What Was Up With Whybird? And Other Weird Things We’re Still Struggling With From Kids TV

From Chucklevision to Rosie and Jim, how did this stuff get on TV?


by Jess Commons |

Here’s a fun reminder for you, just in case you’d forgotten: for two weeks back in 1997, Teletubbies Say ‘Eh-Oh’ was number one in the UK singles charts. This was when people still bought singles, BTW, and 1.3 million of them bought this one. I was one of them. Of this I am not proud. But I was 10, so...

Back in the 90s there was none of your more conventional kids’ television shows like Rasta Mouse or Peppa Pig, instead, the TV shows * *of *our *youth were more akin to the sort of stuff your mate Dodgy Greg started babbling about when he took acid at Glastonbury that time. Here’s a few things that we still can’t work out:

Who was the old dude that steered Rosie and Jim’s boat?

For those of you wondering what on earth Rosie and Jim were doing carousing their way aimlessly up and down the waterways of Great Britain, can we remind you that the REAL star of the show was ‘John who steers the boat’.

John was an old Northern chap who was the brains behind the operation and who drew pictures of all of Rosie and Jim’s adventures and sold them as children’s books. Plot twist: Rosie and Jim weren’t real, they were John’s dolls and he lived on the canal boat alone. Puts a slightly different sheen on the whole thing, doesn’t it?

Why couldn’t the French lass out of Tots TV learn English?

For five whole years Tilly hung out with Tom and Tiny, never even managing to master the most basic components of the English language. That’s a lonely old existence for the poor girl. Poor effort from Tom and Tiny’s side too. A little ‘bonjour’ every now and again wouldn’t have gone amiss.

Fun fact: in the French broadcast of the show, Tom and Tiny spoke French while Tilly spoke English. Meta.

Why were the Bananas in Pyjamas such massive dicks?

Leave the teddy bears alone, guys. And put some proper clothes on. It’s 4PM.

What was in the water of the Playdays world?

Having a Northern busybody parrot called Whybird was one thing, but when you chuck her together with a moth-eaten cat called Poppy and a mute ragdoll who gets off on patchwork, you’ve got to question whether the Playdays Playbus was less ‘magical minibus heading to different fun lands’ and more ‘system of transport for Broadmoor’s outpatient programme’.

What beautiful genius took a chance on the Chuckle Brothers?

Barry and Paul had no business being TV presenters. Middle-aged, odd looking with mullets way past the time they were acceptable, they can’t exactly have been high on the list of things TV execs look for to sign up for epically long contracts with BBC.

Nevertheless, Chucklevision was created and nearly two decades of children are familiar with ‘To me, to you’.

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Follow Jess on Twitter @Jess_Commons

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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