Let’s Pretend (CITV, 1982-1988)
This is another CITV show from the 80s that always appeared in the strand that was described as “for younger viewers” (others included Allsorts and Rainbow that I both reviewed a while ago), and this one was usually shown on Mondays around midday. As I was one of those younger viewers at the time, this is possibly among the earliest TV shows that I ever watched.
Of course, the first thing that has to be referenced about Let’s Pretend is the rather bizarre opening sequence. This consisted of a puppet thing (probably a caterpillar) that made some strange noises and wiggled up and down rather unconvincingly while a picture of a house appeared, presumably the one that the show took place in (the show’s title doesn’t appear on screen, but it is referenced in the opening song).
Let’s Pretend would feature a cast of three (that changed for every edition and were credited as “pretenders”) who with the minimum of props and set design would put on a play and act out a story. I’m not sure if this was because the budget of the show was about £5, or if it was because the show really wanted to prove that simply having a good idea can really set off the imagination.
The cast would be sat around a table, when an item appeared, and they had to get thinking and put on a show based around it. They looked at pictures in books and also put together a song on the piano, and by this point the edition’s theme had been established. When it was time for the performance, the curtain went up and the cast played a wide variety of characters, including people in nursery rhymes, and also various jobs.
Having watched a few editions of Let’s Pretend again recently, I did notice that the people making a show and trying create something out of nothing in a completely bare studio element was rather similar to the The Tent Stop on Playdays that launched in the late-80s. Again, it does remind me of how the earliest TV shows that you watched do stay with you, it brought the memories back all these years on.
There were over 200 editions made of Let’s Pretend, and I’m fairly sure that none of them have been released on VHS or DVD (but there was a repeat run on local channel Big Centre TV a few years ago). It also reminded me of when in 1990 The Beano launched a new character called Les Pretend who had a rather wild imagination and liked to dress as various things and act out a few fantasies every week, but it could be just a coincidence though. It’s fun to pretend.