Breakfast Serials (CBBC, 1990)
I am stretching the rules a little on this one, firstly because this isn’t a show that I remember watching at the time, and also because it actually wasn’t every shown in the main CBBC afternoon slot, but I found a couple of editions online recently and I thought that it was worthy of a review, and, well, law of averages means I’m sure that there will be someone somewhere who did watch it.
Breakfast Serials was a 15-part series that was shown on Saturday Mornings at 8am, and featured a quartet of performers who took part in six different segments that were roughly five minutes each. It seems that they have not been seen before or since, but they were Caroline Berry, John Biggins, Lucy Jenkins and William Petrie. The show was co-written and produced by Russell Davies who would later take Doctor Who into the new millennium.
The first of the six segments was The Kitchen Crew, where a puppet teapot, tomato and tin can on a table interacted with each other (they even made a joke about Chain Letters and everything). The others were Cheapo TV, a straightforward parody of various shows that were around at the time including Howards’ Way and Last Of The Summer Wine (a bonus for having them all end with “© CHEAPO TV MCMXC” in the correct font and everything).
Single Tales was where a story was told in a Jackanory style by one member of the cast who played all of the various roles. One of these was simply described by Radio Times as “Zoe’s aunt turns into a chicken”. Zounds featured some rather bizarre sketches taking place in a white void, including Catch The Parrot and The Fresh Fruit Dance, which was great.
Runners was a science-fiction drama that was about the hunt for two people. And NiceChap was another drama, with the twist being that it was about a comic character that came to life and spoke in rhyming couplets, and there were three five-part stories. Also making a special guest appearance was The Almighty Tea Cosy, and credited among the writers was The Salad Pig. Terrific.
The show would also end with a song from The Kitchen Crew over the credits, and seeing a tomato sing “Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep” is definitely a sight that I don’t think I’ll forget. There was only one series of Breakfast Serials, and there has been no DVD release. I imagine that if I was around at the time, I would be more likely to have been watching what TV-am had to offer, but it was good to finally catch up on this one after almost three decades.