Until you have a baby, the names Justin, Iggle Piggle and Holly won’t hold much significance, but as your little one gets older, you’ll soon appreciate how a well-timed episode of Octonauts can help you get through the day. Gen up with our guide to kiddie TV for the latest generation of toddlers…
Under-sea adventurers, the Octonauts, are led by a bear called Captain Barnacles. Each episode sees Captain Barnacles and his crew leave their base – the Octopod – to help save marine life and explore the underwater world. With their strong environmental message and catchphrase ‘Explore! Rescue! Protect!’, the show is like Star Trek crossed with Greenpeace. Kind of…
Nina And The Neurons
Ideal for helping you answer your pre-schooler’s ‘But whyyyyy?’ questions, Nina And The Neurons sees super scientist Nina and her five animated sense Neurons travel the world looking at how the world works. Each episode features a question from a young child – for example, why can you only see stars at night – and she then tries to answer it. And with Nina single-handedly bringing hair bunches back into fashion, what’s not to love?
With the voices of a whole host of famous actors and TV presenters (including Jane Horrocks, Brian Blessed and Julian Clary), Little Princess is about a feisty four year old who is not afraid to say what she wants. A lot. In fact, with most of the episodes called ‘I want…’ we can only hope there’s also a “please” at the end of it. With any luck, her stubbornness won’t rub off on your toddler…
Milkshake (Channel 5)
In The Night Garden
A classic pre-bedtime show, In The Night Garden surely has to win the award for the weirdest character names going: Iggle Piggle, Upsy Daisy and Makka Pakka. The programme is designed to help calm your toddler down before he goes to bed and always ends with all of the characters going to sleep. Whether this works for your toddler is another matter.
Mr Bloom’s Nursery
The green-fingered Mr Bloom travels to locations all over the country to encourage children to explore and take pride in their local surroundings, and help teach them about growing plants and vegetables. Ably assisted by his “Tiddlers”, children who come onto the show, and a group of anthropomorphic vegetables, including Colin the Runner Bean, Joan the Fennel and Raymond the Butternut Squash, it’s turned Mr Bloom (Ben Faulks) into an unlikely sex symbol.
The porcine Princess of children’s television (not including Miss Piggy, obvs) Peppa Pig knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to tell people. Cheeky attitude aside, Peppa is often joined in her adventures by her little brother George and other animal friends including Rebecca Rabbit, Suzy Sheep and teacher Madame Gazelle. Mummy Pig is the voice of reason of the show and Daddy Pig is made up of every father stereotype going – just don’t get Giles Coren started on him.
Milkshake (Channel 5)
Combining fun games, learning and plenty of laughs, this show is popular with all kids. This is largely down to the ‘Clown Prince’ of children’s TV – Justin Fletcher AKA Mr Tumble. In Something Special, both Justin and Mr Tumble meet different children – most of whom have some kind of learning or physical disability – with the ethos being that all children are special. Like Superman and Clark Kent – Justin and Mr Tumble never appear in the same room together, but thanks to a magical spotty bag, they can send messages and communicate. A word of advice: don’t fall into the trap of thinking the show is called Mr Tumble. It’s not.
Tree Fu Tom
This follows a boy called Tom, who runs to the bottom of the garden and using the power of movement magic – known as Tree Fu – transforms into a tiny super hero who lives in Treetopolis. The show was created in partnership with The Dyspraxia Foundation and all the spell movements (which involve lots of arm swiping and jumping and Tom asks you to join in with) have been developed from those used to help children with movement disorders such as dyspraxia. Tom teams up with magical friends, Twigs, Zigzoo and Ariela to stop the naughty Mushas (bungling fungi) from causing havoc.
Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom
Set in a magical world of elves, fairies and insects, this show follows the lives of Ben, an elf and his best friend Princess Holly, who’s a fairy. At the start of every episode a map is shown and a Wise Old Elf will say ‘Today's adventure starts at the…’ The simple animation makes this a very popular show for young children. Recognise the distinctive voice of Nanny Plum? Actress Sarah-Ann Kennedy also provides the voice of Peppa Pig’s super-busy Miss Rabbit. Your mum friends will thank you for clearing that one up…
Who doesn’t want to live in Balamory (especially if it’s in a pink castle)? Filmed on the real island of Balamory in Scotland, the show follows the exploits of the island’s residents, including Miss Hoolie the teacher, Archie the Inventor and PC Plum. If we could bottle even a tiny bit of Miss Hoolie’s positivity and shiny bob, we’d be bouncing off the walls. We’re just waiting to find out if PC Plum is ever going to make a move on her…
Rocking the jazziest, pointiest quiff on the whole of children’s television, Mister Maker (played by Phil Gallagher) is designed to boost creativity in kids. Think Art Attack for the younger generation. He uses everyday objects to provide inspiration for his next art project, often making items in under a minute.
Mike The Knight
Young knight-in-training, Mike, loves nothing more than heading out on his trusty steed, Galahad to find adventures. His close friends Sparkie and Squirt – a pair of dragons and his sister Evie, a wizard in training, also come along to help. His rallying cry is ‘Be a knight, do it right’ and although he doesn’t always manage this first time around, he soon works out how to do things the right way. Phew.
Grandpa In My Pocket
Affectionately known as err, GIMP, to those in the know, Grandpa In My Pocket follows the adventures of a Grandpa (played by James Bolam) who has a magical cap, which shrinks him when he puts it on. It means he can fit in his grandchildren’s pocket and usually involves him getting into various scrapes that he has to be rescued from. He also has a magical toy plane that he can fly when he’s shrunk. We’re not jealous…
Woolly & Tig
Arachnophobics, look away now. This show follows a little girl called Tig and her daily adventures with her toy spider, Woolly. The storylines often cover the types of experiences that very young children have – such as a visit to the doctor, hairdresser or a first day at nursery. Woolly magically comes to life in each episode and offers advice and guidance to help Tig get through these new situations.
Based on the popular children’s books, Jamaican Rasta rodent, Rastamouse, is probably the coolest kids TV character around. When he’s not skateboarding or strumming his guitar along with his friends Scratchy and Zoomer, he’s ‘makin’ a bad ting good’ by unravelling a mystery or capturing a criminal.