Why Don’t You Switch Off Your TV Set And Go And Do Something Less Boring Instead? (CBBC, 1973-1995)
This was one of the longest-running (and also longest-titled) CBBC shows of its era, which is rather surprising when you consider that the basic idea of the show was that you actually shouldn’t be watching it, and it recommended some alternatives that it insisted were much more interesting ways to spend your time.
Why Don’t You…? was partly a show that showed viewers how to make things, but it also contained a drama element, making it fall somewhere between Blue Peter and Grange Hill (two other memorable CBBC shows that I plan to review soon). The show always featured a cast of children that came from a particular city, such as “the Cardiff gang” or “the Bristol gang”.
As well as featuring activities that we should all have a go at, there was also an ongoing story that could be very exciting. Some of the things that were made by the cast were based on ideas sent in by viewers, and these normally featured recipes involving lots of biscuits, or creative things that could be done with pieces of paper, you would be surprised at what you could do with a pen, along with some glue and scissors.
There were also features including playing various sports, along with interesting places to visit. When was the last time that you went to the zoo? Most editions also ended with a cliffhanger that was rather exciting, how would the cast get out of this one. It seems that there was also an exploding robotic sheep, although I might’ve dreamt that. And of course, if you did want to make some of the ideas yourself you could send off for the factsheet.
One of the things that the show is remembered for now is when Ant (of “and Dec” fame) was among the cast in some of his earliest TV appearances. I’m not sure of how many other cast members went on to bigger things though. Why Don’t You…? ran for an impressive 22 years (and 42 series), and I was a regular viewer in the 90s. I don’t think that any editions have ever been released on VHS or DVD though, but it’s one of the small number of children’s TV shows that viewers from the 70s right though to the 90s will definitely be familiar with.