Children’s TV exhibition opens at Derby Museum and Art Gallery

Morph (c) Aardman Animations Ltd 2015

Morph (c) Aardman Animations Ltd 2015 - Credit: aardman animations

As a new exhibition opens at Derby Museum and Art Gallery, Jonathan Wallis explores his childhood memories of television

Everyone has a favourite and no one agrees with each other – that’s my experience of the discussions about children’s television that I’ve had at work, in the pub or with newly-met travellers on the train! Children’s television has been on our screens since 1946 so potentially everyone is young enough to have a memory themselves of when they were children or of what their children watched. When Derby Museums had the chance to book an exhibition exploring the history of children’s television, how could we say no!

I remember leaving school and rushing home with my brother to watch Blue Peter on our old black and white set; we didn’t ‘go colour’ until the mid-1970s. Blue Peter remains as popular today as it was for us 40 years ago; John Noakes was always our favourite presenter, mainly because a lot of the things that he attempted went wrong! The famous catchphrases from the show are still used today, ‘Get down Shep’, ‘And here’s one I made earlier’ and ‘And now for something completely different!’ Much to my dismay, I never fulfilled my dream of becoming a Blue Peter Badge owner. The best I could do was a certificate to say that my work had been on a big display wall of paintings at the back of the studio! I’m thrilled that the actual model of Tracey Island that was made live on Blue Peter will be part of the Children’s Television exhibition at the museum. Getting to grips with the objects before they arrive, I discover that Tracey Island was not made until the 1990s so it really must have been a clip that I saw later, I’m sure that I wasn’t still watching Blue Peter in my mid-20s!

Along with my brother, I also adored Captain Pugwash, so much so that we went to see a theatre adaptation in Ipswich where I lived in the early 1980s. When I hear the music now, I can imagine I am sitting alongside my brother in front of that huge box with the small screen, with both of us sitting in the same chair (there is only room for one of us now!). One of the original drawings of Pugwash from the first 1960s animation can be seen in the exhibition.

So whether your favourite was the Clangers, Hector’s House, The Magic Roundabout or Rainbow this exhibition is guaranteed to bring back fond memories of rushing home from school to get the best spot in front of the television. There is plenty of memorabilia and lots of items to remind you of things you had almost forgotten, plenty to talk about and a chance to relive a little bit of your childhood. w

‘The Story of Children’s Television from 1946 to Today’ is a travelling exhibition created by the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Coventry, and supported by the BBC, ITV, Kaleidoscope, The University of Warwick Department of Film and TV Studies, Ragdoll Productions and the Children’s Media Foundation. The exhibition is at Derby Museum and Art Gallery from the 15th October until 29th January 2017. Check out for more information and details of the related events and activities.