One for the kiddies today, and one for mums and dads and weirdos who enjoy children’s programming. I’m going to split this into a few different parts mostly divided by channel. Many channels now offer similar shows for kids, and several shows jump between channels so while some of the shows I’m covering may be exclusive to a particular channel, quite a few of them do hop around a bit. Not that any of that matters of course, it’s just providing me with a loose format to write within.
In my day (and I’m sure that regardless of the age of anyone reading this you will say the same for your own generation) TV for kids was at its pinnacle. I grew up in the mid-late 80s to mid 90s, and therefore had the likes of He-Man, Turtles, Transformers, Thundercats, Hey Arnold, Jumanji and countless others in their original form. While my girls are still at the age to enjoy the even younger oriented shows, they are beginning to get into more character and story driven shows.
In these posts I’m going to briefly cover a variety of the shows they have been watching regularly – some of which they stopped watching a while back, and some which they have only recently picked up.If you have young children then you should be familiar with some of these, if not then maybe you’ll get some insight into how programming has changed since you were a cub. That being said, this post will mainly focus on Cbeebies.
Launched in 2002, Cbeebies has a tonne of original programming aimed at 0-8 year olds and as it is part of the BBC we don’t get commercials interrupting and corrupting us. Instead, between shows we get little skits and stories and songs by a variety of the presenters. Many of the presents will be known to British people for appearing on other shows, and it is a good format for some of these presenters to create their own shows. As you would expect, there is a lot of smiling and light-hearted joking as well as all the playful educational stuff. One thing which is notable too about the channel, is how it changes with the Seasons – each Christmas they put on a pantomime, along with other festive shows, while during the other Seasons there are one-off episodes and targeted programming, songs etc. My eldest was glued to it for the first three years of her life, before she discovered other channels. My youngest therefore does not get as much exposure to it. It really is a great channel though, and plenty of the shows are interesting and fun for kids and adults alike. As there are so many shows on Cbeebies which my girls have watched, I’ll split this post into two parts – today’s focusing on animation. Alphabetical order, ahoy!
3rd And Bird
What’s It All About (Alfie): Short 10 minute episodes featuring a variety of feathered friends overcoming basic problems through social interaction. Most episodes had a song or musical interlude.
Good For Kids: Definitely one for younger kids, pre-school age. My girls only occasionally watched this and I don’t remember them showing much interest. Nice social lessons, cute artwork.
Good For Adults: I don’t imagine there is anything here of value for adults, though I quite enjoyed it – the songs were always decent and the short running time meant it didn’t become annoying.
64 Zoo Lane
What’s It All About (Alfie): A girl who lives beside a zoo and chats with the animals who tell her a different story every night.
Good For Kids: It features stories with morals and a wide variety of bright and lively animal characters – the stories themselves are moral based but not moral heavy – they will entertain primarily, with an overall lesson being something like ‘don’t boast’. The girls liked it but would get bored before the episode was finished.
Good For Adults:Good for teaching the value of a bedtime story, and the stories are fine, but it’s all very basic and child-oriented obviously. I think I’ve only seen 1 or 2 complete episodes.
What’s It All About (Alfie): Three story book animal characters come to life and play with a boy, teaching him about new words and having adventures along the way. Each episode focuses on a search to learn about a new word, with one of the three animals taking the lead.
Good For Kids: The learning aspect is there, but the voice acting, animation, and music are all extremely enchanting.
Good For Adults: Another one that I quite enjoyed, mainly because the recurring song and intro song were good.
What’s It All About (Alfie): A more zany, less plot driven version of Abadas, this teaches children about language by having animated letters holding hands to form new words. Various escapades ensue.
Good For Kids: The episodes are all very short – only a few minutes long, and the blocks themselves are funny enough to capture attention and aid learning.
Good For Adults: It’s another useful learning tool, and because episodes are short adutls shouldn’t get bored and can use the time to help spell with their kids. I quite liked the way the blocks shouted out the letters and words, and the amusing animation while holding hands.
Andy’s Wild/Dinosuar Adventures
What’s It All About (Alfie): Andy, one of the Cbeebies presenters has taken a job at the Natural History Museum/Safari park along with his friend and monkey Kip. Each episode they are given a job to do, but end up going on an adventure through time and/or space to learn about a particular animal.
Good For Kids: For older kids primarily, and those interested in animals. My girls again would watch pieces of this, but get bored before the end.
Good For Adults: I like the idea of this, but for whatever reason it just didn’t work for me. Andy is a decent presenter, and Kip is an okay sidekick, but the jokes and effects aren’t great.
What’s It All About (Alfie): The youngest member of a huge windmill-living family goes on daily adventures with an assorted of imaginative friends.
Good For Kids: Absolutely. There may not be much educational value in it, and I think some fools criticized it for having a lot of baby speech (goggy gi-ah etc), but it’s bright, funny, and is filled with ideas and charm. Although my girls don’t watch it anymore, it was one of the first and longest loved shows they found. We even have a Jake doll.
Good For Adults: Well, I enjoyed it. There isn’t much in each episode, but I loved the music and the funny animals who play with Jake, and the amusing merge of real time with animation. Again each episode is brief, so you don’t mind watching a few in a row – just be ready to have the tunes stuck in your head.
What’s It All About (Alfie): A CG show about a Bunny toddler and his pals who overcomes simple problems and fears with the help of their carer.
Good For Kids: This is quite a recent show and one of the few which my youngest loves more than my eldest. Of course it’s all bright and detailed and lovely, and the ‘problems’ encountered in each episode are the sorts of things kids would worry about – wetting the bed, sharing, noisy fireworks etc.
Good For Adults: Yeah, again I like this one, again each episode is under 10 minutes, and it’s easy to get wrapped up in the charm and simplicity of it all. One of the main characters is voiced by Oscar Winner Mark Rylance too.
Well, that’s enough for now. Feel free to share your thoughts on any of the shows above – which shows your kids watch, what you used to watch etc.