 until 1983. The show featured Hart and the animated Plasticine character Morph, and other characters created by David Sproxton like ‘Smoulder the Moulder’, which was a lump of mould which would create props by ‘spraying’ them out of a spray can. The only other human to appear on a regular basis was Mr Bennett, the caretaker, played by Colin Bennett. The programme won a BAFTA award for Hart in 1984.
As well as demonstrating small-scale projects (the type that viewers might be able to do), Hart also created large-scale artworks on the TV studio floor, and even used beaches and other open spaces as ‘canvases’ (to be viewed from a camera-crane). This idea was later adopted by Art Attack, which began in 1990. A regular feature of the show was ‘The Gallery’, which displayed artworks sent in by young viewers. The easy-listening vibraphone music accompanying this feature – “Left Bank Two”, composed by Wayne Hill – has passed into British TV musical lore. In later series, “Left Bank Two” alternated with John Williams’ recording of “Cavatina”, which is also well-remembered by many viewers.
By the end of the eighth series in December 1983, Hart felt that the format of the show, which essentially continued with much of the format of its predecessor Vision On, had become somewhat outdated and routine. Despite the award of a BAFTA in early 1984, viewing figures for Take Hart by 1983 had gradually fallen since the series’ heyday in the late 1970s. In an attempt to update the image of the series, Take Hart was dropped in December 1983, and replaced by the relatively more popular series Hartbeat.
3. Maid Marian And Her Merry Men (1989)
Maid Marian and her Merry Men is a British children’s sitcom created and written by Tony Robinson and directed by David Bell. It began in 1989 on BBC One and ran for four series, with the last episode shown in 1994. The show was a partially musical comic retelling of the legend of Robin Hood, placing Maid Marian in the role of leader of the Merry Men, and reducing Robin to an incompetent ex-tailor.
The programme was much appreciated by children and adults alike, and has been likened to Blackadder, not only for its historical setting and the presence of Tony Robinson (as well as early, uncredited, script editing work being undertaken by Richard Curtis), but also for its comic style. It is more surreal than Blackadder, however, and drops even more (deliberate) anachronisms. Many of the show’s cast such as Howard Lew Lewis, Forbes Collins, Ramsay Gilderdale and Patsy Byrne had previously appeared in various episodes of Blackadder alongside Robinson. Like many British children’s programmes, there is a lot of social commentary sneakily inserted, as well as witty asides about the Royal family, buses running on time, etc. Many of the plots spoofed or referenced film and television shows including other incarnations of Robin Hood in those media.