Gregg Nunney: Signal that holidays had arrived

Why Don't You... the signal that the summer holidays had started, says Gregg
Why Don't You... the signal that the summer holidays had started, says Gregg

There’s one thing the youth of today won’t appreciate at the start of the school summer holidays.

That’s the start of summer holiday telly.

Nowadays we have children’s TV 24 hours a day, with the likes of Nickelodeon and CBBC on a constant loop throughout July and August.

Back in the days of the broom cupboard, however, it was a treat to see which series were included in the extended programming that BBC and ITV were to offer.

Treats included series with particular story arcs such as Around the World with Willy Fogg and the quite marvellous Mysterious Cities of Gold.

There were also re-runs of classics from the Sixties and Seventies such as Batman, The Monkees and the rather magnificent Batfink (his wings were like a shield of steel, you know...)

I’m not saying that the programmes were much better then than they are now – even though that is the case – but the concept of more than an hour of kids telly a day was a signifier that the lazy, crazy, hazy days of summer were well and truly here.

One of the shows that came back every summer during my childhood was Why Don’t You?

It’s the programme that launched the career of Ant from Ant and Dec before he went on to meet his mate at Byker Grove. There were makes, jokes and skits – it was like an anarchic version of Blue Peter. All in all the show ran for 22 years and somewhere in the depths of my mum’s loft I still have the fun packs and fact sheets I sent off for to keep myself amused over the school holidays. I’m not even lying when I say that the “microwave fudge” recipe that I followed to a T ended up melting a plastic bowl and nearly setting fire to the kitchen.

Much like Going Live! on a Saturday morning, summer holiday TV has been consigned to Room 101 where it’s breaking bread with Woolworths and Cadbury’s Secret bars.