Alphabet Castle (CITV, 1993-1995)
This is another show that launched in CITV’s slot for its youngest viewers after it was moved to 3:30 in the autumn of 1993. Of course, it all centred around teaching viewers the alphabet in an entertaining way. Now as I was ten years old at the time of the launch, I was fairly sure that I had already cracked it with reference to how the alphabet worked and what order the letters go in, but as it was a time that I was always on the lookout for new shows that might catch my interest, I thought that I would give it a go.
Alphabet Castle was written by Michael Cole and, as it said in the title, was set in a castle, which according to the opening theme music was somewhere in the air, seemingly floating on a cloud. There were only two regular cast members, King Alpha (Stephen Cannon) who had a big beard, and Queen Bet (Joanne Campbell, who also appeared in a few sitcoms in the 80s and 90s, and died in 2002). “Alpha” and “Bet”, very clever. They did play a big range of other characters throughout the series though.
Every episode of the show was centred around a letter (there was a similar idea in the CITV series Alphabet Zoo about a decade earlier, but I don’t remember watching that one). The show began with that edition’s letter on a flag, and then there would be songs based around the letter to help viewers learn some more words. “A is for apple”, who would’ve guessed, there’s a surprise. It must’ve been interesting when they had to think of enough things to fill the time when they got to the letter X.
There would also often be an interval that featured the rather bizarre adventures of Gobbledygook, an animated turkey who had his own opening theme song, and he would always get his words the wrong way round (“that’s the way the talkey turks“). After he was corrected, he would always say “that’s what I said!”. There would also be stories about the names of previous kings and queens of the castle, and a board where a letter would be placed on it, and then a picture would appear behind it and they had to guess what it was.
There were 65 episodes of Alphabet Castle in three series, and every edition was about ten minutes long. Later editions concentrated on teaching viewers about all kinds of different words now that we’d all learned our ABC. It was also another show that was well-served by VHS, with plenty of editions being released, but once again, there have been none on DVD.