The children’s strand, now a dedicated channel in its own right, CITV is to mark its 30th anniversary in January with some classic programming and a celebratory documentary.
Launched as Children’s ITV in 1983 the strand originally aired on the main ITV network in the late afternoon and at weekends. A short-lived earlier brand, Watch It!, launched in 1980 with each local region presenting children’s programmes with their regular continuity announcers using the umbrella brand. Watch It! was conceived by the promotions department at ATV Network in Birmingham.
In those days the ITV network was a host of regional companies, unlike today’s single ITV1 output across England and Wales. In 1983 the children’s teatime output was the first to be nationalised with a host of presenters taking charge of introducing the days programmes. These included first presenter Matthew Kelly as well as Debbie Shore, Gary Terzza, Isla St Clair and Tommy Boyd to name a few. Links were produced at first at an independent studio in London later moving to Central Television in Birmingham for most of the main ITV strand’s life.
The early in-vision Children’s ITV announcements were all pre-recorded, which proved problematic in rare technical breakdowns. In 1996 Children’s ITV was re-branded as CITV which by this point in-vision presentation had been dropped for the cheaper to operate pre-recorded vocal announcements over the logo, which may have saved money, but was also bland compared to the BBC’s rival output for kids.
Investment returned to CITV two years later along with a host of new young good-looking presenters including Danielle Nichols, Tom Darvill, Stephen Mulhern and Andy Jaye. Over the years a succession of ‘puppets’ also graced the CITV studio including shaggy-dog Scally and a talking Swag bag. The CITV Channel launched in 2006, with CITV finally leaving ITV1 in 2007 amid further cost cutting to the children’s budget.
To mark three decades of Children’s ITV the broadcaster is to air some fondly remembered classic programming such as Super Gran which followed the adventures of a Scottish nan who was accidentally bestowed superpowers which enabled her to battle the baddies., gameshow Knightmare which used at-the-time state of the art animation to create fantasy worlds, drama Press Gang set in a teen-run and aimed newspaper. Also another chance to catch the David Jason and Terry Scott voiced cartoon Dangermouse which followed a superhero London-based mouse.
Other shows being pulled from the vaults include Fun House, Fraggle Rock, T-Bag, Spatz and Art Attack. A documentary is also in production looking back at Children’s ITV
“From Children’s Ward to Dangermouse, Art Attack to Knightmare, and not forgetting the best of Saturday morning TV from Number 73 to SMTV Live and Ministry of Mayhem CITV has been around long enough now to entertain two generations of kids. In this prime time, hour long documentary for ITV1, narrated by Vernon Kay, we look back at our favourites and celebrate CITV’s greatest and most groundbreaking moments.” ITV state.
“We’ll take the stars of Coronation Street for a trip down memory lane as they remember their time on award winning drama Children’s Ward. And we’ll hear from the presenters who brought our favourite shows to the screen and who would go on to become the stars of ITV today.” the broadcaster adds.
Contributors include Ant & Dec, Holly Willoughby, Fearne Cotton, Stephen Mulhern, Michael Underwood, Christopher Biggins and Matthew Kelly.
30 years of CITV airs Saturday the 29th December on ITV1 6:30pm. The classic programming airs on the CITV Channel from January.
Pictured Top: CITV celebrates 20 years in 2003 at the Central Studios. Original presenter Matthew Kelly is joined by a host of Children’s ITV personalities.
Pictured Middle: Gary Terzza and Debbie Shore in 1987 on the Children’s ITV set in Birmingham.
Pictured Bottom: The best remembered CITV presenter Tommy Boyd in 1992.