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The Story of Children's Television from 1946 to Now


©Herbert Art Gallery & Museum / Mark Radford

Classic children’s television programmes hold a special place in both individual and cultural memories. Drs Helen Wheatley and Rachel Moseley’s research into the history of children’s television culture culminated in an exhibition in the Herbert Gallery, displaying artefacts from much loved children’s programming from 1946 until today.

About the exhibition

The Story of Children's TV from 1946 to Today was a collaboration between Dr Wheatley, Dr Moseley and The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, as well as the BBC and Kaleidoscope. From May - September 2015, nearly 200 items from television shows from the past 70 years were on display at The Herbert in a free exhibition. It received over 83,000 visitors, by far the most successful exhibition in The Herbert's 50-year history.

The highly interactive exhibition celebrated children's TV in Britain with original material such as the original 1990s Tracy Island model created on Blue Peter, Gordon the Gopher from the Broom Cupboard, and the original puppets of Fingermouse, Rastamouse and Muffin the Mule.

Through The Story of Children's TV, Drs Wheatley and Moseley explored the cultural significance of children's television programming in Britain, as a subject of nostalgia and a medium which reinvents past themes and characters through new media. By bringing together artefacts from the past 70 years of children's television, the researchers were able to trace developments in programming, from the introduction of ITV in 1955 to the ways in which modern technology is changing how young people access content.

“Countless stories, characters and theme songs have come, gone or stayed on our television screens and every generation have their own favourite childhood programmes. However, despite the central role they play in our culture the story of children’s television is under-researched. We’re delighted to support this project to give this story its own showing and bring together decades of memories for us all to enjoy.”

Reyahn King, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund, West Midlands

The exhibition was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, BBC, Ragdoll Productions, ITV, Kaleidoscope and the Children’s Media Foundation.

Exhibition Tour

After its success in Coventry, the exhibition toured nationally in these venues:

Portsmouth City Museum October 2015 to February 2016
The Dorman Museum, Middlesbrough March to June 2016
M Shed, Bristol Museums, Galleries & Archives July to September 2016
Derby Museum and Art Gallery from October 2016 to January 2017

This unique event demonstrated how important Children’s Programmes have been and continue to be to the cultural life of the UK"

Kay Benbow, former Controller of CBeebies