In Memory of Tony Hart, 30 and 40-somethings all over Britain are mourning his passing today. This, along with the death of Oliver Postgate, had me thinking about how great kids TV was in the 70s.
Tony Hart, first with Vision On (which I have to admit I barely remember), then Take Hart and Hart Beat, inspired kids with the slightest inclination to do drawing to try new methods.
Johnny Ball, another great 70s stalwart, was also inspirational with Think of a Number, and Think Again later on. Both of these programs took maths, and then science, and turned them into entertainment.
Postgate's contributions were more pure entertainment value. Be it the demonically possessed train that was Ivor the Engine, teaching kids all over the world what Wales is like, the surreal, almost trippy Clangers, or the favourite cuddly toy of all 5 year old girls, Bagpuss.
We did have some let downs (things like Play away would always make me turn over to the ITV *gasp*), we did have some stuff that the parents didn't like (who can forget the uproar over some of the stories in Grange Hill?), and we did have some dreadful imports (Heidi, anyone?). The fact is, today what with our 30 channels of non-stop American/Japanese Cartoons, kids don't need to watch BBC1 to see kids stuff. The BBC know this, so they don't make any effort whatsoever. Sure, Blue Peter's still there, but that always will be as far as I can see. The stuff they do show now isn't going to inspire anyone. It starts too early, and finishes earlier as well.
When I was a child, putting your child down in front of the TV was considered bad form by a lot of parenting groups. Quite frankly, if the TV wasn't as good as it was, I'd be inclined to agree. But now, I'm sure it doesn't do anything more then make little Johnny want to go and play on his latest PS3 game.
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