1 9 5 2 – 1 9 8 0 (UK)
667 x 25/50 minute episodes
Watch With Mother – a general title for a series of five individual programmes – was the first planned combination of entertainment and education on British television, specifically designed for very small children, and each day with its own flavour.
Along with BBC radio’s Listen with Mother, which began in 1950, Watch With Mother represented a shift in BBC policy to make programmes, both on radio and television, for this very young audience.
Picture Book was the first segment produced and it screened on Mondays (featuring Bizzy Lizzy and Sausage the dachshund). Andy Pandy followed on Tuesdays at 3:45 pm. Next up came The Flowerpot Men which ran in the same slot on Wednesdays.
A story about a hedgehog, a mouse and a rabbit called Rag, Tag & Bobtail screened in the Thursday slot and on Friday was The Woodentops. This was a wooden family (as the name would suggest) who scared me to death when I was a lad.
In the 1960s and 1970s, a new stream of programmes were invented for the series (Pogle’s Wood, Trumpton, Tales Of The Riverbank, The Herbs, and Mary, Mungo and Midge). Later still came Mr Benn and Bagpuss.
However, there was still significant emotional investment in the older programmes. For example, there was much concern in 1965 when viewers thought that Camberwick Green was to replace Andy Pandy and The Flowerpot Men.
Doreen Stephens, head of BBC Family programmes, reassured the audience stating that they would be shown, although less frequently until 1970.
When the BBC dropped Watch With Mother temporarily to show cricket, thousands of letters reached the Corporation from mothers complaining their children had been left in tears. The BBC had to promise it would not happen again.
Sadly all good things must come to an end, and Watch With Mother was eventually taken off-air and replaced by See-Saw in 1980.