July 11, 1950 on UK TV: Andy Pandy

Andy Pandy is a British children’s television series that premiered on BBC TV in 1950, on 11 July, as part of the For the Children strand (later Watch with Mother) narrated by Vera McKechnie. Initially the programmes were transmitted live, but it was realised that if the programmes were filmed, they could be repeated. Twenty-six episodes of fifteen minutes duration were filmed on 16mm, and were produced around 1952; they were repeated continuously until 1970. This version had narration by Maria Bird. In one episode Andy Pandy sees how high he can go on a swing, an episode featured in the 1987 compilation by BBC Video. Under the umbrella title Watch With Mother as well as the Andy Pandy episodes, there were also The Woodentops, ‘Bill and Ben’, all having a similar format-filmed marionettes, there was also an animated drawn character called ‘Busy Lizzy’ incorporated into the Picture book series. All the filmed black and white 1950s original transmissions were narrated by Maria Bird, who was to become a co-producer, with Freda Lingstrom, who worked for the BBC. Bird was a prolific writer of books for the very young, notably Andy Pandy, but it was for her distinct ‘BBC English’ enunciation that she is best remembered.

A marionette who lived in a picnic basket, Andy was later joined by Teddy, a teddy bear, and Looby Loo, a rag doll, who would appear/come to life when Andy and Teddy weren’t around. Looby Loo had her own special song “Here we go Looby Loo”. All three lived in the same picnic basket. Each episode ended with a variation on the song: “Time to go home, Time to go home, Andy is waving goodbye.”

It is claimed that the design for the character was based on Paul Atterbury (now an antiques expert on BBC’s Antiques Roadshow), the then young son of puppeteer Audrey Atterbury. [Wikipedia]

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