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Children's viewing habits

Context

1974. A TV producer describes children's viewing habits.

The BBC began television programmes for children in 1946. They started around 5pm each day and a favourite programme from those early days was 'Muffin the Mule'.

Summer 1950 saw the introduction of programmes aimed at pre-school children, watching at home during the day.

The first programme in 1950 was 'Andy Pandy', followed about a year later by 'Bill and Ben, the Flowerpot Men'. In 1953 there was an increase in programming to three afternoons a week under the title 'Watch with Mother'.

In October 1958 'Blue Peter' was launched to bridge the age range between 5 and 12, which had not previously been catered for. The programme also filled the gap between late afternoon and early evening. Initially it was broadcast weekly for 15 minutes, which was later extended to 25 minutes twice (and sometimes 3 times) a week.

Today as many as four out of five 5-16 year-olds have television sets in their bedrooms and average TV viewing is 2-3 hours a day.

Transcript

Producer:

One of the things that's very interesting about children of all ages is how much even the 5-7 year olds are interested in quite serious and difficult programmes and how prepared they are to make an effort really to watch them on television.
We get a tremendous number of 5-7 year olds for instance watching John Craven's Newsround, which we had ourselves, when we started it, thought of perhaps appealing most to the 9s to 12s. The little ones are there, and if they like it, they'll stay with it, so that between the ages of 5 and 12, we get a very wide range of children watching, which makes it difficult for us to plan programmes, because if you're doing a rather emotional drama, which would appeal say to the 11 year old, you have to be aware that all the time there is the 5 year old little one watching as well.

Interviewer:

Do a lot of them stay up pretty late?

Producer:

Yes, they do, particularly at weekends. The younger ones really, I don't think, not so much after 9 o'clock, but at weekends there are a very large proportion of children of all ages still watching at half-past 10 or 11 at night.

Interviewer:

Have you broken down habits into class at all?

Producer:

Yes, it depends certainly on what the programmes are, but the ones that are popular seem to be popular with children right across the social scale, so that one can't say that a certain kind of programme has a middle class appeal and another one a working class appeal. If children like it, they tend to like it right across the board.

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