Bewitched (Board Game)

This is not about the 1960s American TV series about, or the Irish girl group. This is actually about the board game that you probably won’t recall.

In truth when it comes to the actual gameplay I don’t recall all that much detail. But there were witches hats and I think the playing pieces were frogs.

So instead of detailing this board game and what I thought of it. For this Halloween I would like instead to share with you a cautionary tale of sneaking and assumptions.

The board game’s game board.

The truth is that I can remember playing this game with my cousins. It’s fair to say that it’s probably a game that was aiming towards a more female player. Remember this was the early 90s and there were girls toys and boys toys and we were cool with that.

But this was a game that I ended up receiving for a birthday. Its quite possible that I really enjoyed playing it at the time but I don’t think it was the most sought after boardgames and I would imagine that I would remember more than I do if it had been.

However, I did it get as a gift and I was really pleased. Because when I was about 7 or 8 I had known that I would be getting it for my birthday.

This was not some childhood mystic hocus pocus. I was snooping in my mums wardrobe and saw the game in there. Of course that was my present I knew it.

I remember what happened next vividly. I can even remember where I was when the following conversation occurred.

My mum asked if there was anything anything that I wanted for my birthday and my response was an excited ‘Bewitched’. No suspicion from my mum, she just asked if there was anything rlse I wanted ‘Just Bewitched’ was my response.

Of course she must have known that I had seen something in somewhere I shouldn’t but in my child’s mind non of this was obvious. I was literally like the child with his hand in the biscuit tin, all innocent yet caught red handed.

A little frog spell book.

Now looking back almost 30 years ago (yikes!) I suspect that the game probably wasn’t even intended for me and was probably actually a gift given to my mum by a relative because witchy things are very much her thing.

Not calling my mother a witch or anything. Anyway, moral of this story is don’t sneak a peek, or don’t make it obvious you have. Or maybe don’t share such a personal story with the Internet and expect it to be interested. I don’t which maybe there are no morals at all.

The ITV Chart Show

In many ways this was ITV’s answer to top of the pops or perhaps a way of capturing the MTV experience in an hour on Saturday Mornings.

The programme featured music videos from the various chart toppers if the week. There was on screen information alongside which when I was younger only the animations were of interest but as I grew older the information contained within was somewhat of interest.

The on screen graphics and information from the mid-90s straight from an Amiga computer.

The programme was a constant throughout my childhood as my Dad was a big music fan and missing it was probably unthinkable. Even as I got older and watched Live and Kicking it was rare I ever got to see the phone-in at the end of the programme.

The chart show is the kind of programme I would probably appreciate more now than I did then only with the same songs they used to play. As a child music was not so important to me, least of all chart music.

As well as the main singles chart – it was the Saturday Chart and therefore often differed from the main chart on Sunday, there were other charts like the Indie Chart and Album Chart.

The graphics would often change but the format was stellar. Top of the Pops 2 owes a lot to the programme. Eventually it was Ant and Dec and a live music programme, CD:UK that would see the programme end.

Just incase you couldn’t tell with the Twix logo all over the title sequence.

Bonus points for the well integrated Twix sponsorship at the start.

Poddington Peas

CBBC 1989

Down at the bottom of the garden, amongst the birds and the bees, a little lot of little people, they call the Poddington Peas. What more can I say?

The Poddington Peas was another one of those short little animations that probably only ran for one series but was repeated ad-nauseum on CBBC, typically at lunchtime on BBC2. The theme tune (my opening paragraph is the first verse) though was brilliant.

Character wise it was one of those typical give a pun-based descriptive name and a personality to match. Black-eyed Pea, Creepy and Dumpy (those last two probably spelt Cree-pea Dumbpea – and yes those that remember it isn’t the correct order they were sung in!). You can already tell what kind of characters they were like.

Go on, bet you can’t guess his name…

Also in common with a lot of these smaller animations the characters didn’t speak for themselves. The show was narrated by Neil Pearson while the characters made elastic band-style noises in the background.

From what I recall the peas loved out a human-style life amongst human scale garden implements (like tools and plant pots). Cree-pea was the mischief maker but there wasn’t much peril because this was a cartoon aimed at a preschool audience.

In truth thats the most I remember despite the fact that I probably saw each episode at least five times, it’s the theme tune that sticks in the head and still is currently on a loop.

It turns out that the shows creators attempted to produce a second, expanded series in the early 1990s but the project fell through. Then again within the last decade an attempt at a remake in 3D cgi was made but it turns out the BBC still own the copyright, although as with most of these short cartoons it was produced independently.

Just included for completeness. No idea what his dog could be called…

Stoppit and Tidy Up

CBBC 1988

For years there were lots of little animations that ran on CBBC, usually for one short series but repeated constantly. The one I personally remember best was Stopping and Tidy Up.

You could argue that it had an underlying good message about waste, it even ended with the Keep Britain Tidy logo. In reality though it was just a load of bonkersness – a new word I invented.

Tidy Up doing a spot of Gherkin Gardening.

Tidy Up was generally the more sensible of the two. He loved his gherkins and spent time growing them in his garden. Stoppit meanwhile was smaller and more annoying, always causing mischief for poor Tidy Up. He lived in a rubbish dump.

They lived in the land of Do As Your Told and each of the episodes focused on a different character alongside Stoppit and Tidyup. Each had a name typically associated with phrases that parents would typically shout towards their kids.

There was Comb Your Hair, Wash Your Face, Hurry Up, Go and Play (with his favourite toy), Calm Down and Not Now. The two bees – Bee-habe and Bee-quiet. Go to Bed, Don’t Do That, Eat Your Greens, Clean Your Teeth and the big bad I Said No! Introducing the characters took up a full minute of each five minute episode.

The whole thing was narrated by Terry Wogan who was very much the star of television at the time. His job was to tell the story as all the other characters didn’t speak and only made noises. Terry did so brilliantly with parental tones but his own distinct style.

Can’t imagine who they styled Clean Your Teeth on.

Tidyup had a distinct shout complete with very wide open mouth which probably was the main draw for me – don’t forget I was only a toddler the first time I saw it and things like that tend to appeal.

The series was animated by Charles Mills and Terry Brain who were also responsible for the more widely remembered Trapdoor on ITV. That was animated using clay models yet it’s easy to see the similarities in character design.

The techniques used to animate both series were revealed on a certain disgraced TV presenters Cartoon Club series. It was fascinating to see how one of my favourite childhood series was actually made.

Wacaday

Timmy Mallet thought everything was Utterly Utterly Brilliant and that’s what sold Wacaday to the kids. That and the bright colours he wore, his wacky glasses and giant pink and yellow mallet, Mallet’s Mallet.

As well as Timmy Mallet as the host, I remember him being joined by Micheala Strachen during one run and Magic the budgie who flew around in a cage at the back of the studio – in later years a miniature camera was put in the cage for Timmy to throw to.

Literally Timmy would speak to the bird as if he was a full co-presenter, cutting to Magic-cam for reactions. In later years it got even more bonkers when Pinky Punky was introduced – a mini Mallet with a face but no moving parts (beyond being wiggled about the screen).

Timmy Mallet possibly the definition of an ovet-enthusiastic children’s TV presenter.

To top it Pinky was voiced by timmy so he was literally interacting with himself! Pinky’s favourite line was ‘Mr. Mallet, Mr. Mallet, can I go to the toilet…?’ at which point, well you can imagine.

It was bonkers and not the kind of TV show that you could pitch now, or then. Which makes sense as the entire show grew around Timmy’s zany personality.

Wacaday filled a bit of TV-am’s air time during school holidays. Filled with cheap import cartoons, film inserts and the word game Mallet’s Mallet at the end, more of that in a moment.

The film inserts were genuinely informative, although dont ask me to remember much of them – I was young so forgive me. I do remember Manneken Pis during a visit to Belgium and Pinky Punky, erm, joining in.

As zany and silly as the whole thing was Timmy took his job seriously, the film inserts were very serious. I saw a clip from South Africa (many years later) and geniunly one of the best explanations of Aparthied I’ve ever heard.

Timmy took his job seriously, but not too seriously. The end game Mallet’s Mallet involved two children playing a word association game. If they stumbled or hesitated they got booked on the head with the big mallet.

Finally, I was once hit on the head with Mallet’s Mallet, not on TV but at the stage door of a theatre where Timmy was on tour and meeting fans. I remember being surprised that had stubble on his face.

Mad Lizzie

Preschool Ben has many happy memories of getting up and joining in with Mad Lizzie. That’s how she was always known. The fitness person on TV-am who wasn’t really massively mad beyond being eternally happy.

Her workouts were simple and fun and I think that is my overriding memory. Getting up off the sofa early in the morning with my Mum and joining in with this overly cheerful lad and some minor pop act that had been pushed on to join in.

She was fun and bright and never really stopped smiling. When TV-am went off air so did she, for a bit. Then she had a go a pre-school children’s fitness show which I never saw as by then I was an in-schooler.

She could certainly pose!

A couple of years ago she appeared on Loose Women. Not really looking any different and yep still smiling.

Cereal Freebies

The notion of little gifts in cereal packets predates my existence by decades and by the time I was exiting my childhood such things were becoming a rarity and I’m talking about the little toys and gifts actually in the cereal.

Obviously far from amazing but as a kid finding the freebie in your Coco-Pops livened your breakfast. Although I know there was plenty I don’t remember many of the items I got and there is a good reason for that…

Most of the gifts were just cheap and cheerful plastic tat. Junk that ended up mixed up with all my other little bits of plastic like happy meal toys.

There are a couple I remember. Firstly the Kellogg’s rooster reflectors. I’ll have you know his name is Cornealious. Bike reflectors were a thing in the 1980s apparently.

Nobody ever admitted to liking Rasin Splitz, nobody ever admitted to liking Telly Addicts either.

I didn’t get a bike until the mid nineties so mine just sat with the other tat until I finally got a bike and yes – attached them to the spokes, like the most out of date child there could be.

The other freebie that sticks in my mind was probably not given away inside boxes but rather by collecting tokens which became the main way to get free gifts as putting plastic toys in cereal became seen as either unsanitary or a choking hazard depending who you ask.

Rasin Splitz were giving away Telly Addicts game cards. They were quiz cards about television based on the Noel Edmonds show of the day.

There were four from memory and I think I had them all. I’m not sure why they came into my possession as I was too young to be able to really play them game, they would have been better being stored with the board games.

There was a junior pack (the red one) I could probably just about stumble around the answers but it was a bit above my head.

It was about ten years later when I rediscovered them hidden amongst some old toys – by now gathering far too much info about old TV programmes that I started to be able to answer them. A few decades on I reckon I’d probably know most of the answers, which is really really sad.

The Krypton Factor

I remember loving The Krypton Factor when I was a kid. The show was about finding the fittest and smartest person, or Super Person of the Year in host Gordon Burns’ own words.

There were four contestants who each wore their own clothes but in their ‘team’ colour. There were several rounds each designed to test a certain strength.

The opening round as I remember it was an assault course, it wasn’t glamorous but it looked like it would be huge fun. The female contestants always had a slight head start to keep it balanced. In particular the ‘s’ bend sticks in my mind because it was a series of twists created from wooden logs and looked claustrophobic.

Getting wet tackling the assault course

There was an observation round where there would be a short scene, sometimes this was be an ongoing drama. There would be an intelligence test, usually some sort of physical puzzle.

The show would end with a general knowledge round, the answers of which would lead into the following question. This was something lost on me when I saw the series originally but I picked up on it when the series was repeated years later on Freeview channel Ftn.

The highlight was the semi-finals which saw an aircraft simulator which at the time was very exciting but I imagine would look a bit laughable now. I’m fairly certain there were a fair few crashes.

I loved the show as a kid even if I didnt fully understand it. As a child I could easily work out the puzzles and cheer on an obstacle course.

Nice try, but no.

The whole show was relaunched in the mid nineties and was nowhere as good. No surprise that after one series it was axed. ITV attempted a revival in the 2000s but it didn’t really work or feel as good as the original, it was all a bit generic.

Smiths Chipsticks

You either loved these or loaved these. These small corny sticks that looked like chips and a packaging design that didn’t change for decades. I was a fan of the ready salted variety, no longer on the market unlike the other variety Salt and Vinegar.

They were somewhat greasy and totally unhealthy and tasted all the better for it. I was always pleased to see them in my lunchbox at school – kids today would definitely not be allowed these in school!

I have one weird memory from the packaging, at some point Walkers took over Smiths and plaster a huge copyright notice on the back but for some reason the date was not updated for years and still said 1995 and I can recall a friend at school trying to convince me they were out of date.

Blockbusters

I was a bit young to fully enjoy Blockbuster. I would have struggled to answer a question like “What ‘O’ is the generic word for any living animal or plant, including bacteria and viruses?”.

That question was answered incorrectly with “Orgasm” during a famous outtake, that cheeky sense of humour ran throughout and then there was the host, Bob Holness. His response to the above was to cooly but knowingly say “There are reasons I can’t accept that particular answer”.

A grey haired headmaster-type seems an unusual choice of host for a show that was only one place above a children’s programme. The contestants were sixth-formers. But Bob made for the perfect host.

The gameplay was simple. There was a board with yellow hexagons with letters on which would be the first letter of the answer.

The winner of each game would go through to the Gold Run which had more complicated answers. As a kid I was always hoping the contestant wouldn’t complete the Gold Run so I could hear the (suitable) bad luck music.

There was even a boardgame brought out, which in pre-technology days used bits of cardboard and plastic to recreate the game board. Imagine my excitement when about ten years later (long after the series bit the dust) I got to play it!.

When the series ended in the early 90s it was much missed, not just by me, when BBC2 relaunched it I remember tuning in. Now hosted by Micheal Aspel and with adult contestants it was boring which proves that such a simple format needed the right host to be successful.

I’ll have a P please Bob.

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