Children's Favourites was a BBC Radio programme broadcast from 1954 until 1984 and Christmas editions from 2007 until 2015. Originally broadcast on the Light Programme on Saturday mornings from 9:00. Its precursor from 1952 was 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 introduced by Derek McCulloch, Uncle Mac. McCulloch's grandfatherly tone was quintessentially 'old-school' BBC. His opening words "Hello children, everywhere!", his catch-phrase was a modification of his much earlier closing words "Goodnight children, everywhere" on Children's Hour.
Children wrote in with requests 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 until the mid-1960s was Puffin' Billy by Edward White played by the Melodi Light Orchestra.
McCulloch made his last broadcast in 1965 and several other presenters were tried including Leslie Crowther. After Radio 1 and Radio 2 were launched, the show was renamed Junior Choice and simultaneously broadcast on both stations and Puffin' Billy was replaced by an instrumental version of the Seekers' hit Morningtown Ride played by Stan Butcher, from his 1966 album a His Birds and Brass.
In February 1968 Ed 'Stewpot' Stewart took over from Crowther and was the host for eleven years, attracting more than 17 million listeners. The style became less cosy and less reverent. As tastes changed, new favourites were added, though some old favourites remained for years. Pop records, as opposed to records specifically for children, were requested more frequently as the 1970s progressed. The programme often featured old favourites such as "A Windmill in Old Amsterdam" by Ronnie Hilton and "My Brother" by Terry Scott. The show was peppered with catch-phrase jingles such as "'Ello Darlin'", recorded by an unknown patient at a hospital in Billericay, and "Happy Birthday to You" sung by an eight-year old boy, from a football club in Crosskeys, on the team coach after the match.
In 1980 Stewart was replaced by Tony Blackburn, but by this time the programme was seen as somewhat old-fashioned. 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 broken.
In 2007, Stewart brought the show back to the airwaves for what became a regular two-hour Christmas Day special, the final one was Christmas 2015 as Ed Stewart died in January 2016. It is not known if the Christmas show will return with another presenter, with the only surviving past presenter Tony Blackburn now also having left the BBC.
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