1 9 4 6 – 1 9 5 1 (UK)
The first children’s programme on British television was For The Children, which began on Sunday 7 June 1946.
Among the items offered under this umbrella title for school-age children were features on stamp collecting and other wholesome pursuits, classic stories and, from August 1946, music and fun with Muffin the Mule and his piano-playing escort, Annette Mills.
Muffin was originally just one of the puppets Annette (and her puppeteer Ann Hogarth) worked with, but he quickly outshone the likes of Crumpet the clown, Peregrine the Penguin, Sally the Sea Lion, Oswald the Ostrich and Louise the Lamb, to the point where he was given his own series.
Only Prudence (pictured at left) and Primrose Kitten came close to equalling his popularity, also appearing in their own series in the 1950s.
Other segments on For The Children included The Squirrel, the Hare and the Little Grey Rabbit (pictured below right), created by Alison Uttley with stories told by Ann Hogarth and Jan Bussell with their glove puppets.
Annette Mills had been a pianist, ballet dancer, cabaret artist and playwright. She introduced the Charleston to London in the 1920s and was a talented songwriter. One of her biggest hits was Hands, Knees and Boomps-a-Daisy.
During the Second World War, she spent time entertaining the forces all over the country. One evening, travelling through an air raid during the blackout, she crashed into a stranded lorry. Her injuries were grievous, and she was kept in hospital for three years.
She left the hospital on crutches, and few could have thought she would work again. But she started her challenge of fate and got herself into some radio discussion programmes before making the transition to television.
She died in 1955.