Children's drama on the BBC

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Simon36
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Children's drama on the BBC

Post by Simon36 »

Mention of God's Wonderful Railway on here prompted me think how many very fine filmed (or part filmed) drama serials were shown in the 5.10 slot around the turn of the 80s.

I'm thinking of GWR, Break in the Sun, Enchanted Castle, Swish of the Curtain, Codename Icarus, and a little earlier, one called Circus I can remember zilch about.

Regarding the ones from the 1980ish time, I wondered who was head of children's drama at the time and if there was a bit of a boom in this kind of thing at the time. A few years later I don't remember quite so much lavish costume stuff but maybe that was more to do with it seeming old-fashioned by then.

I know children's tv of that age is a bit of an old-hat topic but I just wondered who the real heroes of some of that stuff were. Watching some of it again now, especially Enchanted Castle and Break in the Sun, makes me realise how lucky I was to see it.

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Re: Children's drama on the BBC

Post by ctraynor »

Generally that era of children's TV was a bit after my time. I read the book of Noah's Castle around that time I think, but only in the last year or so caught up with the series (made 1979, shown early 1980?) on DVD. I thought that programme was pretty good, especially Jack May as one of the principal villains of the piece. One of the best things I've seen him do. The series probably had quite an impact on a young audience at the time. Did you see it?

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Re: Children's drama on the BBC

Post by Simon36 »

That's a blind spot for me though the title rings a vague bell, but very interested to hear what other dramas like this were around!

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Mickey
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Re: Children's drama on the BBC

Post by Mickey »

There certainly never seemed to be any shortage of great drama serials on Children's BBC when I was a kid (I was born in 1975). We've talked before on the MC about how it was far easier (and cheaper!) to obtain the rights to film books in those days. Certainly they seemed to have a fondness for serialising the works of Bernard Ashley ("Break In The Sun" was one of his, and he also wrote "Dodgem", which got a superb adaptation in the late eighties). I only have faded memories of "Break In The Sun". As I recall, the father was very creepy. A great bad guy for a children's drama.

There were loads of such serials, though. If you're going to adapt a contemporary children's adventure story, and you don't want it to look odd, it can't be studio bound, so I guess a lot of them were made on film. There was "The Cuckoo Sister", which had a lot of city locations, in streets and gardens. "The Machine Gunners" had quite a bit of studio work though I guess, with the houses, air raid shelters and the secret den. Great film inserts of war footage, though, which really worked well.

One of the names that crops up a lot is Anna Home. She was head of Children's BBC in the late eighties, but earlier she helped start "Grange Hill", amongst other shows. You'll see a lot of the same names cropping up in the credits though. Renny Rye, for instance, the director responsible for everything from "The Box Of Delights" to "Rentaghost", and Frank Godwin, who produced numerous children's series and films.

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Re: Children's drama on the BBC

Post by Simon36 »

Very interesting! Didn't know they'd done other Ashbys though Break in the Sun is astounding, Brian Hall and Nicola Cowper especially good in it.

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Re: Children's drama on the BBC

Post by Mickey »

Simon36 wrote:Very interesting! Didn't know they'd done other Ashbys though Break in the Sun is astounding, Brian Hall and Nicola Cowper especially good in it.
"Terry On The Fence", "Running Scared", "The Country Boy", "Break In The Sun" and "Dodgem" were all adaptations from his work. There may well have been others. He was a former teacher, so I suppose it's not surprising that his work was seen as particularly suitable for Children's TV.

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Re: Children's drama on the BBC

Post by simon10011 »

Running Scared, is that the one that used a Kate Bush track for a theme? Would love to see that again. This thread reminded me of The Watch House which i think was late 80's, very good as i remember.

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Re: Children's drama on the BBC

Post by Mickey »

simon10011 wrote:Running Scared, is that the one that used a Kate Bush track for a theme?
Yes, "Running Up That Hill".

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Re: Children's drama on the BBC

Post by Simon36 »

I have an Ashby novel called A Kind of Wild Justice that looks just like a tv tie in, and I swear it's Albert Finney on the cover but I can find no reference to it having been a serial.

http://childrensbookshop.com/book.php?cno=85180

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Re: Children's drama on the BBC

Post by Mickey »

I don't think that's Albert Finney. That book wasn't published until 1978, and he was surely a big name already by then? But if you're interested, you can always ask Bernard Ashley yourself: http://www.bashley.com/. Still going strong, and still publishing books.

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Re: Children's drama on the BBC

Post by Mark »

You are right, Mickey, definately not Albert Finney, looks familiar, but can't place him.
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Re: Children's drama on the BBC

Post by Simon36 »

Yes I didn't think it was him but it is a bizarre resemblance!

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Re: Children's drama on the BBC

Post by Clive »

simon10011 wrote:Running Scared, is that the one that used a Kate Bush track for a theme? Would love to see that again. .
Well all episodes are on that well known video site..cough..tube...

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Re: Children's drama on the BBC

Post by ctraynor »

Simon36 wrote:That's a blind spot for me though the title rings a vague bell, but very interested to hear what other dramas like this were around!
Actually, I've just realised Noah's Castle was an ITV one. Southern, I think.

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Re: Children's drama on the BBC

Post by ctraynor »

Item coming up in a few minutes on BBC4 News on the end of children's TV on the BBC.

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Re: Children's drama on the BBC

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One of the great tragedies about that I think is that when I was a child I tended to stay with an channel, and so after the kids stuff or before I had the chance of encountering other things. Watching The Five Faces of Dr Who and staying on BBC2 began my lifelong passion for Sherlock Holmes and also led me to discover The Adventure Game amongst other things, as both were being shown in slots after the DW repeats!

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Re: Children's drama on the BBC

Post by RobinCarmody »

That may well be so but it isn't "the end of children's TV on the BBC", it's the end of children's programmes on BBC1 & BBC2. The BBC still has a major commitment to children's broadcasting across two dedicated channels, even if it's not exactly the same as most people here grew up with. I do wish some people round here would say what is actually happening as opposed to what seems to them to be happening.

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Re: Children's drama on the BBC

Post by Mark »

Simon36 wrote:One of the great tragedies about that I think is that when I was a child I tended to stay with an channel, and so after the kids stuff or before I had the chance of encountering other things. Watching The Five Faces of Dr Who and staying on BBC2 began my lifelong passion for Sherlock Holmes and also led me to discover The Adventure Game amongst other things, as both were being shown in slots after the DW repeats!
I already liked Sherlock Holmes, so after "Five Faces" and "The Adventure Game", I switched over to "Blakes 7", but I know what you mean.!
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Re: Children's drama on the BBC

Post by Clive »

ctraynor wrote:Item coming up in a few minutes on BBC4 News on the end of children's TV on the BBC.
No more Doctor Who ??

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Re: Children's drama on the BBC

Post by Jezza »

Anyone know what they are going to put on during the 3 - 5:15pm slot then on BBC1, probably repeats of lifestyle shows.

It's a bit of shame because generations of kids grew up watching either ITV or BBC during that time, with shows getting millions of viewers, Lizo Mizimba said that fewer than 1000 people were sometimes watching BBC1 at that time recently.

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Re: Children's drama on the BBC

Post by ctraynor »

RobinCarmody wrote:That may well be so but it isn't "the end of children's TV on the BBC", it's the end of children's programmes on BBC1 & BBC2. The BBC still has a major commitment to children's broadcasting across two dedicated channels, even if it's not exactly the same as most people here grew up with. I do wish some people round here would say what is actually happening as opposed to what seems to them to be happening.
Good point, mate. I was in a rush to get some kind of message out on it before the item came up on the news to give forum members a chance to catch it. Of course, the CBBC channels will be showing stuff.
ctraynor wrote:
Clive wrote:
ctraynor wrote:Item coming up in a few minutes on BBC4 News on the end of children's TV on the BBC.
No more Doctor Who ??
Doctor Who will be on, but wasn't that always handled by the Drama Department anyway? Possibly a fine point I know.

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Re: Children's drama on the BBC

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RobinCarmody wrote:That may well be so but it isn't "the end of children's TV on the BBC", it's the end of children's programmes on BBC1 & BBC2. The BBC still has a major commitment to children's broadcasting across two dedicated channels, even if it's not exactly the same as most people here grew up with. I do wish some people round here would say what is actually happening as opposed to what seems to them to be happening.
NFO:
I didn't say it was, I said it was a shame it was now all going to be on an exclusively children's channel for that one reason.

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Re: Children's drama on the BBC

Post by marsey »

Simon36 wrote:
RobinCarmody wrote:That may well be so but it isn't "the end of children's TV on the BBC", it's the end of children's programmes on BBC1 & BBC2. The BBC still has a major commitment to children's broadcasting across two dedicated channels, even if it's not exactly the same as most people here grew up with. I do wish some people round here would say what is actually happening as opposed to what seems to them to be happening.
NFO:
I didn't say it was, I said it was a shame it was now all going to be on an exclusively children's channel for that one reason.

It's also a shame that it's being classed as television for children, when in the past it was accessible to everyone (well a lot of the drama was anyway). Realistically, how many adults will flick over to a children's channel? Not many I would guess. But on the other hand how many would have watched the same programmes if they'd been shown on BBC1?

And it wouldn't have been so bad if the programmes the Beeb had replaced them with were any good.

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Re: Children's drama on the BBC

Post by Darren Fricker »

It must be almost time to dig out, 'The Box Of Delights' again :o)

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Re: Children's drama on the BBC

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Mickey wrote:One of the names that crops up a lot is Anna Home. She was head of Children's BBC in the late eighties, but earlier she helped start "Grange Hill", amongst other shows. You'll see a lot of the same names cropping up in the credits though. Renny Rye, for instance, the director responsible for everything from "The Box Of Delights" to "Rentaghost", and Frank Godwin, who produced numerous children's series and films.
She also had a brief stint at TVS from 1981-86, during which she exec produced Knights of God, which is a perfect example of the sort of intelligent and gritty children's TV drama that we used to have.
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Re: Children's drama on the BBC

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Simon36 wrote:I have an Ashby novel called A Kind of Wild Justice that looks just like a tv tie in, and I swear it's Albert Finney on the cover but I can find no reference to it having been a serial.

http://childrensbookshop.com/book.php?cno=85180
From what I recall, it was quite standard to have "posed by models" photographic covers around that time, for both adult and children's fiction.
"Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo." [Wells]

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Re: Children's drama on the BBC

Post by David Savage »

Nick Cooper 625 wrote:
From what I recall, it was quite standard to have "posed by models" photographic covers around that time, for both adult and children's fiction.
In the '70s, Armada brought out the Jennings books with quite elaborately staged photo covers, featuring adults and kids, which must have taken some effort.

http://childrensbookshop.com/images/boo ... /81257.jpg

http://childrensbookshop.com/images/boo ... /85321.jpg


I expect quite a few people assumed the "TV series" had somehow passed them by.

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Re: Children's drama on the BBC

Post by Mickey »

Yes, they did the same thing with the Biggles books in the eighties, which certainly left me wondering what on earth I had missed, and how.

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Re: Children's drama on the BBC

Post by David Savage »

Mickey wrote:Yes, they did the same thing with the Biggles books in the eighties, which certainly left me wondering what on earth I had missed, and how.

Ah, yes; example:

http://childrensbookshop.com/images/boo ... /78695.jpg

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Re: Children's drama on the BBC

Post by Nick Cooper 625 »

Mickey wrote:Yes, they did the same thing with the Biggles books in the eighties, which certainly left me wondering what on earth I had missed, and how.
I've got a great copy of Andrew Osmond & Douglas Hurd's Send Him Victorious which has cover photo of an army officer with a moustache so fake that it borders on the Python-esque!
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