Maybe because it’s the summer holidays and they need more shows to entertain the kids while they’re off school, but ITV have been re-running a load of old dramas from my childhood, bringing me a lot of pleasure in recent months.
Programmes like The Worst Witch, pretty much my favourite when I was about eleven, My Parents are Aliens and Bernard’s Watch, then The New Worst Witch, which arrived a while later, have all been, or are currently being re-shown on the CITV Channel.
Watching back these old gems, as well as giving me a lovely sense of nostalgia makes me realise several things.
CITV used to be so good. Take The Worst Witch for example. It’s all such fun. The acting, by the majority of the child stars, is a bit on the wooden side and the special effects are comical. The broomstick flying is wobbly and the ‘magic’ is…well…it’s definitely nothing to rival Harry Potter, let’s put it that way.
But then, it was made way back in 1998 and at a fraction of the HP budget, so what can we expect? It’s really all quite charming.
Seeing these shows made me ask: what an earth has happened to CITV? It’s such a shame that ITV has so neglected its children’s programming, especially its drama. Ditching kids’ tv from the main channel and shoving it all into CITV where no one much sees it have made them lazy. It’s no longer live and they don’t even have a presenter any more.
Besides a few rubbishy new cartoon series and the odd decent magic show fronted by Stephen Mulhern, CITV has little to offer other than endless Horrid Henry reruns and now repeats of The Worst Witch and similar. Without these golden oldies the channel would have no drama at all, which is a shame, as it used to have lots.
CBBC on the other hand is doing a fine job commissioning new dramas of all sorts, all the time. Yup. ITV has given up on its kids.
This is a shame, not only for its viewers but because it used to be such a good platform for home-grown young talent.
I’d forgotten how many familiar faces from today’s tv shows first got their big break appearing in CITV dramas.
The Worst Witch stars Felicity Jones as Ethel Hallow in the first series and Jessica Fox as Enid Nightshade. Unlike some of the others these girls were good. Felicity Jones has since starred in Northanger Abbey, Brideshead Revisited and even the movie, Cemetery Junction. Jessica Fox has been starring in Hollyoaks (ok, it’s not quite hollyWOOD but still) for a number of years now.
In The New Worst Witch, Alice Connor played Hettie and Annabel Barnston, Hettie’s friend Mona. Since then Connor has starred in movie, The Thief Lord and Barnston in popular new comedy Coming of Age. Obviously there are plenty of others too.
Ten years ago CITV was thriving, discovering new talent and providing children (like me) with great drama to entertain and inspire imagination. So what went wrong?
I’m really not sure. It’s probably down to budget like everything else. But it’s not cool. I think it’s time to shape up CITV or face a bleak future.