The top twenty shows listed online are part of a bigger top fifty Radio Times publication feature.

Blue Peter’s most fondly remembered era for many, the 1970s.

“Radio Times is celebrating the top 50 children’s TV shows with four different covers, paying tribute to shows from the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, on sale from Tuesday 9th January.” – Radio Times

Children’s BBC series Blue Peter has topped the list of Radio Times Top 50 children’s programmes of all time. Others in the top twenty include ATV’s Tiswas, Southern Television’s How and BBC Two’s Playschool.

The poll was comprised of votes by panelists, with names on the judging line up including Noel Edmonds, Floella Benjamin, David Walliams, Lenny Henry, Peter Purves, Phillip Schofield, Chris Packham, Sally James and Timmy Mallett to name only a few.

The television guide noted that the outcome has revealed that the 1980s proved to be the most successful decade for children’s programming with sixteen of the top 20 coming from that era. The beeb also came top in the number of productions contained with only three airing on the ITV network in the top 20.

CBBC Channel’s Blue Peter, which spent most of its life on BBC One, topped the poll. The magazine show, originally broadcast from London – and now located at the Salford Quays studios is the world’s longest-running children’s television show, if never the most exciting. The series is remembered for its 1970s peak with the likes of John Noakes, Peter Perves and Valerie Singleton overseeing proceedings such as looking after the BP pets – cats, dogs tortoises as well as going through endless amounts of sticky-back plastic in the great ideas of makes you too can, with the help of an adult, create at home.

The show also mixed big star guests of the day, music and action reports with all the regular presenters going out on location to do something exciting like speedboat up the Thames, climb Nelson’s column or abseil down a mountainside.

Chris Tarrant, Sally James and Lenny Henry reunited a decade ago for a Tiswas celebration on ITV. The original ran from ATV in Birmingham from 1974 to 1982.

Blue Peter survives today as a digital offering on the CBBC channel with its best days long gone. A digital age and a technological era for children has left sticky-back plastic and urinating elephants as a long, but happy memory. At its peak Blue Peter pulled in up to eight million viewers on BBC One. The show will mark its 60th year on air this coming October. Recent negative press on its ratings were poo-pooed by the beeb who rebucked the Daily Mail’s report as inaccurate, the show still has a loyal audience – and we all know the corporation aren’t keeping it on air as a heritage brand, Top of the Pops and Grandstand were after decades of service quite easily disposed of without a single tear.

Other highlights in the top 20 include ATV’s Tiswas which began life in 1974 as a continuity link affair, it grew into a Saturday morning magazine series bringing Peter Tomlinson, Chris Tarrant, John Gorman, Lenny Henry, Jim Davidson, Frank Carson, Sally James and Spit the Dog to television screens until 1982. It was massively popular across the ITV regions which screened the show, mixing cartoons, live performance, guest interviews and general mayhem over the course of of the morning with the Phantom Flang Flinger slapping custard pies around the place while invited caged guests would have buckets of water chucked over them.

“British TV produces the best programmes for children in the world – reading our list produces the most wonderful, warm memories” – Mark Frith, editor of Radio Times

Radio Times Top 20 children’s programmes of all time

1 – Blue Peter – BBC

2 – Grange Hill – BBC

3 – Newsround – BBC

4 – Tiswas – ATV/ITV

5 – Swap Shop – BBC

6 – Vision On – BBC

7 – Live & Kicking – BBC

8 – Going Live! – BBC

9 – Play School – BBC

10 – Crackerjack – BBC

11 – Play Away – BBC

12 – Pingu – BBC

13 – Rentaghost – BBC

14 – SM:TV Live – LWT/ITV

15 – Animal Magic – BBC

16 – Byker Grove – BBC

17 – Jackanory – BBC

18 – The Box of Delights – BBC

19 – How – Southern TV/ITV

20 – The Borrowers – BBC

Swap Shop rivaled Tiswas over on BBC One, Keith Chegwin, Maggie Philbin, John Craven and Noel Edmonds oversaw proceedings from 1976 to 1982.
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