The greatest children's TV shows of all time

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From audacious flights of fancy to valuable life lessons, children's TV shows hold a special place in people's hearts.

The things we obsess over in our formative years have the power to resonate decades later. As evidenced by the overwhelming response when we asked members of our Screen Babble Facebook group to name their favourite children's TV shows.

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Here, according to the many comments, are some of the greatest of all time.

'80s cartoons

Though the range of kids programmes celebrated is considerable, the 'golden age' of thrilling animation from the 1980s is highlighted again and again.

"Transformers and Thundercats were great," says Ross Perth. "Some of those 80s cartoons had a good mix of quality stories, great action and important moral lessons."

Swashbuckling adventure Dogtanian and the Muskehounds is brought up by Alan Barley ("brilliant") and Jessica Russ, with both long-time devotees owning the DVD box set.

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"Toss up between Dogtanian and The Mysterious Cities of Gold," adds Jez Garrett. "But for sheer epicness it has to be Mysterious Cities of Gold. Watched it again 10 years ago and it still rocked."

Steve Wilkins, meanwhile, has a soft-spot for the "brilliantly weird" Will O the Wisp, which itself came hot on the heels of another bizarre creation.

"Do you remember Ludwig? A real oddball thing about some kind of crystal egg with binoculars? I’m sure the people that made these things were on something..."

"I was happy watching most cartoons," notes Alan Clark, "which sadly seems to be a dying art form now."

But some things never go out of fashion.

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"Dungeons & Dragons and Thundercats were epic," says Keely Davison. "For the youngsters then I would say Postman Pat. I just love stop-motion animation. It's so cute and innocent.

"Swap Shop was just groundbreaking at the time," says Dave Watkins. "And of course Grange Hill, which anyone of a certain age will have loved growing up."

"Both me and my brother loved it as kids and now my little boy watches it too. It's really stood the test of time. Pat has even gone up in the world. He now has a bigger van plus a helicopter, a plane and a motorbike."

'I still sing the theme tune now'

One of the most memorable aspects of any great kids show is usually its theme tune (so much so, an entirely separate discussion on that subject ultimately sprung up). And there are no shortage of programmes where the music itself brings everything flooding back.

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"I'm so glad it's not just me who remembers The Hurricanes, Jayce and The Wheeled Warriors, The Animaniacs or Galaxy High," says Kev Wilby.

"I think as a kid I was easily swayed if they had a banging sing-along intro, such as Ducktales, Thundercats and Teenage Muntant Ninja Turtles. Poddington Peas is another where I still sing the theme tune now!"

"I basically loved anything with a catchy theme tune," agrees Jessica Russ. "Raggydolls, Fraggle Rock, Getalong Gang, The Raccoons, Chip n Dale, Ducktales and Gummy Bears."

When Yvonne McGue brings up Roobarb and Custard, the reaction is instant: "Cue every adult who reads this trying (and failing) to do the theme song," jokes Grant Cruickshank.

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"I really loved Dogtanian and Pigeon Street," adds Mandi Dunford. "Mainly for their great and catchy theme songs!"

As for the undisputed best? Janet Marshall reckons Jamie and The Magic Torch has it.

Retrospectives on children's TV:

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From the mists of time...

For some, their most beloved children's TV shows go back much further. But are no less fondly recalled.

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Steve Playle points to '70s Saturday morning show Tiswas, while late '60s cartoon Mary, Mungo and Midge is also raised by several people.

Steve Wilkins is also keen to highlight the classic instalments of Doctor Who.

"I know it’s more of a 'family' show these days but back when I started watching it, in the Jon Pertwee era, it was most definitely a kids show. It’s lasted over fifty years and has some of the most inventive story telling and most original characters ever seen on TV. It can go anywhere and any-when. There is nothing else like it!"

"Definitely Rag Tag and Bobtail," says Phillip Butler. "Google it."

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"The Magic Roundabout, a true classic of its time," adds Sheila Mackie. "That might need Googling too!"

Just some of the other shows saluted by Screen Babble readers:

Horrible Histories

Jossy's Giants

Top Cat

Maid Marian and Her Merry Men

Banana Splits

The Moomins

Fraggle Rock



The Clangers


Knight Rider


Mr Benn ("we even named the family tortoise after him," recalls Dave Watkins)


Danger Mouse




• Join the discussion now on Screen Babble, the TV chat group on Facebook.

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