Wednesday, 30 September 2020

Reading Habits Tag

Reading Habits Blog Challenge

Wednesday is usually Mini Mart day but we've moved back in with my parents for local lockdown. So, instead, here is a blog challenge I found on the Dreamland Book Blog


1. Do you have a certain place at home for reading? 

Not really. I either read in the living room or in bed.


2. Bookmark or random piece of paper? 

Random piece of paper. I keep meaning to buy - and, more importantly, use - a nice one, but I never get around to it.


3. Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop after a chapter/ a certain amount of pages? 

I always try and stop after a chapter - the only reasons I won't are having to get to work/some other time sensitive thing, or falling asleep...


4. Do you eat or drink while reading? 

Yep. If I'm home alone I'll always read while eating dinner.


5. Multitasking: Music or TV while reading? 

I don't mind if the TV is on but I can't actually watch and read at the same time. Listening to music is fine though. If I'm reading for research the most perfect band ever is The Killers. I mean, I like them, but everything just kind of sounds the same, one song merging into another. It's the ideal background noise.


6. One book at a time or several at once? 

It depends, but generally I prefer to read one book at a time.


7. Reading at home or everywhere? 

Everywhere!


8. Reading out loud or silently in your head?

Silently in my head. Anything longer than about Mr Men length is guaranteed to give me a sore throat when it comes to story time.


 9. Do you read ahead or even skip pages? 

I read ahead sometimes, but rather than skip pages I'll just revert back to speed reading like they taught it at Cambridge - first and last line of a paragraph, double quick.


10. Breaking the spine or keeping it like new? 

Keeping it like new if at all possible.


11. Do you write in your books? 

*horrified gasp* Never.


Readabits 

1. When do you find yourself reading? Morning, afternoon, evening, whenever you get the chance or all the time? 

When I get the chance - which is usually at night after Marianna has gone to bed. It has been suggested to me more than once that my constant nightmares could be related to my love of late night true crime / supernatural / etc reading...

2. What is your best setting to read in? 

Bed.

3. What do you do first – Read or Watch? 

Hmm, it very much depends what it is. I don't read an awful lot of original fiction, it's mostly non-fiction or fanfiction. So I guess I watch first then go trawling for fix-its.

4. What form do you prefer? Audiobook, E-book or physical book? 

E-book; it's easier to read on my phone than with a physical book (plus Anthony complains constantly about having the lamp on), and much easier to store too. The exceptions are childhood favourites and coffee table style reference books.

5. Do you have a unique habit when you read? 

I don't think so?

6. Do book series have to match? 

Only if I'm going to buy them! I don't really have any physical book series of my own, but it definitely matters to me when I'm buying kids' books for Marianna. Especially as I'd rather trawl for second hand copies than buy new releases with horrible updated artwork. 



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Tuesday, 29 September 2020

40 Kids Shows of the 1940s

40 Kids Shows of the 1940s

Television transmission had been switched off on September 1st 1939, shortly after the end of Mickey's Gala Premier. (For more on that, check out a post I made earlier: 30 Kids' Shows of the 1930s.) When the service was brought back on June 7th 1946, at 3pm, that Mickey Mouse cartoon was one of the first things shown, as though to say: we're picking right back up where we left off!

Before the war Disney cartoons filled the bulk of the BBC's animated offering, but when the service resumed viewers were more likely to see cartoons and puppet films from eastern Europe. In 1947 London hosted a Czechoslovak Film Festival which the BBC took full advantage of; as the Radio Times reported that September: 

The Czechoslovak Film Festival held in London earlier this year, and at which some of these films were shown, drew the attention of British audiences to the recent striking development of the Czech motion-picture industry. Film production in Prague is nationalised, and a special section, under J. Jilovec, is devoted to the making of short cartoon and puppet films, some in colour, some in black-and-white. Their original style, brilliant draughtsmanship, and native sense of humour, combined so skilfully in these films, make them equally attractive both to the student of the cinema and to the general viewer.

Animation was subsidised with American films and serials, typically comedies or simple adventure stories, and homegrown fare which was a mix of puppets, more puppets, and sticking the camera in front of nearby events ranging from swimming galas to model boat demonstrations. Back in the studio content tended to veer towards the easy to film, be that the obligatory puppets, Annette Mills singing, Rosalie Firth illustrating short stories, or J.F. Horrabin giving worthy talks about European economics.

Throughout 1946 and early 1947 children's programming was fairly patchy, with no real set schedule. Eventually the BBC settled on Sunday afternoons for their 'For the Children' segment, supplemented with the odd addition of weekday programming and a glut of content over the Christmas period. Most of the BBC's own content was broadcast live and no copies were made; the few shows that did make it to tape for ease of repeating invariably ended up wiped, leaving nothing but a few studio photos as proof they ever existed.

Well, that and the memories.

By the time TV finally expanded outside of greater London, transmitting to the Midlands for the first time on December 17th 1949, there were 126,000 TV licences held in the UK. When the service had been switched off in '39 that figure had been a mere 23,000. So, with the help of BBC Genome, here are 40 things you would have been able to watch if you were a 1940s kid living within range of the BBC transmission - providing, of course, you had access to a set...



Muffin the Mule

Muffin the Mule

No character was more synonymous with 1940s children's television than Muffin the Mule. The puppet was originally created in 1933 for the Hogarth Puppet Theatre - already regular television contributors - although it didn't make its on screen debut as Muffin until 1946. The Hogarths were working with presenter Annette Mills on content for the BBC's For The Children segment, resulting in Muffin being introduced to young viewers on October 20th 1946. Mills sang and played piano, while Ann Hogarth operated the puppet.

By the end of the 1940s Muffin was a weekly fixture and a star in his own right; he had all kinds of merchandise and, when Mills died in 1955, he decamped to ITV for a couple of years before returning to the Beeb. His most recent outing was in the 2005-08 animated series of the same name made for CBeebies and S4C.



Hogarth Puppet Theatre

Hogarth Puppet Theatre

Muffin wasn't the only Hogarth puppet on screen - the rest of the Hogarth Puppet Theatre continued to be a regular fixture, playing tricks and acting out stories. Ann Hogarth and Jan Bussell operated the puppets, sometimes with the help of Kitty Tyzack. The Hogarths also had a collection of glove puppets which they used to act out stories for younger children, such as the tales of The Squirrel, The Hare and Little Grey Rabbit by Alison Uttley.

Other puppet troupes which performed for children on the 1940s BBC included John Carr's Jacquard Puppets, Ernest Elliott's Humanettes, Cabaret Puppets, John Wright's Marionettes, Dixon's Royal Marionettes, The Mercury Marionettes, The Phelps Marionettes, The Pollard Puppets, Puppet Productions, and The Studio Marionette Theatre.



Mickey's Gala Premier

Mickey Mouse

Before the war Disney cartoons had been a staple of the BBC schedules - 1933's Mickey's Gala Premier had been the last programme shown before the service was switched off for the duration. When the television service resumed on June 7th 1946 the BBC repeated it, after an official welcome to viewers at 3pm.

For the rest of the 1940s it would be a relatively rare occurrence to see Mickey on the small screen in the UK, although the BBC did air Mickey Mouse specials - introduced by Muffin the Mule - in honour of his 20th birthday in 1948.



Richard Hearne as Mr Pastry

Richard Hearne

Comedian Richard Hearne, best known for his 'Mr Pastry' character, was occasionally drafted in for presenting duties. He featured in family friendly variety line ups all over the schedule, and even predicted the future frustrations of Blue Peter by showing viewers (08/02/1948) what a muddle he got into attempting to make a toy parrot, following the instructions given by W. P. Matthew on the previous Sunday.



The Song of Joy

The Song of Joy

The Song of Joy - Песенка радости - is a 1946 Russian cartoon directed by Mstislav Pashchenko for Soyuzmultfilm. The BBC aired it on Sunday 25th July 1948 with Mollie Maureen narrating.



Laurel and Hardy

Laurel and Hardy

Laurel and Hardy shorts were deemed fitting fare for the nation's children by the BBC, so were aired on various occasions in the 1940s. 1934's The Live Ghost, for example, was shown at 4:20pm on Sunday 6th June 1948, sandwiched between two segments about children swimming at the Finchley open air swimming pool.



Spring Melodies

Spring Melodies

In place of Disney the BBC began showing more Soyuzmultfilm fare from Russia in the 1940s. Spring Melodies (1946) - Весенние мелодии - was aired on Sunday 11th July 1948 as part of their For the Children segment, sandwiched between athletics advice from Olympic athletes and the British team manager, Jack Crump.



The Puddle-Muddle Riddle

The Puddle-Muddle Riddle

Road safety was a growing concern in 1940s Britain. On Sunday 16th February 1947, BBC cameras were placed on Chiswick High Street to watch pedestrians make some of the common road crossing mistakes, with experts on hand to correct them. On Sunday 23rd November a more entertaining route was taken, with Seven League Productions' short film about a town with no road safety rules.



The Adventures of Rex and Rinty

The Adventures of Rex and Rinty

This 12 part 1935 serial starring Rex 'the king of the wild horses' and Rin Tin Tin, Jr was advertised in the Radio Times as a feature for younger viewers throughout the latter part of April 1949. It aired in the 3pm slot on weekday afternoons.



Toyland Revolt

Toyland Revolt

Revolt of the Toys - Vzpoura hraček - was a Czech animated short directed by Hermína Týrlová in 1946. The online synopsis reads: "In WWII Czechoslovakia, an old toymaker incorporates secret messages in his models to fool the Germans. They find him out and he flees. As the Gestapo officer hunts around he is attacked by the toys, who send him packing." The BBC aired it at least twice in 1947, first on November 9th and then again on December 28th.



Tex Ritter

Tex Ritter

Another regular feature in both the family friendly 3pm weekday slots and the Sunday children's segment was Tex Ritter, 'America's Most Beloved Cowboy'. E.g. at 4pm on Sunday 24th October 1948 Ritter's The Mystery of the Hooded Horsemen (1937) was billed as For the Children: In this Western adventure film, hooded riders terrorise the mine-owners until Tex and his friends round them up.



Commander A. B. Campbell

Commander A. B. Campbell

Commander Archibald Bruce Campbell was a British naval officer who turned to radio broadcasting in 1935. By 1937 he was already involved with the fledgling television service, presenting light entertainment show Cabaret Cruise, and when TV was switched off for the duration he joined the panel of The Brains Trust, later recognised as BBC Radio's "outstanding popular triumph of the war"  capable of pulling in 12 million listeners per show. When TV resumed service, household name Campbell was an obvious choice for presenting duties - he was a regular feature of children's programming in 1946, talking about the 'treasures' to be found in his sea chest. E.g. 7th July 1946 viewers could look forward to Campbell and his sea chest, then "L. N. and M. Williams, of the Junior Philatelic Society, show[ing] young collectors commemorative stamps." Hmmm.



Fred the Ant

Fred the Ant

Hermína Týrlová, otherwise known as the mother of Czech animation, used puppetry to transfer Ondřej Sekora's popular children's book character 'Ferda Mravenec' (Ferdinand the Ant) to the screen in 1943. The BBC described it as 'a puppet film from Czechoslovakia', airing it on Sunday 16th February 1947.



Percy Press Punch and Judy

Punch and Judy

Punch and Judy was always a favourite at the BBC; Ernest Brisbane performed in 1946 and Percy Press appeared at least seven times in the 1940s - but no appearance could top that of Sunday 27th June 1948 when he shared the billing with Russian cartoon The Fox and the Thrush, a talk on wild flowers by F.H. Grisewood and Frank Ballard from the Royal Botanic Gardens, and a demonstration of newt rearing from George Cansdale, Assistant Superintendent of the Zoological Society. A thrill a minute, I'm sure you'll agree!



Picture Page

Picture Page

Picture Page was a magazine show that had first aired in 1936 and would continue until 1952. Joan Gilbert, who had originally worked on the show as a reporter and then assistant editor, took over presenting duties when television service was resumed after WW2 - and this soon extended to an irregularly broadcast 'junior edition' for children.



Wrangler's Roost

Wrangler's Roost

1941 western Wrangler's Roost was the seventh film in Monogram's Range Busters series, and was deemed suitable 'For the Children' on Sunday 20th February 1949.




Voyage to the North Pole

Georges Méliès is the granddaddy of special effects and if you have any interest in media at all, chances are you've seen at least one of his 500+ films. The Conquest of the Pole - À la conquête du pôle - from 1912 is often seen as Méliès's masterpiece, for all it was a box office flop at the time. The BBC aired it as part of their 'For the Children' segment on Sunday 11th January 1948, just before Peter Thompson showed viewers some of the pictures at the Van Gogh Exhibition at the Tate Gallery, and right after Lucy Fang told two famous Chinese stories: "The Old Man who removed a Mountain", and "Two Brothers who lived on a Farm".



Percy Edwards

Percy Edwards

Percy Edwards was an accomplished animal impersonator who had been working with the BBC on various projects since 1930. During the 1940s Edwards appeared in programming for both children and adults, working with illustrator 'Fishhawk' to help viewers identify different breeds of bird by eye and by ear.



The Fox and the Thrush

The Fox and the Thrush

Directed by Alexander Ivanov, The Fox and the Thrush was a 1946 Soyuzmultfilm production based on a Russian folktale. The BBC aired it during their For the Children segment on Sunday 27th June 1948, with Nina Burch narrating the story in English.



Annette Mills

Annette's Song Cupboard

Annette Mills, of Muffin the Mule fame, teamed up with handyman Mr Lightning (Anthony Spurgeon) to see songs come to life via her special song cupboard - and dancers from the Arts Educational Schools. 



Renfrew of the Mounties

Adventures on the Yukon

Renfrew of the Royal Mounted was a series of popular adventure stories by Laurie York Erskine. In 1937 Grand National Pictures released the first of eight films based on them, starring James Newill. The BBC showed one as part of their For the Children segment on Sunday 1st August 1948.



Bobby Brewster

Bobby Bewster

H. E. Todd came into the studio a couple of times in 1948 to read Bobby Brewster stories, prior to the first book being published in 1949.



The Eagle's Feather

The Eagle's Feather

The Eagle's Feather - Орлиное перо - is a 1946 Soyuzmultfilm cartoon directed by Dmitriy Babichenko. The BBC aired it on Sunday July 4th 1948 and then again on Sunday 19th June 1949, with the Radio Times listing explaining: A little rabbit learns to fly by capturing three magic eagle's feathers. He becomes so brave that he frightens away a cross old bear who is the terror of the woods.



Toad of Toad Hall

Toad of Toad Hall

A.A. Milne adapted the 1908 novel Wind in the Willows into the play Toad of Toad Hall in the late 1920s. Michael Barry adapted it for TV in December 1946 starring Kenneth More as Badger. It became a kind of Christmas staple and was put on for two or three performances every year for the rest of the 1940s.



Spejbl and Hurvínek

Spejbl and Hurvínek

Spejbl and Hurvínek are a father - son comedy duo created by Czech puppeteer Prof. Josef Skupa. Skupa brought his puppet troupe to Britain in 1947, appearing on the BBC on Monday May 5th to introduce his characters, then again on Sunday May 2nd 1948 to have them take viewers to Monkeys' Circus.



Marriage in the Coral Sea

Marriage in the Coral Sea

Better known as Wedding in the Coral Sea - Svatba v korálovém moři - this 1944 Czech cartoon followed 'the creatures of the sea preparing for the wedding of two fish. When the fish bride is kidnapped by an octopus all the sea creatures must team up to defeat him and rescue the bride.' The BBC showed it on Sunday 17th August 1947 and Sunday 28th September 1947.



The Teen-Age Show

The 'Teen-Age Show

First aired in December 1946, The 'Teen-Age Show was a semi regular feature showcasing young entertainers, youth fashions, etc. Although not technically part of the Beeb's children's programming, I figure it deserves a place on this list just the same! The show was usually 45 minutes long and by February 1949 the Radio Times was describing it as: "The Teen Age Show, now established as one of television's most successful programmes by young people, brings to the studio more stars of tomorrow."

The most comprehensive listing was for the March 1948 edition which promised: "Sixty minutes of entertainment brought to you by young people from twelve to twenty. No fewer than fifteen different items by artists still in their 'teens will be given in Bill Ward's 'Teen-Age programme. Of particular interest to the technically minded-fathers as well as sons will be an interview with a fifteen-year-old youngster, John Hayes, who has made his own television set. Old friends from previous 'Teen-Age shows include fourteen-year-old Evelyn Kramer, who commered the last programme and is singing in this one, and Vivian Pickles, who introduces a fashion parade in her first television appearance since Wuthering Heights."

Bill Ward usually produced the show, though there was no fixed presenter. Individuals who fulfilled the role included Stanley Holloway, Leslie Mitchell, McDonald Hobley, Mary Malcolm, Harry Hemsley, Harold Warrender, and Gordon Harker.



Papageno 1935

Papageno

Lotte Reiniger's 1935 silhouette animation Papageno was shown on Sunday 11th April 1948. It probably seemed just as otherworldly then as it does today!



Barrie Edgar

Do You Know?

Barrie Edgar presented this film quiz show for children on Sunday 31st July 1949. Edgar presented for the children's segment a few times, guiding young viewers through all kinds of trips out with the camera, from the zoo to Holly Hill Farm to North Weald Airfield where "young members of the Air Training Corps show Barrie Edgar how learning to fly aeroplanes calls for hard work on the ground as well as practice in the air."



The First Christmas Morning

The First Christmas Morning

Minnie Lake's The First Christmas Morning was a special talking book: you put the accompanying gramophone record on and turned the pages to follow the story. On Sunday 21st December 1947 the BBC used it to fill ten minutes of their 'For the Children' segment - programming doesn't get much easier than this!



Baby Checkers - Gran'pop's Nursery

Gran'pop's Nursery

This cartoon film was shown on Sunday 19th September 1948. I'd never heard of it before seeing the Radio Times listing, and Google doesn't appear to be any better informed. Research suggests, however, that it could be one of Ub Iwerks' 1939 cartoons featuring Lawson Wood's Gran'pop Monkey character. Three were definitely completed - Baby Checkers, Busy Day, and Beauty Shoppe - and others were possibly began before Iwerks returned to Disney. So, yeah, my guess is this was a retitled showing of Baby Checkers.



Little Lord Fauntleroy

Little Lord Fauntleroy

The 1936 film version of Little Lord Fauntleroy starring Freddie Bartholomew and Mickey Rooney was shown by the BBC no less than three times in the 1940s. Once in the Thursday 8:30pm slot (December 30th 1948), and twice as part of the Sunday afternoon 'For the Children' segment (July 18th 1948 and 25th December 1949).



Swiss Family Robinson

Swiss Family Robinson

More Freddie Bartholomew, this time in the 1940 RKO version of Swiss Family Robinson. The BBC aired it in their Sunday afternoon 'For the Children' segment on October 2nd 1949. London born Bartholomew was considered a more than appropriate star for the kids; Tom Brown's School Days (1940) was also aired on Sunday 25th September 1949.





Misha the Bear

This 1947 Czech puppet animation was based on the Míša Kulička stories by Josefa Menzela. The BBC showed it on Sunday 9th November 1947.



Pearl Binder

Pearl Binder

Author and illustrator Pearl Binder was a regular face on 1940s BBC television. Her presenting career stretched back to 1937 when she was perhaps the first heavily pregnant woman to ever appear on the small screen. In the 40s Binder illustrated pieces on fashion for adults, fairy stories for children, and just about everything in between. Particularly interesting are the 'family albums' she illustrated to tell young viewers about places she and her family had visited. E.g. On March 6th 1949 Pearl Binder's illustrations of her children, Dan, Josephine and Elizabeth, visiting the House of Commons were shown with narration by Betty Hardy.



Whispering Smith Speaks

Whispering Smith Speaks

This 1935 action film was billed as being 'For the Children' on Monday 26th December 1949. Other George O'Brien films shown as part of the segment was The Border Patrolman (1936) which the BBC aired on Sunday October 9th 1949, and Daniel Boone (1936) which was aired on Sunday 28th November 1948.



Heste

The Life of a Foal

The Foal - Føllet - was a short Danish documentary film directed by Astrid and Bjarne Henning-Jensen in 1943. The BBC aired it on Sunday 27th February 1949, presented by Brian Vesey-Fitzgerald.



The Old Man and the Beetroot

The Old Man and the Beetroot

Grandpa Planted a Beet - Zasadil dědek řepu - is a 1945 Czech cartoon directed by Jiří Trnka, aka 'the Walt Disney of Eastern Europe.' The BBC aired it on Sunday 28th September 1947.



Charlie Chaplin

Charlie Chaplin

Another familiar face on children's TV of the 1940s was Charlie Chaplin. His by then vintage shorts were occasionally used to pad out the BBC schedule, like on Sunday 19th January 1947 when Charlie's New Job (1915) was shown.



Bertram Mills Circus

Bertram Mills Circus

The Bertram Mills Circus was a household name in the 1940s, with the company especially renowned for their Christmas shows in London. The Beeb often stuck a camera at the scene during December or January, taking advantage of the spectacle more or less on their doorstep.



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Monday, 28 September 2020

Simba Toys Super Model

Simba Toys Super Models

Simba Toys' answer to the Moxie Girls, Super Models, were launched in spring 2013. Standing 26cm tall, there were four characters in the line up - Bel, Juls, Miri and Sarah. They all had fully articulated bodies, rooted hair and decal faces. 



Simba Toys Super Models - Palm Beach

Palm Beach

★ Miri - box front / box back.
Sarah - box front / box back.
Juls - box front / box back.
★ Bel - box front / box back.

Simba Super Models Palm Beach



Simba Toys Super Models - Cold Days

Cold Days

★ Bel - box front / box back.
★ Juls - box front / box back.
★ Sarah - box front / box back.
★ Miri - box front / box black.

Simba Super Models Cold Days



Simba Toys Super Models - Fancy Winter

Fancy Winter

★ Bel - box front / box back.
★ Sarah - box front / box back.
Juls - box front / box back.
★ Miri - box front / box back.

Simba Super Models Fancy Winter



Simba Toys Super Models - Fit Fashion

Fit Fashion

★ Bel - box front / box back.
★ Miri - box front / box back.
★ Sarah - box front / box back.
★ Juls - box front / box back.

Simba Super Models Fit Fashion



Simba Toys Super Models - Chic City Walk

Chic City Walk

★ Bel - box front / box back.
Juls - box front / box back.
★ Sarah - box front / box back.
★ Miri - box front / box back.

Simba Super Models Chic City Walk



Simba Toys Super Models - Chic Hairstyles


Chic Hairstyles

★ Miri - box front / box back.
★ Sarah - box front / box back.
Juls - box front / box back.
★ Bel - box front / box back.

Simba Super Models Chic Hairstyles



Simba Toys Super Models - Glitter Stars

Glitter Stars

Miri - box front / box back.
Juls - box front / box back.
★ Bel - box front / box back.
Sarah - box front / box back.

Simba Super Models Glitter Stars



Other

There were a few other items released for the line, including a styling head and a make-up book.



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Dolls



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