UNLIKE the slick shows of today, the children’s TV of decades past was made by crazed surrealists on micro-budgets. Which is why these shows still keep you awake at night:
No, not the guy from the Saw films. Something far more terrifying: Mr Noseybonk, with his white mask and giant, phallic nose, intended to be fun and wacky, universally understood as malevolent and evil. Amid the show’s nightmarish dreamscapes and a talking jigsaw piece was Janet Ellis, giving every male viewer their first taste of doomed, unrequited love.
In a supernatural rural dystopia, Worzel Gummidge was a scarecrow who kept interchangable heads in a barrel, possibly just his own but it was never confirmed. An Aunt Sally doll was his lifeless love interest. As portrayals of the countryside go, it made Deliverance look like Countryfile.
The Enchanted Castle
Or more accurately The F**king Terrifying Castle. Children trapped inside the belly of a stone dinosaur, Guy Fawkes-style dummies with blank, menacing, paper faces coming to life – such is the stuff of happy childhood memories.
The Adventure Game
Another puzzle show, this time with all the fun of a cryptic crossword combined with sudoku. No child could work out the value of the ‘drogna’ currency, and the many variations on the word ‘dragon’ introduced you to the abject tedium of anagrams. Featured celebrities played themselves entirely straight, causing lifelong trauma when Derek Griffiths was vaporised by the Vortex.
Many people assume they dreamt this. You did not. It featured grotesque uncanny valley puppets doing largely tedious things in a castle. With a few tweaks it could easily have been turned into a horror movie about evil marionettes.
These deeply racist caricatures of Northerners appeared to live in bombed-out Dresden. The fact that they were essentially a head on legs with no real torso was disturbing, as were their cold, dead eyes, like those of sharks.