Monday 9 September 1985 saw the introduction of a new presentation format between afternoon children's programmes
An in-vision presenter was hired, bringing the Corporation up to date with rival ITV which had linked its children's output in this way since February 1983. But the BBC service differed in one major respect - it was live.
Officially titled BBC Children's Presentation, the service was originally abbreviated on air to BBC Children's, although this was quickly changed to Children's BBC.
The presenter was Phillip Schofield. who had recently returned to the UK (he was born in Oldham and grew up in Newquay) after several years of living in New Zealand. Although he was unknown here, he was rather more famous there, as a presenter of children's and young people's programmes, in particular a series called Shazam!
Children's BBC was produced on a shoestring budget and although two small studios were available within the
Presentation department at Television Centre, the expense involved in their daily operation would be prohibitive. And so Children's BBC was presented from a continuity suite, a small room adjoining the
BBC1 Presentation Control Room (officially known as Network Control One, or NC1. This suite was the usual home of the continuity announcer, who would announce programmes out-of-vision and do his or her own vision mixing.
A single, locked off camera was installed, and this tiny room was home to Children's BBC for nearly ten years.
Programmes shown on the first day of Children's BBC included the acquired animation series Spiderman, the quiz game Beat The Teacher hosted by Paul Jones and the perennial Blue
Phillip was immediately popular and his obvious enthusiasm for the job was genuine. He would stay up half the night personally answering viewer's letters. But when multiple sacks of mail started to arrive each day - a good indication of how well the viewers were taking to the new look - secretarial assistance was brought in!
Prior to September 1985, much use had been made of BBC "B" computer animations, which were generated live and voiced out of vision by the BBC1 announcer. The first Children's BBC symbol was created by BBC graphic designer Brian Treggiden, and was also animated using a BBC "B" computer. It was generated live from the
machine each afternoon.
The symbol first appeared on a blue background with the legend 'Children's' underneath the BBC device,
so reading "BBC Children's". At this stage it was accompanied by a very short sound effect.
The position of the 'Children's' Wording was soon changed so that the screen read "Children's BBC" in keeping with the correct on-air name. A short musical sting was introduced to accompany the animation.
The background colour of this symbol later changed to black, and for the summer morning schedule of 1986, yellow was adopted.
Occasional schedule changes such as the annual budget meant that Children's BBC transferred from BBC1 to BBC2 for the afternoon. This meant that Phillip would have to present from a different continuity suite,
which is why there is no set in the frame opposite. One of Phillip's running gags about BBC2 was that it was rather highbrow, hence the dinner jacket
A further change of location for Children's
BBC was occasioned by routine maintenance taking place. When this was happening, a spare Presentation Control Room and associated continuity suite were brought into use. This was known as "sub control" (aka Network Control Three, or NC3) and differed from the normal facilities used. It
was much smaller, was some distance down the corridor from the
associated Presentation Control Room, and the equipment within was rather antiquated. It was during a stint in "sub control" that Phillip coined the phrase "broom cupboard" in reference to the cramped conditions. The name stuck and the original reference to the reduced confines of a temporary location were forgotten.
During Phillip's time on Children's BBC there were various features in addition to the usual programme news, trails and
schedule information. These included Class of 86, for which viewers were invited to send in a photograph of their school class,
and Downtown, which comprised photographs of viewers and their friends, snapped in town. The Tony Hatch song of the same name, sung by Petula Clark, was played whilst the pictures were shown, and a rebirth of interest in the track (the whole idea inspired by the high chart position of Tom Jones' sixties' hit It's Not Unusual) led to a re-release.
Guests often joined Phillip in the Broom Cupboard to talk about their programmes, the camera angle being widened to fit them in shot. Many guests appeared in the Broom Cupboard over the years, including Tom Jones, Bruce Forsyth and most of the cast of Neighbours (though not all at the same time!)
Phillip's producer was known as "Sid". In reality, Sid was a number of different people, since the job of producing Children's BBC fell on a rota basis to staff Assistant Producers in the Presentation department. Sid was never wholly seen in vision, viewers only ever catching a shoulder or an arm on screen.
A new face came to Children's BBC on 1 April 1986, to allow Phillip to take a holiday and to present the 1986 series of Take Two. She was a one-time
contestant on Bruce Forsyth's Generation Game and her name was Debbie Flint.
Debbie hosted Children's BBC for eight weeks before Phillip returned. Her link features included Silly Snaps, where amusing photographs sent in by viewers were shown. Debbie also had a bizarre obsession with wigwams. She called her producer - also never seen in vision - "Aristotle".
For Summer 1986, the decision was taken to move Children's BBC to the mornings. The traditional BBC1 afternoon schedule was abandoned (though BBC2 ran dubbed drama Heidi and Hanna-Barbera's The Roman Holidays with standard out-of-vision, announcer-led presentation). The summer morning line up of programmes including repeats of Record Breakers, the acquired drama Silas, a summer version of Newsround presented from alongside the Radio 1 Roadshow, and the long running Play School.
A new presenter joined Children's BBC to link the morning schedule. His name was Andy Crane, a former DJ at Piccadilly Radio in Manchester. He spent almost four years with Children's BBC and in that time sported a variety of hairstyles, most of which can be seen on this website!
Of five weeks of summer mornings, Andy hosted the first three and Debbie Flint returned to complete the final two. This was to be Debbie's last stint on Children's BBC. Afterwards she joined the new daytime series Open Air as a reporter. Nowadays she's become something of a legend in the shopping TV world.
The transfer of schools programmes to BBC2 led to the introduction of a daytime schedule on BBC1 in late 1986 and this signified further expansion for Children's BBC. Phillip would pop up before and after Play
School to read out the cards of children celebrating birthdays. The birthdays were always presented from one of the two small Presentation studios, from a small set which included a giant cake.
Gordon The Gopher came to the Broom Cupboard at Christmas 1986, courtesy of Phillip's Auntie Diane. The squeaky
puppet soon became a firm favourite with viewers, and the bane of executives at BBC Enterprises, as Phillip shrewdly retained the
In later years Phillip was to become a West End star in Andrew Lloyd-Webber's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. These musical ambitions can perhaps be traced back to the Broom Cupboard, for he (and Gordon) first mimed the Ulysses 31 opening theme and on two occasions also sang along with closing theme to The Mysterious Cities Of Gold. He had previously copied out the song words by hand and sent photocopies to
all those who wrote in to request them.
It was the responsibility of the Children's BBC presenter to work microphones, cue sounds and select pictures, etc., using the mixer desk in the continuity suite. On one memorable occasion, oft since repeated on outtake shows, Phillip pressed the wrong button. He'd intended to
start an audio cartridge of the Champion The Wonder Horse theme but instead broadcast the BBC1 symbol, something he was strictly forbidden to do. Things went from bad to worse as Phillip became hopelessly confused, with all manner of items being mistakenly broadcast. Phillip feared the sack but Pat Hubbard - Head of Presentation - found it hilarious, dubbing it one of the worst breakdowns he'd ever seen. So Phillip kept his job and as a bonus, won a Golden Egg from
Noel Edmonds on the Late Late Breakfast Show in recognition.
Phillip's last day was a memorable
one. He'd announced some weeks previously that he would be leaving,
but in the first link of the final day he and Gordon were seen
making their way to the office of the then BBC1 controller, Michael
Grade. Phillip was sacked and Gordon invited to remake Gone With The Wind with Selina Scott!
The BBC switchboard was jammed with calls of protest, but the final link of the day,
presented from the "doughnut" at Television Centre, revealed the spoof
and that he and Gordon would in fact be staying and joining Sarah Greene that September, to host the new Saturday morning show, which
was called Going Live!
Phillip made a final appearance on Children's BBC in a film made at his flat, for But First This, which was the name given to the summer holiday morning version of Children's BBC for summer 1987. In this, presenter Siobhan Maher interviewed him. The film was memorable in that it included cameo appearances from Phillip's supposed cleaner, who was
also played by Siobhan, in something of a homage to Acorn
Antiques' Mrs Overall - complete with Birmingham accent and lumpy tights!
But First This had a separate team of presenters, studio and production office. Those who presented during summer 1987 were Andy Crane (by this time also covering the afternoons following Phillip's departure), singer and actress Siobhan Maher, actress Tracy Brabin who went on to appear in Coronation Street as Tricia Armstrong, Super Channel presenter Simon Potter and and even a very youthful Anthea Turner! Each did a week or two.
As part of But First This, the team produced a spoof version of
A-ha's pop video for the single Love Is Reason. Simon Potter, Andy Crane, Siobhan Maher and Anthea Turner all took part in the video, which was shown at the end of the run.
departure left a void in the Broom Cupboard and to re-establish Children's BBC without him, it was relaunched with a new look in September 1987. Andy Crane, complete with new hairstyle, became the new regular afternoon presenter.
Out went the computer
generated ident, replaced by an animated logo which was played in from videotape at the start of each afternoon. The ident cycled through the letters comprising the world "Children's", with
animating lines forming and re-forming appropriate objects behind each letter - car for "C", horse for "H", and so on. This idea reprised, in an early off-screen branding exercise, on specially-printed stationery used for all letters sent out by the production office.
A specially constructed yellow set was installed in the continuity booth for the first time. This was
yellow in colour with two-tone blue edging, and allowed for the display of many more viewer pictures than previously.
running gags continued to populate the link time. Andy was a
compulsive nail-biter, and his efforts to stave off the habit were
chronicled occasionally with the bringing out of the Nail
File, which contained suggestions sent in by viewers.
September 1987, Children's BBC expanded again into Sunday mornings
on BBC2, with a further schedule including an "omnibus" of the two
weekday editions of Blue Peter. Simon Potter returned to
present the links, titled Now On Two.
There was an
unexpected appearance for the Broom Cupboard on 16 October 1987
when, as the massive "great storm" had lashed the South East of
England, Television Centre was left without power in all areas
except Presentation, which was powered by a standby generator.
Newsreader Nicholas Witchell was rushed into the yellow Broom
Cupboard, hastily stripped of Children's BBC identity, to introduce
a skeleton news service! Extracts of this broadcast have been added to YouTube in recent months - click the picture opposite to see them.
A new presenter joined the fold to
look after the Christmas 1987 morning links, which originated in
Presentation Studio A, from a set comprising 2D Christmas trees on
casters! The presenter was Simon Parkin, a former DJ at Radio Tees
in Middlesbrough. As the owner of probably the only ginger mullet
ever to feature on British television, Simon's time at Children's
BBC spanned four years and saw him present almost every variant
during that time.
ever Comic Relief night was stagedin February 1988 and
Children's BBC viewers were charged with voting for the celebrity
they'd most like to see plunged into the horrific sounding "gunk
tank". The voting arrangements were very informal (viewers just had
to write in), and Andy gave regular updates on how the scores were
looking. He was very vocal in encouraging viewers to vote for
Grange Hill's Mr Bronson - only to find the erudite
disciplinarian standing menacingly beside him immediately after one
impassioned plea. Actor Michael Sheard stayed in character for the
whole link, with Andy playing the nervous schoolboy.
results were announced one afternoon in a taped insert, voiced by
Simon Potter in the style of a Top Of The Pops style chart
countdown. Beating off fierce competition from contemporaries such
as Mark Curry and Phillip Schofield, and even Mrs Thatcher, the
winner was none other than "the boy with the cast iron hair-do",
Andy himself, who was duly plunged into the gunk on the night in
question, by Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie.
The producer of
Children's BBC at this time was personnified by the very annoying
Caretaker - always unseen save for his trademark broom. Opposite you
can see Andy demonstrating the latest emergency measures supplied by
viewers in the Ban The Broom campaign - a hacksaw!
further "stars" from this period in Broom Cupboard history were
simply inanimate props - the Isetta car and the koala. Both had been
sent in by viewers. The Isetta (bubble car) was a plastic toy which
it seems proved very desirable to collectors, but had actually just
been sent to Children's BBC as an alternative to the dustbin. The
koala too found refuge in the Broom Cupboard and was soon joined by
many more sent in by viewers.
popular series running on Children's BBC at this time was BRB
Internacional's 26-episode Around The World With Willy Fog.
BRB, based in Madrid, had produced the hugely successful
Dogtanian series which the BBC had acquired and shown several
times previously on Children's BBC. Willy Fog was based on the novel
by Jules Verne and portrayed all the characters as animals. The
theme tune was rather catchy and was sung by Andy on more than one
occasion, who even trotted out the Spanish version one afternoon.
Accompanied by postally distributed songsheets, the interest peaked
with the mounting of National Willy Fog Day, on which Andy
again sang the opening title music, only this time he did so from
one of the Presentation studios, keyed afront of the titles and
dressed up in turn as all of the characters.
during programmes on Children's BBC were infrequent but when they
occurred were often entertaining. One episode of Willy Fog
suddenly lost picture part way through, before "falling off air"
completely, resulting in an unscheduled appearance by Andy Crane and
guest Steve Colman (presenter of quiz game Knock Knock) for
some hastily improvised filling.
In Spring 1988, the BBC1
and BBC2 Presentation Control Rooms were swapped. The new BBC1
continuity booth was much larger and consequently a new set was
built. This was light brown in colour, and featured new additions
such as a shelf, coat pegs and pipework to the rear!
1988, the morning schedule was re-introduced, again under the banner
heading But First This. Links were again presented from one
of the two Presentation studios at Television Centre, from a set
resembling a junkyard. This time four presenters worked on the
series concurrently. Joining Andy Crane were, once again, actress
and singer Siobhan Maher and two new faces - Colin Heywood and Sue
Devaney. Sue was an actress, perhaps best known to Children's BBC
viewers as "Our Rita" in Jonny Briggs. Not much is known
about Colin's background - though he did re-appear the following
year with a new name and ten years shaved off his age, as part of
short-lived pop act Yell. He was last seen - by Simon Parkin
- driving down the M4.
The morning schedules for Summer 1988
included The Pink Panther, Silas (again!) and Play
School. Various components of the regular daytime BBC1 schedule,
such as the hourly news bulletins and the bizarre anthology series
Five To Eleven, remained. These looked rather odd surrounded
by But First This presentation - with the presenters doing
their best to look sombre while linking into the news, often in
fancy dress. It was rather surreal.
Theme days again
populated this season of But First This - there was a day
themed around chocolate, one around noses (Siobhan taking offence,
because she was convinced everyone thought she had massive nostrils)
and so on. There was also a canine counterpart for the four
presenters, Woof The Dog, whose training was chronicled in various
inserts. And Siobhan created a comic fashion expert by the name of
Phidelma Gusset (with a silent "t"). Phidelma would pop up
periodically to relay her thoughts on the latest fashion trends -
the return of the ra-ra dress, for example!
This also "discovered" a band from the North East of England
called A Tribe Of Toffs. Their demo tape, sent to Children's
BBC, included a song called John Kettley (Is A Weatherman)
and this was featured on air, accompanied by a specially-shot video
made by the production team.
While Andy was busy working on
But First This, Simon Parkin returned to present the afternoon
links, around a summer schedule including Gentle Ben, BBC
Manchester's sport series Move It!, a We Are The
Champions special with Ron Pickering and the 1979 German drama
The Legend Of Tim Tyler, dubbed into English. Simon's
features included namesakes - for example the two Paul Daniels seen
here, more silly photos and his one-off, yet legendary, impression
of Mickey Mouse.
A further notable breakdown took place not
long after Simon began to present the afternoon links. He had been
joined in the Broom Cupboard by Andy Crane who, for the duration of
the closing link, talked about the upcoming series of But First
This (while wearing an assortment of "BFT" branded baseball
caps) and solicited contributions from viewers. As the presenters
said goodbye, the next schedule item - a trail - rewound on air and
the presenters were hastily restored to the screen, with Andy rather
taking charge of the situation - despite being in as a guest!
Greater emphasis was being placed on the use of trailers
throughout the television industry at this time. A notable exercise
in the run up to the launch of the 1988 season of But First
This was the suffixing of all trails with a further generic
mini-trail for But First This, using part of the opening
titles and theme music. This caused confusion on more than one
occasion, with Simon being put back on air too early before the
second part of trailer had finished!
caught off guard again one afternoon when, whilst on air for the
closing link of the day, the telephone rang. As is common practice
in broadcast studios, the telephone did not audibly ring, but Simon
was alerted to it by a flashing light situated alongside the camera.
Simon explained everything the following week and even gave viewers
a brief tour of the other side of the Broom Cupboard, including a
look at the flasher, and his monitor stack.
The Summer over,
in September 1988, Andy Crane returned to presenting the afternoons.
Over the next few months the Broom Cupboard grew more and more
cluttered, with no effort being made to tidy up the accumulated
junk. This gave a rather anarchic feel to the links, a feel that was
added to when, in late 1988, a noisy young duck made his home in the
Edd, a six-year old showbiz mallard with a
green mohican and ambitions to become a Blue Peter pet,
became a Broom Cupboard fixture for almost four years, forming
something of a double act with both Andy Crane and successive
presenter Andi Peters. Edd was huge - releasing his own record
(Awesome Dood), and even featuring in his own programmes. He
was actively merchandised by BBC Enterprises, appearing on mugs,
badges and even in a computer game, and was adopted by the British
Olympic team as their mascot for the 1990 Games.
Andy and Edd
were joined in December 1988 by another long-running character.
Wilson the Butler. As had become traditional for supporting human
characters, Wilson's face was never seen (though we did see the back
of his head during a spectacular fall during an outside broadcast
from Peterborough in 1991.) Wilson was a butler at Buckingham Palace
who arrived with The Queen (aka impressionist Jeanette Charles) to
switch on the Broom Cupboard Christmas lights! Edd offered him a
job, and he stayed until 1992. Edd and Wilson each disliked the
other - Edd called Wilson "stinky", while Wilson thought Edd was
"stupid" and often demonstrated his desire to "get the duck off!"
Wilson could often be seen slapping Edd about the head, and
attempted to do away with him many times!
The emergence of
Edd and Wilson as a comic double act was to lead to the eventual
disappearance of Bobby The Banana. Bobby had appeared in the Broom
Cupboard earlier in 1989 and despite being largely inanimate had
somehow captivated the audience, triggering a mailbag brimming with
all kinds of soft toy fruit and vegetables - Chris The Carrot, Olive
The Orange etc.
feature which appeared around this time, at the end of each
afternoon, was The Credits. This was simply a paper till-roll
with various credits written on in marker, which would be pulled
across the screen by Andy!
Construction works of some sort
appeared to be taking place in the Broom Cupboard towards the end of
1988 and on their completion, a new addition was revealed - a
window. This was simply a wooden frame into which viewers' pictures
(four sides of A4 stuck together would produce paper in the desired
size) could be put, thus creating a different view each week.
Edd was becoming particularly popular and was the subject of
an occasional series of taped inserts - Duck Dares. For each of
these, Edd took up a viewer-suggested challenge.
Summer morning links appeared again in 1989, under the
abbreviated title of BFT. Simon Parkin was
joined by two new presenters - 19-year old Andi Peters, who had
previously presented Freetime on Children's
ITV and actually joined Children's BBC for the half term holiday morning links a couple of months previously, and a former BBC production assistant called Stephanie Lowe,
who is now Mrs Phillip Schofield!
Links were presented from the inside of an orbiting satellite - really
another set in the small Presentation studio - and "The BFT Base
Station", which was an outside set on the roof.
In the summer of 1989, the BBC1 Presentation Control Room
was re-equipped for NICAM digital stereo and during this time,
Children's BBC decamped to "sub control", down the corridor, once
more. The new location was referred to on screen as "The Boiler
Room" - a fitting term giving the ageing equipment in use in there.
Unusually the camera angle used differed - the presenter sat not
behind the desk, but stood in front of the monitor stack.
complete, Children's BBC was back in the usual Broom Cupboard in
September 1989. A new ident was unveiled to accompany the new autumn
schedule. This was electronic, an Acorn Archimedes computer being
used to generate the animation live each day. The opening animation
was a five second form up of the Children's BBC logo, accompanied by
either a sting of the same length, or same followed by a musical bed
which was played underneath the opening link. Notably the ident was
also used, for the first time, at the end of each section of
Children's BBC, where it was played in reverse.
The move back
to the usual Broom Cupboard revealed a new set. Gone were the brown
walls, coat pegs and shelf, replaced by brickwork (or at least,
wallpaper printed to give a brickwork impression.) The old window
remained. Viewer's pictures were added to the Broom Cupboard walls
much more infrequently over the next few months.
Children's BBC Memorabilia Giveaway took place in September
1989. This was a write-in competition in which viewers had to
correctly guess the number of programmes featured in a "new season"
trail which had been run in the week or so preceeding the launch of
the new look. Those with the right answer were picked at random to
receive miscellaneous items which were no longer needed, such as
Edd's old jumpers, the old Children's BBC sign from the wall, and
Wilson's beloved picture of Mrs Mangel from
For Christmas, a morning schedule was
broadcast, presented by Andi Peters and Lisa Jones, a former Butlins
redcoat. These links came from the satellite set which had been used
over the Summer. And a short pantomime was also produced, broadcast
one afternoon. The highlight of this was Andi Peters dressed as a
fairy, complete with tutu!
There was a change in the
afternoon line-up from Christmas 1989. Andi Peters began to present
Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, reducing Andy Crane's appearances
to Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. This allowed Andy to accommodate
his occasional presenting of Top Of The Pops (recorded at
Elstree on Tuesdays), and the audience to get used to his eventual
successor - for only a few weeks later Andy announced, on Going
Live!, that he was leaving Children's BBC.
afternoon, Friday 20 April 1990, saw Wilson return from holiday and
the old threesome were reunited once more. As the programmes of the
afternoon (including quiz Eyespy with Christopher Rowe, and
Australian sitcom Round The Twist), played out, the Broom
Cupboard was slowly stripped of pictures. In the last link of the
day Andy was joined by Andi Peters, as well as Roger Finn and Terry
Baddoo from Newsround, who all came to say goodbye. Andy and
Edd reprised their low-budget till-roll credits, acknowledging many
of the stars of Children's BBC from the last two and a half years,
before Andy said goodbye - only to find out he'd been given a false
count and had airtime remaining. Children's BBC's two production
secretaries then appeared with a huge cake which Andy hid behind
after saying an emotional goodbye. Aww!
The following Monday
saw Andi Peters take over the afternoons full time. He was very much
on his own - for both Edd and Wilson were absent for the next few
A new set was soon unveiled, which was blue in colour
and featured an enlarged window in which more viewer's pictures
could be displayed.
An Australia Day augmented the
transmission of Round The Twist one Friday afternoon, with none
other than Kylie Minogue dropping in to share her thoughts with Andi
and a cork hat-wearing Edd.
Andi continued the tradition of
singing along to the theme songs of programmes, first with
Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles in June 1990. Other animated
series to get this treatment in later times were The
Chipmunks (more on this later) and the 13-part series, Bucky
Wilson eventually returned to the Broom Cupboard. Edd particularly
liked the theatrical release Dick Tracy, starring Warren
Beatty and Madonna, and regularly appeared in tribute, wearing a
yellow raincoat and hat, as Duck Tracy. In the movie,
Madonna's character was called Breathless Mahoney and so in The
Broom Cupboard, one of Edd's feathered friends appeared - as the
mute Quackless Baloney!
The phenomenon of corn - or crop -
circles was at its peak in the summer of 1990, with Newsround
reporting on various scientific experiments to prove or disprove
their origin. Coincidentally, the mysterious Quack Circles
started to appear in the Broom Cupboard one afternoon. These were
simply yellow paper circles with "quack" written on them - and they
appeared in greater number with each successive link. Andi
eventually realised that Edd was behind them - but not before they
had appeared on his face and even on the BBC1 symbol before
Summer 1990 saw the return of BFT
and the summer morning schedule. The setting this time was a
submarine, the interior set being builtin Presentation A,
complete with staircase and portholes, while the exterior set, on
the roof once more, depicted the top of the BFT sub. Simon Parkin
fronted this season of BFT along with two new recruits. They
were Philippa Forrester, a university student who stayed with
Children's BBC well beyond this initial tenure, and Claudia Simon.
The opening titles featured a paper maché submarine making its way
through an underwater world, to a theme tune specially composed by
Stock Aitken and Waterman!
BFT 1990 included a phone-in game
called Wizz Vid. At 9am, in the opening link, contestants
would be invited to call in to play. And following the first
programme, the animated epic Belle and Sebastian, a caller
would be picked to play the game. The idea was to identify a pop
video, which was distorted and obscured, with the contestant having
to do so within a time limit, ably assisted by clues from the
In addition to music show The O Zone,
which had a second run during BFT 1990, a second programme was
produced by the Children's BBC unit for the summer morning schedule.
This was TNT, presented by Andi Peters, the title reflecting
the transmission days of Tuesdays and Thursdays. It was a short
programme which looked at developments in the world of television,
film and showbusiness.
autumn season of afternoon programmes was heralded as New Progs
On The Box in a long-form trail cut to the New Kids On The
Block hit, The Right Stuff. In addition to clips of
programmes from the new schedule, the trailer included specially
shot scenes featuring Andi, Edd and Wilson. These included London's
Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus where the Children's BBC logo
appeared on one of the famous electronic advertising
Children's BBC TWO returned in autumn 1990 with a
further season introduced by Andi and Simon. Programmes once again
included an omnibus edition of the previous week's two editions of
Blue Peter and the acclaimed culture series, Boxpops.
In addition to features and guests populating the links, a phone-in
game, The 9.25 Express was played each Sunday. In this two
callers competed against each other for the chance to win prizes,
the eventual winner being shown a selection of prizes in quick
succession and having to shout "stop" on the one they
Inclement weather almost put paid to Children's BBC
TWO's planned outside broadcast from the Clothes Show Live
exhibition, at Birmingham's NEC, one Sunday morning towards the end
of 1990. Heavy snow had fallen, effectively cutting off the venue
from the outside world. But with assistance from the RAF, presenters
Andi Peters and Philippa Forrester made it to Birmingham and the
outside broadcast made it to air - but not before Simon Parkin had
been rushed into the BBC2 Broom Cupboard, bedecked with a random
selection of clothes, as a contingency.
At Christmas 1990,
the holiday morning schedule was again linked by Children's BBC, And
a second CBBC pantomine, titled Edd's Christmas Rap was
broadcast one afternoon. Amazingly this featured Andy Crane, brought
back after eight months, as the Ghost Of Christmas Past!
1990 saw a number of members of the Neighbours cast drop into
the Broom Cupboard - ostensibly to add to Edd's collection of
baubles - but usually to plug their UK pantomimes!
Forrester had stayed with Children's BBC and presented short bursts
of Children's BBC in the mornings as her studies permitted. She also
provided holiday cover for the afternoons, becoming the first female
presenter to do so since Debbie Flint.
Andi Peters had
settled in nicely to the job of linking the afternoons and his
chemistry with both Edd and Wilson was priceless, often making for
hugely entertaining links. Andi's on-air panics were even funnier,
usually during a technical mishap or breakdown.
include Andi not opening his microphones, and remaining mute for a
whole link (although in fairness, most Broom Cupboard presenters did
this at least once); Andi using the "wipe" effect on the vision
mixer to intentionally obscure his new haircut, but forgetting to
tell his technical crew in the gallery next door who went into
meltdown when they saw the on air effect; and Andi's absolute
hysterics - to the point of barely being able to speak - when the
planned use of visual effects in one link, which set up a vote on
whether he should continue to sing the theme from The
Chipmunks, went disastrously wrong.
In July 1991
a new set was installed in the Broom Cupboard. This was
predominantly yellow in colour, with purple and blue flashes. The
original intention was to augment the design with neon signage but
this took some while longer to arrive.
Summer 1991's morning
links were introduced by Simon Parkin, Philippa Forrester and a new
presenter, Esther McVey. BFT was used once more as a title,
with the links being presented from Presentation A/B, from a set
designed to look like a 1950s American diner. The rooftop at
Television Centre was also used occasionally.
featured 3D computer animated opening titles, and a character named
"Jet" by viewers during a write-in competition staged over the run.
As in 1990, a promotional t-shirt was produced as a competition
prize offered on various occasions. There was also a heat-sensitive
colour change mug!
The phone-in game for this season was
called Alphabet Attack. Like the Children's BBC opening and
closing animation, this was powered by an Acorn Archimedes computer.
Players would be given a subject, and would then be asked to name
something associated with said topic beginning with a letter
generated by the computer. The operator of the game had control over
letters selected, and on occasions when a phone line failed and a
caller played against a presenter instead, the latter would be given
hugely difficult letters - English town names beginning with X, for
Theme days again populated the morning links, with
the late August Bank Holiday being given over to a celebration of
the life and times of the Lime Grove studios in Shepherd's Bush,
which had just closed. All three presenters appeared in period dress
and the links were broadcast in black and white!
short films starring Edd and Wilson were also broadcast during BFT
1991. These were handily repackaged for Edd's first and only sell
through video which hit the shops before Christmas.
The Duck's Silent Movie, a short film produced by the Children's
BBC unit and starring Edd, Wilson, Andi, Simon and Philippa was also
broadcast on August Bank Holiday 1991.
animated ident appeared in September 1991. This was
computer-animated and was played in from recordable laserdisc, which
was the format then being used to play the BBC1 and BBC2 symbols.
The original version of the music used on the ident was not
particularly distinctive and was replaced by a much more upbeat
suite of music in April 1992. Some of the cuts of the new music
included spoken lyrics, including "Tell that aardvark it's a wrap!"
and "Essential viewing coming up". The new ident was augmented by
the unveiling of new neon signage in the Broom Cupboard and on the
set used for the morning birthdays links.
The autumn and
winter season of Sunday morning children's programmes on BBC2 was
given a new title, BFT2. Links were presented by Simon Parkin
and Philippa Forrester, joined occasionally by Andi Peters. The
diner set was re-used, following a small revamp. Simon Parkin left
Children's BBC after the final edition of BFT2, populated by
celebrity American lookalikes, in February 1992. Simon was to become
GMTV's main children's presenter at launch and now looks after the weather for ITV's Thames Valley regional service.
A new presenter joined Children's BBC in April
1992 - Toby Anstis. Toby was a former ballet dancer who joined
Philippa Forrester for the holiday morning links broadcast at Easter.
These had a new and rather long-winded title - Children's BBC But
First This. The two small Presentation studios were again used,
with the studio set featuring a city skyline and a dot matrix sign.
A new phone-in game appeared at Easter 1992 and remained a
fixture for quite some time afterwards. It was devised and coded by
BBC Special Projects and was called Maggot Moments. The star
of the game, Mervyn the Maggot, was guided around a maze by callers
shouting directions. The game ended when time ran out or when a
marauding crow caught up with Mervyn, and prizes were awarded
according to the number of apples munched during the
The first part of this history of the Broom Cupboard
ends at September 1992, as the autumn season kicked off with more
new series than ever before. In celebration a package of trailers,
were produced, featuring an animated Andi and Edd.