I had a blog post all ready for today. A serious one, about serious things. Then I saw a tweet from someone about a website that sells 80s TV-themed clothing and accessories, and of course, having grown up in the 80s and 90s, I just had to go and check it out. I also read a post by the lovely Rebecca Brown on her blog My Little Notepad about her forthcoming Happiness Project, where she talks about the things that used to make her happy as a kid. And after that, I didn’t really feel like being serious any more.
Instead, in a fit of internet-induced nostalgia, I’ve decided to share with you my top five favourite TV programmes from when I was a kid. The programmes that used to cheer me up after a long, frustrating day at school, or on a dark winter’s evening. That inspired the games me and my sister used to play when we were young and even, without me really knowing it, helped set me on the path that led to me becoming a writer.
So without further ado, here they are…
This was originally a novel written by Helen Creswell, who then adapted it for a BBC TV series. It told the story of Minty, a girl sent to stay with her aunt after her mother is injured in a car accident. She discovers a moondial that allows her to travel back in time, and ends up trying to help two children from the past. Deliciously spooky and at times, downright terrifying!
Children’s Ward was written by Paul Abbot and Kay Mellor. It ran for (I think) 12 series, but the first is the one I remember most clearly. Gritty and fast-paced, it dealt with many difficult issues, and although I watched it long before I realised I wanted to be a writer, I used to make up new storylines in my head that were even more dramatic than the existing ones. Plus, in one episode, a character played by a young Tim Vincent called someone a dickhead. You’d never get away with that now…
I’m not even slightly ashamed to admit I own the entire box set of this. I was dog-mad as a kid (and still am), so this swashbuckling adventure, a cartoon adaptation of the Three Musketeers with canine and feline characters, was right up my street. It was jointly created by Spanish and Japanese animation studios and first broadcast in Japan, which meant the cartoon had a distinct anime flavour. And the theme tune was awesome (at least, until you got it stuck in your head…).
The Mysterious Cities of Gold
I was even more excited when I found the box set of this a couple of years ago. Another Japanese co-production, this time with a French studio, this was a truly epic series about a boy called Esteban who accompanies his father on a dangerous voyage to the New World in the 1500s to search for the lost Cities of Gold.
Hosted by the fabulously sinister Treguard of Dunshelm (Hugo Myatt), Knightmare was a fantasy-adventure game show where a team of kids guided one of their friends, known as a dungeoneer, through a virtual-reality dungeon that used CromaKey (bluescreen) technology. The dungeoneer would be ‘blinded from reality’ by a gigantic helmet that completely covered their eyes, meaning they had only the directions given by the others to help him or her overcome a series of puzzles and traps. They also had to pick up items of food to sustain their life-force, represented by an animation of a head, which would lose pieces as the force diminished. Hardly anyone ever completed their quest, so you were always wondering what sort of horrible end the dungeoneer would come to this time.
And then there's Thundercats… and Maid Marian and her Merry Men… and Count Duckula… and Trapdoor…
What TV did you love when you were a kid? Tell me in the comments below!