Dappledown Farm (TV-am, 1990-1992, Channel 5, 1997-1999)
This is just about the final children’s show that I want to review that was shown in a breakfast slot. I remember that this one was shown at the weekend on TV-am, and it was rather an area of calm compared to the much more fast-moving and noisy shows that also featured in the strand that I enjoyed including Wide Awake Club and Top Banana.
Dappledown Farm, was, as the title suggests, set on a farm. Well, it said it was, it looked suspiciously more like it was a TV studio with a set made out of cardboard to me. Now I didn’t live anywhere near a farm at the time (and I still don’t now), so this show was a chance to find out more about the various animals that lived there, what they did, and what noises they made!
The show was helped out by being hosted by Brian Cant, someone who was a veteran of children’s TV by this point, who of course presented many other memorable shows over the years including Play School and Bric-A-Brac, so it was rather clear that this was going to be good. Also in the studio (I mean farm), there were various animals, but they were all puppets.
They included Dapple the horse, Mabel the cow, Columbus the cockerel, and Stubble and Straw, a pair of mice who were just great. There were also some features including meeting some animals, as Brian took the opportunity to tell as more about happens on a real farm. There would also be stories told that were accompanied by illustrations, and viewers could also send in their pictures. Most of them seemed to come from viewers about five or six years old, which gives you an idea of the age group the show was aimed at.
We were also shown how to make things. This led to the show having an unexpected moment of exposure on It’ll Be Alright On The Night, when Brian’s attempt to make a dinosaur went all wrong, much to the upset of the mice. Brian realised at that point that never mind the old saying that you should never work with children or animals, you should never work with toilet rolls either. Well any publicity is good publicity I suppose.
Dappledown Farm did well enough for there to be some highlights released on two tapes. Then, rather curiously, about five years after it had originally ended on TV-am, the show returned on Channel 5 as part of the early-morning Milkshake! strand. It seems that these were new shows, meaning that Brian was back, all of the puppets had to be dusted off, and it picked up where it left off really.