Classic Children's TV Shows From A Bygone Era

by mtranson | created - 04 Dec 2011 | updated - 04 Dec 2011 | Public

A list that is guaranteed to make you feel old. Programmes listed mostly appeared sometime after TV started realising that children watched TV too and sometime before the toy companies started realising that children watched TV too. You just can't get quality like this anymore.

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1. Bagpuss (1974)

15 min | Animation, Comedy, Family

Bagpuss and his friends are toys in a turn of the century shop for 'found things'. When young Emily brings them a new object, the toys come to life to work out what the strange new thing ... See full summary »

Stars: Oliver Postgate, Sandra Kerr, John Faulkner, Emily Firmin

Votes: 764

Voted as the best BBC Kids programme of all time. Starred a pink cloth cat. Starred Gabriel the banjo wielding Toad, Madeleine the rag-doll, a woodpecker called Professor Yaffle who was a talking book-end and lots of mice who lived in the marvellous, mechanical, mouse-organ. The mice were normally on acid; hell-bent on heaving everything. Strange how the bigger characters never moved anything! Each episode started with Emily, the very young shop owner, bringing a sad *beep* item for Bagpuss to look at.

2. Button Moon (1980– )

11 min | Family

Mr Spoon and his family live on Junk Planet. He travels in his baked bean tin spaceship across blanket sky to Button Moon. There he meets many strange characters and watches stories unfold on other planets using his telescope.

Star: Robin Parkinson

Votes: 558

Mr and Mrs Spoon, Eggbert and the spoon's daughter, Tina T-Spoon. It's amazing how much he could see through the telescope back to Earth.

3. Captain Pugwash (1957–1966)

5 min | Animation, Family

The adventures of Captain Pugwash and his crew aboard the pirate ship - the Black Pig.

Stars: Peter Hawkins, Noel Coleman

Votes: 193

Starred Roger the Cabin Boy, Master Bates and Seamen Staines. Excellent mushroom induced fun!

4. Danger Mouse (1981–1992)

TV-Y | 25 min | Animation, Comedy, Family

Danger Mouse, the greatest secret agent in the world, must follow Colonel K's orders (and try not to break Professor Squawkencluck's inventions) to foil Baron Greenback's and his henchman Stiletto's plans.

Stars: David Jason, Terry Scott, Edward Kelsey, Brian Trueman

Votes: 2,967

Colonel K would give Danger Mouse and Penfold (now confirmed as being a mole), who said "Ooh Crickey" a lot, a mission against the evil Barren Greenback - an asthmatic frog with heavy shopping. DM lived in a pillar box and had a cool yellow car that could turn into a plane. Class.

5. Animal Kwackers (1975– )

20 min | Comedy, Family, Fantasy

Four garishly-coloured, music-loving animals - Rory the lion, Bongo the dog, Boots the tiger and Twang the monkey - visit Planet Earth in their flying saucer from the mysterious planet of '... See full summary »

Star: Gerry Cowan

Votes: 24

The Kwackers were Bongo, Rory, Twang and Boots. Utter madness.

6. Bananaman (1983–1986)

5 min | Animation, Comedy, Family

Stupid, but well-meaning and super-strong super-hero, Bananaman gets his strength from eating bananas. Before he eats a banana, Bananaman is a young boy called Eric who is keen to keep his ... See full summary »

Stars: Graeme Garden, Bill Oddie, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Jill Shilling

Votes: 1,376

There once was an ordinary young boy called Eric but when Eric bit into a banana, an amazing transformation occurred. Eric is Bananaman! Cool eh!

7. The Banana Splits Adventure Hour (1968–1970)

TV-G | 60 min | Adventure, Animation, Family

A pop group consisting of four anthropomorphic animals host a variety of cartoons, songs, and skits.

Stars: The Krofft Puppets, Kim Kahana, Frank Aletter, Rockne Tarkington

Votes: 1,426

Bingo, Fleegle, Drooper and Snorky. One of the most memorable theme tunes and a genuinly funny programme. I always enjoyed the car chase at the end with someone always falling for the "My cars broken down" joke.

8. The Adventure Game (1980– )

Adventure, Family, Fantasy

Three people are stranded on a planet on the far side of the galaxy. In order to return to earth they must first locate a crystal to power their spacecraft. But (and this is where the whole... See full summary »

Stars: Chris Lever, Charmian Gradwell, Bill Homewood, Sarah Lam

Votes: 136

Bizarre celebrity quiz programme on BBC2. Four travellers would go around a maze of puzzles trying to win green cheese rolls before ending up at "The Vortex" a grid where you had to get from one end to the other without being captured by an invisible beam. Sheer bliss.

9. Battle of the Planets (1978–1985)

TV-Y7 | 30 min | Animation, Action, Adventure

A five-member superhero team called G-Force fights to defend Earth and its space colonies from the threat of the planet Spectra.

Stars: Alan Young, Keye Luke, Ronnie Schell, Janet Waldo

Votes: 1,604

Possibly the greatest show ever, Stirring theme tune, great stories, loathsome enemies. Ah yesterday!

7 Zark 7 - Looked after the undersea base 1 Rover 1 - Gave 7 Zark 7 a hand. Chief Anderson - Their boss Mark - Flew a plane. Jason - Drove a racing car. Tiny - Flew the Phoenix and was fat (that's why his name was Tiny!) Princess - Rode a motorbike. Keyop - Drove a egg-shaped car thing and spoke funny.

The loathsome enemy was Zoltar (who reported to "The Emperor" which was a bird face on a computer screen)

10. Camberwick Green (1966– )

15 min | Animation, Family

Iconic British children's animated series set in the fictional, picturesque village of the title. Each episode opens with a character emerging from a music box and they will be the central character of the forthcoming story.

Star: Brian Cant

Votes: 263

Camberwick green was the posh bit of Trumptonshire. Old fashioned fun.

11. Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels (1977–1980)

TV-G | Animation, Comedy, Family

The adventures of a superhero caveman and a trio of female amateur detectives.

Stars: Mel Blanc, Gary Owens, Laurel Page, Marilyn Schreffler

Votes: 2,842

The world's first super hero. Looking like a rather crap wookie, whenever anything was needed, Cavey always found it amongst his body hair, including, on odd occasions, rather large dinosaurs. Whenever his hair was shaved (for whatever reason) he'd always be wearing a pair of red-spotted boxer shorts. "Unga Munga. Bad time for a power failure."

12. The Adventures of Champion (1955–1956)

30 min | Adventure, Western

The exploits of Champion, a wild stallion who befriends twelve year-old Ricky North in the American Southwest in the 1880's. Although Ricky, who lived on his Uncle Sandy's ranch, had a ... See full summary »

Stars: Champion, Barry Curtis, Jim Bannon, Blaze

Votes: 100

*beep* Awful.

13. Chocky (1984)

30 min | Drama, Sci-Fi

The strange friendship between a young boy from Earth and an extraterrestrial.

Stars: James Hazeldine, Carol Drinkwater, Andrew Ellams, Glynis Brooks

Votes: 289

A big green floating thing in the middle of the room talking to children with a strange voice. Followed up by Chocky's Children which was just as bizarre. Theme tune was chilling to say the least - a screaming child followed by some soft *beep*

14. Chorlton and the Wheelies (1976– )

12 min | Animation, Family

A wonderfully eccentric series about Chorlton, a happy-go-lucky dragon (named after a suburb of Manchester) who unintentionally foils the evil schemes of a mad Welsh 'Kettle Witch' who tries to stop wheelie people having fun.

Star: Joe Lynch

Votes: 159

Certainly in the top 5 of the greatest ever kids shows ever. Chorlton was a bit of a stupid git really but as he was the biggest person around it didn't matter. If there is one programme people remember from their childhood then this is it!

15. The Clangers (1969–1974)

10 min | Animation, Family, Sci-Fi

The series chronicled the melancholically funny lives of the Clangers, a flutey-voiced family of woolen, knitted aliens living below the surface of a knobbly little planet far out in space.... See full summary »

Star: Oliver Postgate

Votes: 569

Wee pink creatures who ate blue string and lived in space with the Soup Dragon and the Iron Chicken. Seriously - you can't make this stuff up!!

16. Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds (1981– )

24 min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy

In 17th century France, young Dogtanian travels to Paris to fulfill his ambition to become one of the King's Musketeers. He befriends Athos, Porthos and Aramis and falls in love with Juliette. A doggy version of the tale.

Stars: Eduardo Jover, Gloria Cámara, Manuel Peiró, Jesús Nieto

Votes: 2,060


17. Here Come the Double Deckers! (1970– )

30 min | Family, Comedy

The adventures of a gang of seven kids whose clubhouse is an abandoned double decker bus in a London junkyard. Usually involves a bit of singing, a bit of dancing and general fun times.

Stars: Peter Firth, Brinsley Forde, Gillian Bailey, Michael Audreson

Votes: 186

A red London Bus which was made into a kids camp/den. One of the kids was really fat and called doughnut and I think one of the lead girls was called Billy. The young girl "Tiger" owned a tiger! At the end of the theme tune at the end of the show they would all sing "See you next week" and all wave!!

18. Dungeons & Dragons (1983–1985)

TV-Y7 | 30 min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy

A group of kids are thrown into a fantasy world where they must search for a way home, armed with magic weapons that an evil tyrant wants.

Stars: Willie Aames, Don Most, Katie Leigh, Adam Rich

Votes: 4,178

Six kids from Earth are transported to a strange land where they meet a unicorn and the dungeon master. Little dungeon master would leave them a message and then bugger off sharpish before the bad guys, Venga, Tianat and the shadow demon arrived. He never told them the way home. Once, they did make it back, only for Venga to follow them, forcing them back into the D&D universe. Eventually they did make it back, time had not moved on in their absence and they just finished the Dungeons and Dragons ride as though nothing had happened. All quite mad.

19. The Flumps (1976– )

Animation, Family

The adventures of a family of cute, furry creatures - The Flumps. Grandpa Flump, Ma and Pa Flump, their eldest son Perkin, daughter Posie and youngest son Pootle. Each episode contains fun songs and a story from the 'Big Book'.

Star: Gay Soper

Votes: 181

Grandfather Flump and his Flumpet were the stars of this programme about small lumps of brown fur with legs. Pootle was the youngest and would never be seen without his bobble had, he also had a habit of rolling down hills all day. Pootle was joined by Possie and Perkin. Seriously?

20. Fraggle Rock (1983–1987)

TV-Y | 30 min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy

The adventures of the various inhabitants of an underground civilization.

Stars: Karen Prell, Gerard Parkes, Kathryn Mullen, Steve Whitmire

Votes: 6,584

Story of The Fraggles who lived in a rock underneath a lighthouse. The Doozers built things and the large monsters who lived outside would try and catch the Fraggles. "Hey ma, I caught me a Fraggle". Sprocket was the lighthouse keepers dog. Superb.

21. Gentle Ben (1967–1969)

30 min | Adventure, Drama, Family

The adventures in the Florida Everglades of a game warden, Tom Wedloe, his wife Ellen, their son Mark, and Mark's tame bear Ben.

Stars: Dennis Weaver, Clint Howard, Beth Brickell, Bruno The Bear

Votes: 530

Utterly ridiculous show about a big bear, swamp and a little kid shouting BIN, BIN. The bear fell out of favour with holiday after an alcohol fueled sex scandal with Ben in the late 80s.

22. Godzilla (1978–1980)

TV-Y7 | 30 min | Animation, Adventure, Family

The crew of the research vessel, The Calico, investigate strange phenomena and often meet menaces that force them to summon Godzilla to help.

Stars: Ted Cassidy, Jeff David, Al Eisenmann, Hilly Hicks

Votes: 512

A boat of 4 scientist who could press a big fat red button to call on Godzilla who could always stand knee high in the water and then swim underneath it. (no matter where they were in the world). In return the people looked after Godzookie the inept son of the green giant.

23. Grandad (1979–1984)

25 min | Comedy, Family

Children's comedy serial. Clive Dunn plays a caretaker in a community hall and has a large (unseen) dog called Nero.

Stars: Clive Dunn, Geoffrey Russell, James Marcus, Maurice Thorogood

Votes: 30

The story was about an old caretaker called Charlie Quick. Clive Dunn's single "Grandad" reached number 1 in 1970! Truly awful cac.

24. Henry's Cat (1983– )

5 min | Family, Animation

Henry's Cat is a whimsical cartoon series that follows the adventures of a small yellow feline and his friends. Henry's Cat is the typical cat, loving nothing better than to eat and to ... See full summary »

Star: Bob Godfrey

Votes: 134

An English Garfield. Terribly animated, awful voices, bloody brilliant. Who was Henry?

25. Hong Kong Phooey (1974–1975)

TV-G | 22 min | Animation, Short, Action

A kung-fu-fighting pup and his snickering cat sidekick battle crime.

Stars: Scatman Crothers, Joe E. Ross, Don Messick, Jean Vander Pyl

Votes: 2,909


26. Ivor the Engine (1976–1977)

5 min | Animation, Family

In the 'top, left hand corner of Wales' runs an archaic railway line staffed by such characters as Jones the Steam and Dai Station. Their pride is Ivor, the steam engine with a will of his ... See full summary »

Stars: Olwen Griffiths, Anthony Jackson, Oliver Postgate, David Edwards

Votes: 289

Driven by Jones the steam and by the sound of the "voice", closely related to the Ant Hill Mob's car, Chuggaboom. The fire in the engine was created by Welsh dragons so now you know.

27. Jamie and the Magic Torch (1976–1979)

10 min | Animation, Family, Fantasy

When Jamie shines his Magic Torch on the floor of his bedroom a hole appears, leading Jamie and Wordsworth the sheepdog to the psychedelic fantasy world of Cuckooland.

Stars: Brian Trueman, Kate Murray-Henderson

Votes: 292

You can't mention this programme without someone trying to sing the theme tune. Down the helter-skelter, faster and faster towards cuckoo land. Wordsworth the dog. The torch was more useful than a Swiss army knife.

28. Jonny Briggs (1985–1987)

20 min | Family

Jonny Briggs centers on the exploits of a young boy, the eponymous hero (played by Richard Holian), his pet dog, Razzle, and his eccentric family members.

Stars: Richard Holian, Jane Lowe, Sue Devaney, Tommy Robinson

Votes: 113

Young boy, scrapes, top theme tune. Like Grange Hill, would become a breeding ground for actors later to appear in Casualty and Eastenders. Damn you to hell Jonny Briggs.

29. Little Blue (1976– )

10 min | Animation, Family

Add a Plot

Star: Harold Purcell

Votes: 8

An elephant who played with his Mum's biro in the bath and got stained blue. Again - another acid fueled trip into la la land.

30. The Littlest Hobo (1979–1985)

Adventure, Drama, Family

The wandering adventures of an intelligent German shepherd dog.

Stars: London, Allan Royal, Harvey Atkin, Ted Follows

Votes: 956

The littlest hobo made his way across America helping people out before leaving for his next adventure. Kinda like a cop dog.

Kick ass theme:

31. The Magic Roundabout (1964– )

5 min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy

Cult classic children's animated series about a group of human and animal characters that gather at the roundabout / carousel in the park. Although the original series is French there are multiple dubbed versions from other countries.

Stars: Eric Thompson, Jacques Bodoin, Serge Danot, Micheline Dax

Votes: 258

Renowned nowadays for it's drug references. Really??!! Dougal, he was just so laid back. Other characters included Florence, Dylan the rabbit, Bryan the Snail,Ermentrude, Zebedie, Rosalie, Paul, Basil, Mr Rusty and Mr McHenry.

32. The Moomins (1977–1982)

9 min | Animation, Short, Adventure

A stop-motion animated children's television series, often referred to as the Fuzzy Felt Moomins, based on the stories and illustrations by the Finnish author Tove Jansson.

Stars: Hans Clarin, Stanislaw Kwasniak, Stanislaw Wyszynski, Richard Murdoch

Votes: 453

Hippo-like creatures that lived in a strange world. Moomin Poppa had his memories, Moominmomma made sure nobody came to much harm and Moomintroll was the main character and there were masses of episodes about a comet coming towards the Moomin planet and there was also Snufkin and Little Mi. Also involved were Too-ticky, Groke, Hobgoblin, Thingumy, Bob and of course, The Snork Maiden.

Fact: Moomins apparently woodland creatures living in Finland. They eat Amanita Muscaria mushrooms and dance madly to the deepest darkest rhythms.

33. Moschops (1983– )

5 min | Animation, Family

Enter the fun prehistoric world of Moschops the Therapsid and all his dinosaur friends in this classic 80s British children's animated series. Voiced by Bernard Cribbins.

Star: Bernard Cribbins

Votes: 19

A dinosaur that had to look after a flower. Was friendly with Mr Icthus and lots of other dinosaurs. The flower used to sing quite a lot too. *beep* off.

34. Mr Benn (1971–2005)

15 min | Animation, Family

Mr Benn is the ordinary, bowler-hatted office worker who lives in the ordinary suburban street of Festive Road. However, when he tries on a costume in a mysterious costume shop, he steps ... See full summary »

Star: Ray Brooks

Votes: 642

This single? bloke was very smartly dressed (bowler hat and everything). For some reason he always went into the fancy dress shop; went in one door to get changed and would go out the other door into a great adventure. How apt. On returning home he would always find a momento of his visit in his pocket.

35. Mr. Men (1974–1983)

7 min | Animation, Short, Family

The Mr Men are a whole host of brightly colored characters that live in Misterland. All of them have names like Mr Happy, Mr Clumsy and Mr Greedy and their appearance and personality match their name. Narrated by Arthur Lowe.

Star: Arthur Lowe

Votes: 293

These were small blokes (to be followed later by Little Misses) who represented some emotion (Happy, Grumpy et all), physical deformaty (Mr Tall, Mr Strong) or state of mind (Mr Bump, Mr Clumsy). Later versions included Mr Acid, Mr Ketamine, Mr Socially Maladjusted and Mr Social Benefits Claimant.

36. The Muppet Show (1976–1981)

TV-G | 30 min | Comedy, Family, Music

Kermit the Frog and his fellow Muppets put on a vaudeville show at their theatre, bringing in a famous celebrity to help out for each episode.

Stars: Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Richard Hunt, Dave Goelz

Votes: 21,592

Too many good things in this to mention. Pigs in Space and the chef were brilliant.

37. The Mysterious Cities of Gold (1982–1983)

TV-Y7 | 28 min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy

A trio of kids must search throughout 16th Century South America for personal answers linked to the legendary El Dorado.

Stars: Janice Chaikelson, Adrian Knight, Michael Rudder, Terrence Labrosse

Votes: 3,299

An Excellent French/Japanese Anime series spread over a massive 39 parts. Follows Three children, Esteban, Zia and Tao as they travel across South America with three Spaniards in search of the Legendary Cities of Gold. There's a LOT more to the plot than this, and features absolutely fantastic animation and music. Everybody remembers that theme tune, and the most remembered image is surely of the Great Golden Condor flying so gracefully across the sky! Look out for Maya and Aztec temples, the Nazca lines in Peru, reference to 2012 and a whole lot more. This was way ahead of it's time!!!

38. Paddington Bear (1976–1993)

30 min | Animation, Family

The misadventures of a little Peruvian bear living in London, England.

Stars: Michael Hordern, Joel Grey

Votes: 1,040

About a bear that eats marmalade sandwiches, and lives in London. Come on, catch up.

39. The Perils of Penelope Pitstop (1969–1971)

TV-G | 30 min | Animation, Family, Comedy

The Ant Hill Mob has to protect Penelope Pitstop from a murderous lawyer who is after her inheritance.

Stars: Janet Waldo, Mel Blanc, Paul Winchell, Don Messick

Votes: 1,490

Posh girl Pitstop gets a huge inheritance from an uncle, the man in charge of looking after it is actually evil git The Hooded Claw, master of disguise. He sets up loads of traps for Penelope and her only hope of rescue is the Anthill mob. Brilliant.

40. Rainbow (1972–1992)

22 min | Animation, Family

Children's puppet programme featuring music and stories.

Stars: Geoffrey Hayes, Roy Skelton, Stanley Bates, Rod Burton

Votes: 693

Geoffrey (who now works for Sainsburys), Bungle (who was naked except when in bed or going to the beach), George (a hippo) and Zippy. Who could ask for more.

41. Rentaghost (1976–1984)

25 min | Comedy, Family, Fantasy

Harold and Ethel Meaker live in South Ealing and run 'Rentaghost' where they rent ghosts out to the public. Over the years many ghosts came and went but the main Rentaghost crew consisted ... See full summary »

Stars: Michael Staniforth, Edward Brayshaw, Ann Emery, William Perrie

Votes: 419

Three "spooks" live in a house and cause havoc for next door neighbours Harold and Ethel Meaker. The people the other side of the Meakers thought they were mad and much hilarity ensues. There was also the teleporting pantomime donkey.

42. Roland Rat: The Series (1986–1988)

Comedy, Family

Comic stories involving the puppet "Roland the Rat" and his friends living under London's Kings Cross Railway Station.

Stars: Anna Karen, Patrick Allen, James Saxon, Leslie Herbert

Votes: 55

Started on TV-AM (practically saving the company) and then had his own series. Helped by Kevin (gerbil), Errol (welsh hamster) and Reggie (Hyper-active nephew). A kinda prequel to that annoying ginger twat on Channel 4 - Chris Evans.

43. The New Shmoo (1979– )

TV-G | Animation, Adventure, Comedy

A bizarre but lovable shapeshifting creature and his young comic book creator friends investigate reports of the paranormal.

Stars: Delores Cantú, Bill Idelson, Chuck McCann, Frank Welker

Votes: 62

Little white thing that could turn into any shape and was always out of breath. He solved crime and stuff.

44. She-Ra: Princess of Power (1985–1987)

TV-Y7 | 22 min | Animation, Action, Adventure

Princess Adora raises her magic sword and becomes She-Ra, the most powerful woman in the universe, to aid her friends in defeating the Evil Horde so their planet Etheria can be free.

Stars: Melendy Britt, George DiCenzo, John Erwin, Linda Gary

Votes: 4,674

A crap He-Man.

45. The Smurfs (1981–1990)

TV-Y | 30 min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy

The Smurfs are little blue creatures that live in mushroom houses in a forest inhabited mainly by their own kind. The smurfs average daily routine is attempting to avoid Gargomel, an evil man who wants to kill our little blue friends.

Stars: Don Messick, Danny Goldman, Lucille Bliss, Frank Welker

Votes: 14,576

Small blue creatures that lived in the forest. Each one was different and so led to a massive toy invasion. Chased around by Gargamel and his cat.

46. Spider-Man: The Animated Series (1994–1998)

TV-Y | 23 min | Animation, Action, Adventure