Hotch Potch House (BBC2, 1996)
This is another show from the 90s that was for children, although it was always shown in a schools slot and not a CBBC one. This is because Hotch Potch House was another one of those educational shows that aimed to teach viewers all about letters, numbers, shapes, animals, and much more besides. Can you count to three? Well you’ll be able to after watching this!
Now I’m fairly sure that I had grasped these basics by this point, but once again I decided to set the video for this to discover a little more about what schools programming was around at the time. I remember that someone asked if I could upload an edition to YouTube, but I never got round to it because it looked really bad as the analogue BBC2 on my TV at the time was rather fuzzy… well you don’t need to know that really, I suppose I should get on with reviewing the show.
Hotch Potch House was a show that stood out more than most from this time, and it got its name from the fact that was set in a house that was made out of recycled cardboard boxes and tins and so on. In there lived three different puppet characters. They were Raggs, Shelley (voiced by Francis Wright, who voiced a lot of puppets around this time including The Head on Art Attack), and Woolie (who looked suspiciously like George from Rainbow).
A story would be told throughout the show such as planning a birthday party, and there would also be various features that would be introduced by zooming in on parts of the house including the front door, the chimney, or the window. These included the first five numbers and the first six letters (animated by the same team behind Pigeon Street), plus people doing various activities, along with some rather strange songs.
Another regular feature was The Mouse House, where Nana who was up in the attic read a story about five mice friends. This was animated by the same team behind another popular schools show from around this time, El Nombre, starring everyone’s favourite Mexican anthropomorphic mathematics-obsessed gerbil. Lots of things were learned and everyone had a good time, I imagine.
There were 11 editions of Hotch Potch House, I don’t know if there were plans for any more as they only got as far as number 5 and the letter F, we’ll never know what comes next. But being a schools show meant that it was repeated rather often, and it was shown as late as 2002. I don’t think that any editions were released on VHS, but a compilation of some The Mouse House stories were.