Kids TV Classics: Do They Stand The Test Of Time?

12/08/2014 15:01 | Updated 20 May 2015

Children Watching TV

"CAN I watch Danger Mouse, Daddy?"

The question is music to my ears. Because I love any excuse to tune into an old episode of my favourite kids cartoon.

The telly hit from the 1980s, starred a loveable rodent secret agent and his hamster sidekick, Penfold, trying to outwit villainous toad Baron Greenback.

So, when I happened to see an old box set in a local charity store, I grabbed the chance to see if my five year-old would love it too.

Fortunately, he does. Now we're both delighted that there will be some new adventures to enjoy when a remake of Danger Mouse hits CBBC next year.

It's not the only revamped kids classic on the way back. Also set for a return are new versions of the Teletubbies, The Wombles, The Clangers, SuperTed, Bob the Builder and Thunderbirds.

But do the classics always stand the test of time and how well will they go down with a new generation of tech-savvy youngsters?

Danger Mouse was a hit with my child and, like all the best cartoon series for youngsters, it's peppered with plenty of gags for the adults too, ones which still come up fresh.

However, experiments showing my son other nostalgic favourites haven't gone quite so well.


When he was about three years old I bought an Ivor the Engine DVD assuming he would adore the loveable locomotive and Jones the Steam, just as much as I did sitting in the room my hippy-ish dad had painted purple more than 30 years ago. But he just couldn't get it, staring blankly at the screen or wandering off.

Perhaps it was just too 'wooden' for a modern child's tastes or too slow.

Maybe it was Idris the dragon that freaked him out. Idris lives in an active volcano, which, when you think about it is a bit weird given that the action is set in a sleepy corner of Wales.

I kept fast forwarding through episodes, hoping to get to one that would inspire him.

In the end I was forced to admit defeat.

Neither he, nor my other son, have been able to make head nor tail of the much odder Clangers, which I also remembered fondly from my youth.

The thing is that when you re-watch these programmes they don't always live up to your own expectations.

I have to admit that the antics of the pink, mouse like creatures on their potty planet were a bit bizarre.

I was, frankly, at a loss to explain why they ate green stuff supplied by the Soup Dragon.


After a couple of episodes of The Clangers you could see where all those urban myths about 1970s children's shows being inspired by drug culture came from.

And no, in case you're wondering, all those tales about The Magic Roundabout and how the characters in Pugwash got their names aren't true!

I thought I'd love watching Tom and Jerry again. But what I thought was harmless fun actually contained a lot more violence than I remembered and pretty thin storylines. Those DVDs are busy gathering dust at the back of a cupboard.

Thanks to clips online, we've also been able to watch bits of other classics together as a family like Bagpuss, Roobarb and Custard and even Top Cat. Most have left my children cold.


If I'm honest most of them do look a bit dated now. I think their appeal to adults is simply equivalent to finding one of your old cuddly toys in the attic.


Funnily enough, however, some shows stand the test of time, despite being quite basic. My son loved Mr Benn, another hit show from the 1970s.

Its simple format sees a man in a bowler hat go into a fancy dress shop and try on different outfits. He then leaves by a magic door for an adventure.

Both of us love Scooby Doo too.

Of course it's important not to wallow too much in nostalgia. I reckon some of the current shows on kids' telly, like The Octonauts and Charlie and Lola, will be the classics of the future; series that our own children will look back on with misty-eyed affection.

What I've learned is that you can try too hard when it comes to endeavouring to get your children to enjoy TV from yesteryear that instantly transports you yourself back to more innocent times.

Perhaps the new versions of the old classics, currently in the pipeline, will provide the best of both worlds, taking the best of what made the originals so unmissable and making them more relevant to 21st century kids.

After all, I'm pretty sure the revamp of Super Ted won't be featuring quite so many fat jokes. And goodness knows what they are going to do about the gun slinging cowboy and the gay skeleton!

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