Children's Favourites

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Children's Favourites was a BBC Radio programme from 1954 broadcast on the Light Programme on Saturday mornings from 9:00. A precursor (from 1952) had been called Children's Choice after the style of Housewives' Choice.

The programme played requests from children of all ages. For most of its run, the programme was frequently introduced by Derek McCulloch (Uncle Mac). McCulloch's grandfatherly tone was quintessentially 'old-school' BBC. His opening words "Hello children, everywhere!" were his "catch-phrase", though a modification of his much earlier closing words "Goodnight children, everywhere" on Children's Hour.

Many children wrote in with requests, though often just to get their names mentioned on the radio. McCulloch ensured that all types of music were played whatever the majority had requested: not just children's pieces but a wide range of music from pop to hymns to the light classics. The signature tune for most of the time until the mid-1960s was Puffin' Billy by Edward White played by Melodi Light Orchestra.

McCulloch made his last broadcast in 1965 and several other presenters were then tried including Leslie Crowther. After Radio 1 and Radio 2 were launched, the show was renamed Junior Choice (simultaneously broadcast on the two stations) and Puffin' Billy was replaced by Morningtown Ride. An instrumental version of the Seekers' hit was used, played by Stan Butcher and his Birds and Brass.

In February 1968 Ed 'Stewpot' Stewart took over from Crowther and became the host for eleven years, attracting over 17 million listeners. The style became less cosy and less reverent. As tastes changed, new favourites were added, though some of the old favourites remained for years. Additionally pop music records, as opposed to records specifically for children, were requested more frequently as the 1970s progressed.

In 1980 Stewart was replaced as presenter by Tony Blackburn, but by this time the programme had come to be seen as somewhat old-fashioned. Blackburn despised the show and, when promoting it at the end of the previous week's Top 40 show, would often revert to a plummy 1950s type of voice such as he naturally spoke with before he became a DJ. (He had abandoned his original accent in favour of his familiar mid-Atlantic tones after being told by Radio Caroline that he sounded too "posh" ) The title "Junior Choice" was dropped in the early months of 1982, but similar programmes, now titled "Tony Blackburn's Saturday Show" and "Tony Blackburn's Sunday Show" continued until 23 September 1984, after which Blackburn left Radio 1, Peter Powell took over the weekend breakfast show, and the link with the "Uncle Mac" era was finally broken.

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