Early children’s television programmes were full of spoken received English, (previously known as the King’s or Queen’s English) which the majority of folk did not speak. Thinking back, the Listen With Mother radio slot in the weekday afternoons was equally as plummy and posh. While children probably accepted there was a bunch of chatterers who did not speak not like them, their families and their friends, the important thing was, the programmes were theirs, they belonged to them. It introduced young minds and ears to listening to stories and mini serialisations. The plum speech didn’t matter, anyway, you didn’t copy their speech patterns, you just learned to understand it….like learning another language!
Television was a similar story, but I think changes in interaction and speech patterns altered marginally quicker than they did with the children’s radio programme slot. As we did not have a television in our house, I only saw children’s programmes very occasionally. There was, I remember, the odd stripey-dressed puppet Andy Pandy and The Flowerpot Men in monochrome, jumping around inside a small square bottle-bottomed window. I have no idea what he or they did.
When a parent, I watched the kiddies programmes with the kids: high pitched voiced Rosie and Jim on their brightly painted canal barge houseboat; a programme with Tony Robinson,(now of the archaeological digs T.V Time Team)who sat at a computer, then he would summoning the animation ‘Wordeee’ to demonstrate how to say, use and write the magic ‘e’ in a particular way, each week. I watched the whole series of Sesame Street, it was brilliant for teaching young eyes ears and minds all sorts of useful things, like sign recognition; snippets of various genres of music, titbits about nature and loads of activities. The little parable type stories, beautifully enacted by colourfully dressed animal characters guided by adults from many ethnic backgrounds, introduced children to the real multi-cultural world.