This week marked the 30th anniversary of CITV, programming for children on what was ITV – the UK’s longest-running commercial station. I grew up watching CITV (and its BBC equivalent CBBC), so I was very pleased to hear that its digital spin-off channel of the same name were celebrating by holding “Old Skool Weekend”. They showed a variety of shows from its 30-year history, and so away went my Saturday afternoon.
I kicked off with ancient am-dram adventure “T-Bag”, wherein a precocious ginger-permed brat was tasked with collecting several items with which to expel a high-camp tea-obsessed witch back to wherever she came from. Later I took in Cosgrove Hall’s fondly-remembered “Count Duckula”, Henson Studios’ “Fraggle Rock”, dog-centric caper “Woof!” and terrifying gameshow/ordeal “Knightmare”.
An enjoyable afternoon for sure. I’m not sure I really expected that 20 years (give or take) after first watching these shows, I’d be sitting watching it on a flat-screen TV whilst doing my ironing. Have I changed that much? But I think the more unsettling part of the day is realising little details in your memory were a little off.
I vaguely remembered Duckula being voiced by David Jason, but not in an awful American accent. Also, was it produced in Spain? An awful lot of Latin names in those credits (those credits! Amazing). The Fraggles were pretty much as I left them, though I could have sworn the old man lived in a lighthouse. Why didn’t I remember anyone in “Woof!” apart from – bizarrely – the seldom-used dad?
Still, some things remained comfortingly unchanged. Like the little seed of fear that remains from my afternoons watching horrifying virtual reality dungeon quest “Knightmare”. I always used to watch it with the remote control to hand in case things got a bit too crazy. I mean like giant tarantulas, frequent attacks by unpredictable goblins, the ever-present threat of death in many forms. I suppose now I thought it should look like quaintly amateur entertainment, and indeed the effects look dated but few shows made such an impression on me.
It’s on again tomorrow so I’m definitely going to watch some “Dangermouse” and whatever else they put on. I just want CBBC to do the same. Or better yet, just have a channel for this stuff. I’d kill to see “Round the Twist”, or “The Queen’s Nose” or that stupid “Uncle Jack” show. MAKE IT HAPPEN, TV. Ooh and “Thundercats” and “The Raccoons”! I’M SO OLD 😦