Watch with Mother

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Watch with Mother
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
Running time 15 minutes
Original network BBC1
Original release 1953 (1953) – 1975 (1975)

Watch with Mother was a cycle of children's programmes created by Freda Lingstrom and Maria Bird. Broadcast by BBC Television from 1953 until 1975, it was the first BBC television series aimed specifically at pre-school children, a development of BBC radio's equivalent Listen with Mother, which had begun two years earlier. In accordance with its intended target audience of pre-school children viewing with their mothers, Watch with Mother was initially broadcast between 3:45 pm and 4:00 pm, post-afternoon nap and before the older children came home from school.[1]

The choice of Watch with Mother for the title of the series was intended "to deflect fears that television might become a nursemaid to children and encourage 'bad mothering'".[2]

Show cycles[edit]

Although Andy Pandy had been regularly broadcast every Tuesday since mid-1950, joined by the Flower Pot Men in December 1952, the name Watch with Mother was not adopted until 1953, when the programming was expanded to three afternoons a week with the addition of Rag, Tag and Bobtail. The "classic" cycle of shows was in place by September 1955, with the first showing of The Woodentops.[2] Broadcast at 1:30 pm each day,[3] it comprised:[2]

  • Picture Book – Mondays from 1955
  • Andy Pandy – Tuesdays from 1950
  • Flower Pot Men – Wednesdays from 1952
  • Rag, Tag and Bobtail – Thursdays from 1953
  • The Woodentops – Fridays from 1955

The original programmes had a loyal following and there was concern when it was learned that they would be replaced by new programmes, as in 1965 when it was thought that Camberwick Green would replace Andy Pandy and Flower Pot Men. Eventually the new programmes were added, including: Tales of the Riverbank, Pogles' Wood, The Herbs, Joe, the Trumptonshire trilogy, Barnaby, Mr Benn, Bagpuss, Fingerbobs, Bod and Bizzy Lizzy.

By 1975 the Watch with Mother title had been dropped, as it was considered to be dated, and by 1980 the strand had been named See-Saw.[2] A Watch with Mother video became a best-seller in 1987, and was followed by a second in 1989. A 45 rpm promotional single was available to radio disc jockeys for promo only entitled "Flob-A-Dob-A-Ben". The single was not released for general release and was played often as a novelty record on Radio Trent, in 1987, on the Andy Marriott Television Show. Since the shows were a great success and fondly remembered by many, modern incarnations of the shows Andy Pandy and Flower Pot Men have been produced.

Under British law, copyright of TV programmes lasts for 50 years from the date of first broadcast.[4] As such, surviving episodes first transmitted between 1952 and 1967 are slowly appearing on the Internet Archive.

UK VHS releases (1987–1993)[edit]

VHS title Release date Episodes
Watch with Mother (BBCV 4091) 5 October 1987 Picture Book: Chicks, Andy Pandy: Pram, Flower Pot Men: Seeds, Rag, Tag and Bobtail: Mud Puddle, The Woodentops: Introduction
Watch with Mother 2 (BBCV 4286) 2 October 1989 Picture Book: Bush Baby, Andy Pandy: The Cart, Flower Pot Men: The Potato Man, Rag, Tag and Bobtail: Snowballs, The Woodentops: Horseshoe
Watch with Mother the Next Generation (BBCV 4280) 2 October 1989 Tales of The Riverbank: A Ride in Guineas Jeep, Pogles Wood: Honey Bees, The Herbs: Strawberry Picking, Mary Mungo and Midge: The Crane, Barnaby: The Circus
The Very Best of Watch with Mother (BBCV 4966) 5 April 1993 Andy Pandy: Tricycle, Flower Pot Men: Icicles, Camberwick Green: Mickey Murphy the Baker, Muffin the Mule: Muffin and the Squeaking Shoes, The Woodentops: The Party

See also[edit]

  • For the Children, a television programme for school-age children that ran from 1937.



  1. ^ Burton 1956, p. 307.
  2. ^ a b c d McGown, Alistair, Watch With Mother, BFI Screenonline, retrieved 22 June 2012 
  3. ^ Marcus, Laurence (2005), Complete Watch With Mother / See-Saw Guide 1953 - 1988, Television Heaven, archived from the original on 2009-02-10 
  4. ^ Broadcasts, Intellectual Property Office, archived from the original on 13 March 2012, retrieved 25 June 2012 


  • Burton, Paulu (1956), British Broadcasting; Radio and Television in the United Kingdom, University of Minnesota Press, ISBN 978-0-8166-0127-1 

External links[edit]