Hokey Cokey (BBC1, 1983-1984)
I thought that I had reviewed all of the shows that I watched from the See-Saw strand for younger viewers that was on the BBC in the 80s, but then I remembered another one that’s worth taking a look back at, there really are a lot of them aren’t there. Hokey Cokey of course took its title from the famous song and dance that was performed in a playground by various children as part of the opening and closing sequence.
I was rather surprised to discover recently that in America the dance is called the “Hokey Pokey”, what’s that all about. The show was hosted by Chloe Ashcroft (alternating with Carol Chell) along with Don Spencer, and between all of them there were plenty of songs and stories featured. It has been said there is barely any difference between Hokey Cokey and the long-running Play School, to the point that you wondered why they did it really, but I’m pleased that they did.
The main difference was that this show featured two small clown puppet characters (the puppets that is, not the hosts) called, not too surprisingly, Hokey and Cokey, and Don operated them and made them speak (but because of his Australian accent, they ended up sounding two people bickering in an average episode of Neighbours). Every edition had a different theme, such as space or sailing.
Don often liked to get his guitar out to perform a song while Chloe or Carol did a dance around a rather bare studio, and there was plenty to learn. If you want to know what a penguin is, then this is the place to be. One story featured was a Meg And Mog book. Now I remember enjoying these myself when I was younger, so I was pleased to see it featured here, and about two decades on from this there was a cartoon version shown on CITV.
The show would also end with the hosts telling us where the Hokey Cokey would start in the ending sequence presumably so the viewers could join in, such as our right arm or our left leg, so get ready. I noticed that the producer was Christine Hewitt, but probably not the one that Arthur Fowler famously had an affair with on EastEnders in the early-90s.
There were 26 editions of Hokey Cokey that were 15 minutes long, and like several other See-Saw shows it was repeated rather frequently on BBC1 (sometimes on Sundays at 9am) and BBC2 until as late as 1989, which was when I saw some of them. I’m not sure if any episodes were released on VHS, but there was an album featuring lots of songs from the show.