What do you see if you turn on Children’s TV Channels these days? To be honest we’re not entirely sure, but we are certain that it won’t be a quality of programming as high as we enjoyed during our childhood.
And there is one memory we can all share after growing up in the UK, it is definitely the love of watching a good TV show.
Whether it was after school in front of the telly waiting for your dinner to be cooked, or on a weekend morning coming downstairs in our PJ’s, we all loved a good TV show.
Children’s television has a long history in Britain, and children have always been at the heart of the BBC’s public service remit.
Before television, Children’s House was first broadcast in 1992.
It was one of the earliest radio programmes and was part of the BBC’s ethos until 1964.
On television, the first programmes made for children began in 1946 after the end of the second World War.
There was a live Sunday afternoon transmission also known as Children’s Hour or ‘For the Children.’
It featured the famous puppet Muffin the Mule and arguable to first presenter of children’s television, Annette Mills.
As a specialist area, children’s television really kicked off in 1950, when dedicated staff were recruited and Freda Lingstrom was appointed as head of the department.
Early programmes included the first children’s variety show, ‘Whirlygig,’ featuring Sooty and Rolf Harris amongst others, and ‘All Your Own,’ which was presented by Huw Weldon.
The BBC is home to some of the most iconic children’s programmes.
Blue Peter is perhaps the longest lived and best known at over 50 years old.
Blue Peter is known for its presenters, its pets, and its ‘make and dos.’
Believe it or not Blue Peter is no longer shown on BBC1, but don’t worry because it is still broadcast on the CBBC channel.
It first aired in 1958 and has the amazing title of being the longest running children’s TV show in the whole big wide world!
Blue Peter was first broadcast (for 15 minutes only) on 16 October 1958, and was originally only supposed to run for 6 weeks.
A housewife called Margaret Parnell sent in the first idea for the ‘here’s one I made earlier’ section way back in 1963, and then spent nearly 40 years devising more than 700 items.
Blue Peter has won 40 awards, including a special award at the TV Baftas in 1998 for ‘outstanding contribution to children’s television’.
In this article we are looking back at some of our favourite childhood CBBC show presenters that brightened our screens back in the day, and we also delve into what on earth they are up to now!
Some of them are still in the business, and you may not have even recognised them. Others however have taken a step back from the spotlight, so it’s only natural to wonder what they’re doing…
1. Zoe Ball
Do you remember when Zoe Ball presented the Broom Cupboard?
Zoe Ball also presented SMart before moving over to Live and Kicking with Jamie Theakston, creating another popular pairing after Andi Peters and Emma Forbes took a back seat.
Live & Kicking was the replacement for Going Live! and continued many of the features such as phone-ins, games, comedy, competitions and cartoons. It was as its most popular during series four when it was presented by Zoë Ball and Jamie Theakston (their final episode won a BAFTA award).
Zoe Ball showed that she was certainly talented and charismatic enough to take over part of the leading presenters of the show!
Zoe Ball’s career went from strength to strength, with further presenting duties The Priory and Top of the Pops, as well as the Radio 1 Breakfast Show.
Nowadays, Ball presents her own radio show on BBC Radio 2, where on a Saturday afternoon she plays an eclectic mix of modern music and feel good hits from the past.
In 2017 Zoe Ball suffered a personal tragedy when her partner of several months sadly took his own life.
2. Jamie Theakston
Jamie Theakston presented Live and Kicking with Zoe Ball, and along with her he won a Bafta for their work over the three series.
Again, he managed to make one half of the Live & Kicking presenting his own, and had a cheeky sense of humour that always came through and tended to get other celebs laughing along.
Theakston’s most recent project is the Sky TV programme Dogs Might Fly – giving dogs a chance to fly is the kind of content I want to see.
He is also one half of the Heart Radio Breakfast show, proving he can be a success away from the cameras.
Theakston married Sophie Siegle in 2007, and they live in West London
3. Josie D’Arby
Josie became a regular CBBC presenter in the 90s.
She also appeared on SMart and had her own show, Josie, on Channel 5.
SMart was based on the subject of art, and ran from 1994 to 2009.
We all remember Josie presenting alongside Otis the Aardvark, the cheeky puppet that some kids loved, and made others wish Gordon the Gopher or Edd the Duck would come back!
Josie went on to host shows such as The Bigger Breakfast and Top of the Pops, and nowadays she’s a presenter on Songs of Praise.
Josie has also written and directed a play in 2012 called The Newport Monologues, and has also worked presenting the current affairs programme Inside Out for which she won a Royal Television Society Award.
4. Chris Jarvis
Back in the day Chris presented in the CBBC ‘broom cupboard’.
Unless your family didn’t own a TV, growing up in the 80s and early 90s in the UK likely meant that you were a big fan of the CBBC Broom Cupboard, it’s presenters, and the amazing TV shows it introduced (‘The Mysterious Cities Of Gold’ anyone?)
Chris presented alongside Zoe Ball and Josie D’arby, then went on to present Fully Booked with Tim Vincent and Gail Porter for several years.
He has now moved into the panto industry, appearing in a pantomime every year since 1995, and has appeared in everything from Peter Pan to Jack and The Beanstalk.
He also regularly presents Show Me Show Me on the CBeebies channel, and if you have children of your own then you may agree with me that it’s absolutely brilliant.
Show Me Show Me is the spiritual successor to Play School, featuring cuddly toys, songs and plenty of learning.
If you have kids be sure to check it out, and it you don’t have kids then why not watch it anyway!
5. Dominic Wood (Dom)
This familiar face hosted Dick and Dom in Da Bungalow alongside Richard McCourt.
Dick and Dom earned a name for themselves taking their humour one more level than other kids presenters had ever really dared to do, often encouraging kids to do extremely silly things.
The dynamic duo recently went on tour with their show Dick and Dom Live.
The pair seem pretty inseparable, appearing in pretty much everything together, as you would expect.
6. Richard McCourt (Dick)
Dick was actually CBBC host in 1996 before joining up with Dom in 2002.
Again, he was part of the hilarious pairing that would encourage kids to do silly things. Everyone together, now…. “BOGIES!!”
Dick is actually the godfather to Dom’s two sons, Tommy and Sam.
Dick and Dom also appeared in the 2011 Horrid Henry movie as 2 Cool 4 School presenters.
7. Kirsten O’Brien
Kirsten O’Brien presented the show from 1996 alongside Otis the Aardvark, and also presented on the art show SMart.
Kirsten went on to appear on and present a number of other kids’ shows for several years after this, and was also presenting on BBC Radio 7’s Little Toe Radio Show.
O’Brien has become the voice of Sky 1 and even does occasional stand up comedy.
She is also (just like me, in fact), a keen Middlesbrough FC supporter as they are her home town team, and she has been involved in charity work with the club over the years also.
O’Brien is married to Mark Drake with whom she has 3 children.
8. Adrian Dickson
From 2000 to 2005 Adrian Dickson was one of the main CBBC hosts.
He is South African born, but found fame on British TV and Radio.
Dickson now works in production for TV, and is a part of a puppet company called Planet Pumpkin.
Dickson also reports for Fox TV stations, and he is the UK bureau chief for the US channel Reelz Channel.
9. Angellica Bell
After joining CBBC in 2000, Angellica Bell worked on That’s Genius!, Xchange, 50/50, and Short Change.
Bell also presented Eastenders Xtra and the CBBC channel’s The Saturday Show.
Bell competed on 2017’s Celebrity Masterchef.
She has also appeared in many programmes since, and was one of the presenters on The One Show, appeared on Tipping Point: Lucky Stars and The Chase: Celebrity Special, and in 2016 she took part in a Sports Relief challenge called ‘Hell on High Seas’.
Bell is married to her former BBC co-star Michael Underwood with whom she has 2 children; Elijah Joseph Underwood born in 2011 and Keziah Mae Underwood born in 2013.
10. Sarah Cawood
Sarah Cawood also presented the show Live and Kicking.
She was also seen as a presenter on Top of The Pops and appeared as a panelist on Blankety Blank.
In 2008 Cawood completed Olivia Newton John’s Walk to Beijing as part of the British team.
Nowadays, she’s taking a break from TV, and instead she’s focusing on her blog about being a mum to her two kids, Hunter and Autumn.
11. Jake Humphrey
Jake Humphrey was initially working as a runner in TV before becoming a CBBC presenter.
He also presented Rule the School and hosted the CBBC’s coverage of Fame Academy alongside Holly Willoughby.
In 2006 he moved into sports presenting, and presented F1: Live London in 2017.
He has also presented many sports and on many different stations from BBC to BT Sport.
He’s also presented a couple of episodes of This Morning, and is the patron of young person’s charity The Break.
Humphrey married his childhood sweetheart, Harriet, in 2007. Their daughter, Florence Aurelia Alice Humphrey, was born in 2013, and they also have a son, Sebastian Alexander James, who was born in 2015.
12. Andrew Hayden-Smith
Andrew started out his career playing Ben Carter in Byker Grove before he went on to present Live and Kicking.
Whilst presenting he also won 63% of the votes from the viewers to be gunged live on air.
He currently plays police officer DS Gavin Armstrong in popular TV soap Hollyoaks.
He is also a regular continuity announcer on ITV2 and has done some various roles in voice over work.
13. Ortis Deley
Ortis presented Short Change, Xchange and Live and Kicking for CBBC.
He also appeared in a number of other projects, including being a panelist on Lily Savage’s Blankety Blank.
He is currently a presenter on The Gadget Show.
Otis has also made appearances in several bigger name projects over the years, even appearing on the silver screen in films such as Kidulthood and the Jennifer Aniston and Clive Owen movie, Derailed.
In 2011 Deley presented Channel 4’s live coverage of the IAAF World Athletics Championships in South Korea, but he struggled to win over the audience, with many viewers complaining about his stilted delivery, reliance on notes, and the fact that he regularly mixed his colleagues’ names!
14. Fearne Cotton
Fearne presented Eureka TV, Finger Tips, Smile and The Saturday Show on CBBC.
Cotton has been presenting since she was 15, so has plenty of experience in front of the kids’ TV cameras.
Cotton hosted a Radio 1 show until 2015, which she left to give birth to her second child, Honey.
She also published a book this year called Happy, which touches on her struggle with depression.
Cotton has also stood in as presenter on Radio 2 a number of times between 2016 and 2018, so continues to hit the airwaves regularly.
After more than 4,000 complaints made about the BBC’s coverage of the Diamond Jubilee in the 2012, particularly pointing the finger at Cotton’s role, she responded (on Twitter) by writing, “Grown men who slag me off in articles/online are huge bullies. I love my job and wouldn’t be doing it if I wasn’t any good at it…I’m from a working-class family and have worked hard to get to where I am today. Others will just sit and do nothing but judge.”
Do you remember all of these faces from Kids’ TV, or do you know them more for them more recent work? Which Children’s TV show was your favourite? Who was your favourite presenter? And did we miss any? Be sure to share this post with your fellow 80s kids, so they to can take a nostalgic look back at the quality TV shows of our childhood!