Children's television series are television programs designed for and marketed to children, normally scheduled for broadcast during the morning and afternoon when children are awake. They can sometimes run during the early evening, allowing younger children to watch them after school. The purpose of the shows is mainly to entertain and sometimes to educate.
Children's television is nearly as old as television itself.The BBC's Children's Hour, broadcast in the UK in 1946, is generally credited with being the first TV programme specifically for children.
Television for children tended to originate from similar programs on radio; the BBC's Children's Hour was launched in 1922, and BBC School Radio began broadcasting in 1924. In the US in the early 1930s, adventure serials such as Little Orphan Annie began to emerge, becoming a staple of children's afternoon radio listening.
Early children's shows included Kukla, Fran and Ollie (1947), Howdy Doody, and Captain Kangaroo. Many of the earliest Westerns were targeted at a children's audience, stemming back to when children's radio serials often were set in a Western setting. Ding Dong School, which aired from 1952 to 1965, was one of the first attempts to produce educational programming for very young children; its creator and host, Frances Horwich, would sit in front of the camera and simulate small talk with the viewing audience at home, demonstrating basic skills for the camera. Later shows for very young children include Sesame Street, The Electric Company, and Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.
In the United States, early children's television was often a marketing branch of a larger corporate product, such as Disney, and it rarely contained any educational elements (for instance, The Magic Clown, a popular early children's program, was primarily an advertisement for Bonomo's Turkish taffy product).
This practice continued, albeit in a much toned-down manner, through the 1980s in the United States, when the Federal Communications Commission prohibited tie-in advertising on broadcast television. These regulations do not apply to cable, which is out of the reach of the FCC's content regulations.
Later non-educational children's television programs included the science fiction programmes of Irwin Allen (most notably Lost in Space), the fantasy series of Sid and Marty Krofft, the extensive cartoon empire of Hanna-Barbera and the numerous sitcoms that aired as part of TGIF in the 1990s, many of these programs fit a broader description of family-friendly television, targeting a broad demographic that includes adults without excluding children.
In the United States, Saturday mornings were generally scheduled with cartoon from the 1960s to 1980s as viewership with that programming would pull in 20 million watchers which dropped to 2 million in 2003. In 1992, teen comedies and a "Today" show weekend edition were first to displace the cartoon blocks on NBC. Starting in September 2002, the networks turned to their affiliated cable cartoon channels or outside programmers for their blocks. The other two Big Three television networks soon did the same. Infomercials replaced the cartoon on Fox in 2008.
The Saturday cartoons were less of a draw due to the various cable cartoon channels (Nickelodeon and the Cartoon Network, etc.) being available all week starting in the 1990s. With recordable options becoming more prevalent in the 1990s with Videocassette recorder then its 21st century replacements of DVDs, DVRs and streaming services. FCC rule changes in the 1990s regarding the E/I programming and limitation on kid-focus advertising made the cartoons less profitable. Another possible contributor is the rising divorce rate and the following children's visitation pushed more "quality time" with the kids instead of TV watching.
Children's television series can target a wide variety of key demographics; the programming used to target these demographics varies by age and gender. Few television networks target infants and toddlers under two years of age, in part due to widespread opposition to the practice. Children's programming can be targeted toward persons 2 to 11 years of age; in practice, this is further divided into the preschool demographic (2 to 6 years old) and the older children or preteen/tween demographic (6 to 11 years old).
Preschool-oriented programming is generally more overtly educational. In a number of cases, such shows are produced in consultation with educators and child psychologists in an effort to teach age-appropriate lessons (the series Sesame Street pioneered this approach when it debuted in 1969). Adaptations of illustrated children's book series are one subgenre of shows targeted at younger children. A format that has increased in popularity since the 1990s (see, for example, Blue's Clues, Dora the Explorer and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse) is the "pseudo-interactive" program, in which the action of the show stops and breaks the fourth wall to give a young viewer the opportunity to answer a question or dilemma put forth on the show, with the action continuing as if the viewer answered correctly.
Shows that target the demographic of persons 6 to 11 years old focus primarily on entertainment and can range from comedic cartoons (with an emphasis on slapstick) to action series. Most children's television series targeting this age range are animated (with a few exceptions, perhaps the best-known being the long-running Power Rangers franchise), and many often specifically target boys (especially in the case of action series), girls or sometimes both. Efforts to create educational programming for this demographic have had a mixed record of success; although such series made up the bulk of educational programming on broadcast television in the first decade of the 2000s, they also tend to have very low viewership. PBS had somewhat greater success with its now defunct educational programming block, PBS Kids GO!, that targets this demographic.
The teen demographic targets viewers 11 to 17 years of age. Live-action series that target this demographic are more dramatic and developed, including teen dramas and teen sitcoms. In some cases, they may contain more mature content that is usually not permissible on shows targeting younger viewers, and can include some profanity or suggestive dialogue. Animated programming is not generally targeted at this demographic; cartoons that are aimed at teenagers generally feature more crude humor than those oriented toward younger children. Educational programming targeted at this demographic has historically been rare, other than on NASA TV's education block; this has somewhat changed with Litton Entertainment's entry into educational television in the early 2010s, as Litton's programs exploited a loophole in U.S. regulations that allows teen-oriented programs to be counted as educational but not be subject to restrictions on advertising for children's programs. However, some programming aimed at the demographic has had some tangenital educational value in regards to social issues, such as the now-defunct T-NBC block of sitcoms, which often tackled issues such as underage drinking or drug use.
A growing issues is the occurrence of gendered stereotypes within children's television. Certain demographics are assigned to different shows. Mainly, there are "boy" shows and "girl" shows that shows will try to aim their content towards. These shows will have mainly male characters as leads because statistics show that girls are more likely to watch boy shows than boys are to watch girl shows. As far as viewership is concerned, this means producers will make more from airing shows with leads that are male, so they have stuck with that formula, despite the changing times.
In a study titled "Four-Year-Olds’ Beliefs About How Others Regard Males and Females," researcher May Ling Halim observed how television viewing and interactions of parents within a household may affect a child's perception on gender. She had about 250 four-year-olds interviewed and she asked them questions about their parents, the opposite gender, how much TV they watched and about their feelings on their own gender. The study used four-year-olds because at age four, children are able to make distinctions concerning gender and concerning how two people may view the same thing in different ways. The results of the study showed that for the most part, children were shielded from society's gender hierarchy. Each seemed to favor their own gender which is typical of little kids. Household hierarchy as well as exposure to TV increased children's awareness of the gender hierarchies that are present in the adult world. Halim also observed how society's higher valuing of males could affect how children approach pathways to academics and occupations later in their lives.
Whether the shows are from Nickelodeon or from the Disney Channel, there are many instances where boys and girls are cast in typical roles that are recognized widely by society and a large percentage of the world. While there are many studies that have been done exploring the topic of children's perceptions of gender through television, there are few pieces of concrete evidence that tell people that what children are watching is actually harmful to them.
Children's television is created for many markets, with notable successes like Play School, Noggin the Nog, and Thunderbirds originating from the UK, Belle and Sebastian and The Magic Roundabout from France, The Singing Ringing Tree from Germany, and Marine Boy from Japan.
In the U.S., there are three major commercial cable networks dedicated to children's television. All three also operate secondary services with specialized scopes drawing upon their respective libraries, such as a focus on specific demographics, or a focus upon classic programming that fall within their scope and demographics.
Under current mandates, all broadcast television stations in the United States, including digital subchannels, must show a minimum of three hours per week of educational children's programming, regardless of format. As a result, digital multicast networks whose formats should not fit children's programming, such as Live Well Network and TheCoolTV, are required to carry educational programs to fit the FCC mandates. In 2017, there was a programming block that aired on syndication called KidsClick; it was notable as a concerted effort to program children's shows on television without regard to their educational content, one of the first such efforts since the E/I rule took effect. The transition to digital television has allowed for the debut of whole digital subchannels that air children's programming 24/7; examples include Universal Kids, Qubo, Discovery Family and Smile. PBS, the United States' main public television network, devotes over eight hours of its weekday schedule, and several hours of its weekend schedule, to educational children's programs, and the country's only directly nationally operated TV service for public consumption, NASA TV, also includes educational programs in its schedule for use in schools.
English-language children's specialty channels in Canada are primarily owned by Corus Entertainment and DHX Media. Corus operates YTV, Treehouse, and Teletoon, as well as localized versions of the Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, and Nickelodeon brands. DHX operates Family Channel, as well as the spin-off services Chrgd and Family Jr. BBC Kids is the only English-language children's television channel in Canada that is not owned by Corus or DHX; since 2011, it has been majority owned and operated by British Columbia's public broadcaster Knowledge Network.
In French, Corus operates Télétoon and La chaîne Disney, DHX operates Télémagino (a French version of Family Jr.), TVA Group operates the preschool-oriented Yoopa, and Bell Media runs the teen-oriented Vrak. Via its majority-owned subsidiary Telelatino, Corus also operates two children and family-oriented networks in Spanish and Italian, TeleNiños and Telebimbi respectively.
On broadcast television and satellite to cable undertakings, children's television content is relegated to the country's public and designated provincial educational broadcasters, including CBC Television and Ici Radio-Canada Télé, as well as City Saskatchewan, CTV Two Alberta (formerly Access), Knowledge Network, Télé-Québec, TFO, and TVOntario (TVOKids.
Aided by the cultural similarities between Canada and the United States, along with film credits and subsidies available from the Canadian government, a large number of animated children's series have been made in Canada with the intention of exporting them to the United States. Such programs carry a prominent Government of Canada wordmark in their closing credits.
The BBC and ITV plc both operate children's oriented television networks on digital terrestrial television: the BBC runs CBBC as well as the preschool-oriented CBeebies, while ITV runs CITV. Both channels were spun off from children's television strands on their respective flagship channels (BBC One, BBC Two, and ITV). BBC and ITV have largely phased out children's programming from their main channels in order to focus on the dedicated services; in 2012, as part of the "Delivering Quality First" initiative, the BBC announced that it would end the broadcast of CBBC programmes on BBC One following the completion of the transition to digital terrestrial television, citing low viewership in comparison to broadcasts of the programmes on the CBBC channel. Channel 5 also broadcasts a preschool-oriented block known as Milkshake!, while its owner, Viacom International Media Networks Europe, also runs versions of Nickelodeon and its sister networks Nicktoons and Nick Jr.
Sony Pictures Television-owned Pop, which formerly operated as a pay television channel, launched on Freeview on 20 March 2014. It was joined by preschool spin-off Tiny Pop on 7 January 2015. There was also a TV channel owned by CSC Media Group called Pop Max. British versions of Cartoon Network and its sister networks Boomerang and Cartoonito, as well as Disney Channel and its spin-offs Disney XD and Disney Junior also operate.
Ireland has one dedicated children's TV service RTÉjr. Since 1998 RTÉ2 has provided children's programming from 07:00 to 17:30 each weekday, original titled The Den, the service was renamed TRTÉ and RTÉjr in 2010. Irish Language service TG4 provide two strands of Children's programming Cúla 4 Na nÓg and Cúla 4 during the day. Commercial broadcaster TV3 broadcast a children's strand called Gimme 3 from 1998 - 1999. And Broadcast a new strand called 3Kids
Children's channels that exist in Australia are ABC Me, ABC Kids, KidsCo, Disney Channel and its spin-off Disney Junior, CBeebies, Nickelodeon and its spin-off Nick Jr., and Cartoon Network and its spin-off Boomerang.
Children's channels that exist in Japan are NHK Educational TV, Kids Station, Disney XD, Nickelodeon (now under a block on Animax, known as "Nick Time") and Cartoon Network (Cartoon Network's age demographic is moving towards older viewers with shows such as Regular Show and Adventure Time).
One of the most well-known children's TV programs comes from Iceland, LazyTown, was created by Magnus Scheving, European Gymnastics Champion and CEO of LazyTown Entertainment. The show has aired in over 180 countries, been dubbed into more than 32 languages and is the most expensive children's show of all time.
Cartoon Network was the first channel for children launched in India in 1995. Subsequently Disney and Nickelodeon Channel arrived. Hungama TV (2004) was first channel for kids that had local content. Pogo and BabyTv came later by 2006. By 2018, 23 channels were aired in India.
Bob the Builder is a British children's animated television show created by Keith Chapman. In the original series, Bob appears in a stop motion animated programme as a building contractor, specialising in masonry, along with his colleague Wendy, various neighbours and friends, and their gang of anthropomorphised work-vehicles and equipment. The show is broadcast in many countries, but originates from the United Kingdom where Bob is voiced by English actor Neil Morrissey. The show was later created using CGI animation starting with the spin-off series Ready, Steady, Build!.
In each episode, Bob and his group help with renovations, construction, and repairs and with other projects as needed. The show emphasises conflict resolution, co-operation, socialisation and various learning skills. Bob's catchphrase is "Can we fix it?", to which the other characters respond with "Yes we can!" This phrase is also the title of the show's theme song, which was a million-selling number one hit in the UK.
In October 2014, Bob the Builder was revamped by Mattel for a new series to be aired on Channel 5's Milkshake! in 2015. Amongst the changes were a complete overhaul of the cast, with Harry Potter actor Lee Ingleby replacing Neil Morrissey as the voice of Bob, and Joanne Froggatt and Blake Harrison were also confirmed as the voices of Wendy and Scoop respectively. The setting and appearance of the characters also changed, with Bob and his team moving to the bustling metropolis of Spring City. An American localisation of the new series debuted on PBS Kids in November 2015. The changes have been criticized by fans of the original version.CBBC
CBBC (short for Children's BBC) is a British children's television brand owned by the BBC and aimed for children aged from 6 to 15. BBC programming aimed at under six-year-old children is broadcast on the CBeebies channel. CBBC broadcasts from 7 am to 9 pm on CBBC Channel.
The CBBC brand was used for the broadcast of children's programmes on BBC One on weekday afternoons and on BBC Two mornings until these strands were phased out in 2012 and 2013 respectively, as part of the BBC's "Delivering Quality First" cost-cutting initiative.. CBBC programmes were also broadcast in high definition alongside other BBC content on BBC HD, generally at afternoons on weekends, unless the channel was covering other events. This ended when BBC HD closed on 26 March 2013, but CBBC HD launched on 10 December 2013. CBBC programming returned to BBC Two on Saturday mornings in September 2017 when Saturday Mash-Up! launched, however this strand continues to use the regular BBC continuity announcers and not the CBBC presenters. BBC-produced children's programming, in native languages of Scotland and Wales, also airs on BBC Alba and S4C respectively.CBC Kids
CBC Kids is a Canadian children's block on CBC Television.Captain Kangaroo
Captain Kangaroo is an American children's television series that aired weekday mornings on the American television network CBS from October 3, 1955, until December 8, 1984, making it the longest-running nationally broadcast children's television program of its day. In 1986, the American Program Service (now American Public Television, Boston) integrated some newly produced segments into reruns of past episodes, distributing the newer version of the series on PBS until 1993.
The show was conceived and the title character was played by Bob Keeshan, who based the show on "the warm relationship between grandparents and children". Keeshan had portrayed the original Clarabell the Clown on The Howdy Doody Show when it aired on NBC. Captain Kangaroo had a loose structure, built around life in the "Treasure House" (later known as "The Captain's Place") where the Captain (the name "kangaroo" came from the big pockets in his coat) would tell stories, meet guests, and indulge in silly stunts with regular characters, both humans and puppets. Keeshan performed as the Captain more than 9,000 times over the nearly 30-year run of the show.The May 17, 1971, episode had two major changes on the show: The Treasure House was renovated and renamed "The Captain's Place" and the Captain replaced his navy blue coat with a red coat. In September 1981, CBS shortened the hour-long show to a half-hour, briefly retitled it Wake Up with the Captain, and moved it to an earlier time slot; it was moved to weekends in September 1982, and returned to an hour-long format. Captain Kangaroo was cancelled by CBS at the end of 1984.Captain Pugwash
Captain Pugwash is a fictional pirate in a series of British children's comic strips and books created by John Ryan. The character's adventures were adapted into a TV series, using cardboard cut-outs filmed in live-action (the first series was performed and broadcast live), also called Captain Pugwash, first shown on the BBC in 1957, a later colour series, first shown in 1974–75, and a traditional animation series, The Adventures of Captain Pugwash, first aired in 1998.The eponymous hero – Captain Horatio Pugwash – sails the high seas in his ship called the Black Pig, ably assisted by cabin boy Tom, pirates Willy and Barnabas, and Master Mate. His mortal enemy is Cut-Throat Jake, captain of the Flying Dustman.ChuckleVision
ChuckleVision is a British television series created by Martin Hughes and the Chuckle Brothers for the BBC. It starred Barry and Paul Elliott as the Chuckle Brothers and occasionally their older brothers, Jimmy and Brian Elliott (known professionally as the Patton Brothers). It ran for 292 episodes over twenty-one series from 1987 to 2009.Fireman Sam
Fireman Sam is a British animated comedy children's series about a fireman called Sam, his fellow firefighters, and other residents in the fictional Welsh rural village of Pontypandy (a portmanteau of two real towns, Pontypridd and Tonypandy, which are situated approximately 5 miles (8 km) apart in the South Wales Valleys). The original idea for the show came from two ex-firemen from London, England, who took their idea to artist and writer Rob Lee who developed the concept, and the show was commissioned.
Fireman Sam first appeared as Sam Tân (Fireman Sam in Welsh) as a Welsh language series on S4C in 1987, and later that year on BBC1. The original series finished in 1994, and a new series that expanded the character cast commenced in 2003. The series was also shown in Gaelic in Scotland. The series was sold to over 40 countries and has been used across the UK to promote fire safety.Grange Hill
Grange Hill is a British television children's drama series originally made by the BBC and portraying life in a typical secondary school.
The show began its run on 8 February 1978 on BBC1, and was one of the longest-running programmes on British television when it ended its run on 15 September 2008. It was created by Phil Redmond who is also responsible for the Channel 4 dramas Brookside and Hollyoaks; other notable production team members down the years have included producer Colin Cant and script editor Anthony Minghella.
After 30 years, the show was cancelled in 2008 as it was felt by the BBC that the series had run its course.His Dark Materials (TV series)
Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials (shortened as His Dark Materials) is an upcoming British fantasy adventure series based on the novel series of the same name by Philip Pullman. It is being produced by New Line Cinema and Jane Tranter and Julie Gardner of Bad Wolf for BBC One and HBO, with the latter handling international distribution. Before airing, the show was renewed for a second series of eight episodes.On 27 July 2018, the BBC and Bad Wolf revealed the cast and crew for the series.On May 17, 2019, it was announced that the series will premiere in late 2019 in the United States.Jackanory
Jackanory is a BBC children's television series which was originally broadcast between 1965 to 1996. It was designed to stimulate an interest in reading. The show was first transmitted on 13 December 1965, and the first story was the fairy-tale "Cap-o'-Rushes" read by Lee Montague. Jackanory continued to be broadcast until 1996, with around 3,500 episodes in its 30-year run. The final story, The House at Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne, was read by Alan Bennett and broadcast on 24 March 1996. The show was briefly revived on 27 November 2006 for two one-off stories, and the format was revived as Jackanory Junior on CBeebies between 2007 and 2009.
The show's format, which varied little over the decades, involved an actor reading from children's novels or folk tales, usually while seated in an armchair. From time to time the scene being read would be illustrated by a specially commissioned still drawing, often by Quentin Blake. Usually a single book would occupy five daily fifteen-minute episodes, from Monday to Friday.
A spin-off series was Jackanory Playhouse (1972–85), which was a series of thirty-minute dramatisations. These included a dramatisation by Philip Glassborow of the comical A. A. Milne story "The Princess Who Couldn't Laugh".Newsround
Newsround (stylized as newsround, originally called John Craven's Newsround before his departure in 1989) is a BBC children's news programme, which has run continuously since 4 April 1972. It was one of the world's first television news magazines aimed specifically at children. Initially commissioned as a short series by BBC Children's Department, who held editorial control, its facilities were provided by BBC News. The programme is aimed at 6 to 10 year olds.Peppa Pig
Peppa Pig is a British preschool animated television series directed and produced by Astley Baker Davies in association with Entertainment One. The show revolves around Peppa, an anthropomorphic female pig, and her family and friends. The show originally aired on 31 May 2004 and there have been five seasons as of 2018. A sixth season began airing on 5 February 2019 in the UK. The series is shown in 180 territories including the US and UK.Postman Pat
Postman Pat is a British stop-motion animated children's television series first produced by Woodland Animations.
It is aimed at preschool-age children, and concerns the adventures of Pat Clifton, a postman in the fictional village of Greendale (inspired by the real valley of Longsleddale near Kendal).Postman Pat's first 13-episode series was screened on BBC1 in 1981. John Cunliffe wrote the original treatment and scripts, and it was directed by animator Ivor Wood, who also worked on The Magic Roundabout, The Wombles, Paddington Bear, and The Herbs. Following the success of the first series, four TV specials and a second series of 13 episodes were produced during the 1990s. Here, Pat had a family for the first time. A new version of the series was produced by Cosgrove Hall Films from 2003, which expanded on many aspects of the original series.Romper Room
Romper Room is an American children's television series that was franchised and syndicated from 1953 to 1994. The program targeted preschoolers (children five years of age or younger), and was created and produced by Bert Claster and his presenter wife, Nancy, of Claster Television. The national version was presented by Nancy Terrell. Romper Room was also franchised internationally at various times in Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan, Finland, New Zealand and Australia.Scooby-Doo and Guess Who?
Scooby-Doo and Guess Who? is an upcoming American animated television series and the thirteenth animated series in the Scooby-Doo franchise by Hanna-Barbera, and produced by Warner Bros. Animation. The series is produced by Chris Bailey.
The show is scheduled to premiere on the Boomerang streaming service and app in 2019.Teletubbies
Teletubbies is a British pre-school children's television series created by Ragdoll Productions' Anne Wood and Andrew Davenport. The programme focuses on four multi-coloured creatures known as "Teletubbies", named after the television screens implanted in their abdomens. Recognised throughout popular culture for the uniquely shaped antenna protruding from the head of each character, the Teletubbies communicate through gibberish and were designed to bear resemblance to toddlers.Particularly notable for its high production values, the series rapidly became a commercial success in Britain and abroad. It won multiple BAFTA awards and was nominated for two Daytime Emmys throughout its run. A single based on the show's theme song reached number 1 in the UK Singles Chart in December 1997 and remained in the Top 75 for 32 weeks, selling over a million copies. By October 2000, the franchise generated over £1 billion ($1.61 billion) in merchandise sales.Though the original run ended in 2001, sixty new episodes were ordered in 2014. They are currently aired on CBeebies in the United Kingdom and on Nick Jr. in the United States. Re-runs of the original 1997–2001 series continue to be shown on relevant television channels worldwide.The Bozo Show
The Bozo Show was a locally produced children's television program that aired on WGN-TV in Chicago and nationally on what is now WGN America. It was based on the children's record book series, Bozo the Clown by Capitol Records. The series is a local version of the internationally franchised Bozo the Clown format and is also the longest-running in the franchise. Recognized as the most popular and successful locally produced children's program in the history of television, it only aired under this title for 14 of its 40+ years: other titles were Bozo, Bozo's Circus, and The Bozo Super Sunday Show.