1985-1992 | 1992-2000 | Interviews | Handout Shots | Presenters

January 1993 saw a reworking of Children's BBC at the weekends. The slot was renamed The Children's BBC Breakfast Show and was given a bespoke ident and even it's own modified broom cupboard set.

The new look Breakfast Show was presented by Toby Anstis. Programmes included repeats of ChuckleVision and The Racoons, while features included Philippa Forrester's Wincey Willis-inspired weather forecaster character and a regular competition called 'Heart Of The Platter' in which the prize was a plate of plastic fried breakfast!

During this time, Andi Peters continued to present in the afternoons with Edd the Duck, though Wilson the Butler departed in Autumn 1992. Over the coming months, Andi's preoccupation with tank tops gathered momentum, culminating in the launch of National Tank Top Day! Andi encouraged viewers to wear a tank top on a given afternoon and even managed to get several familiar BBC names involved - including Terry Wogan and the whole Blue Peter team!

Introduced in 1992, this ident introduced the Children's BBC Breakfast Show on Saturday mornings.
The final resolve of the Children's BBC Breakfast Show ident, 1992. .

Philippa hosts another edition of Maggot Moments - revamped for the season with a summer themeAndi introduces viewers to his producer on National Tank Top Day.  As you can see, everyone was required to dress accordingly!Andi and Edd open National Tank Top Day from the Pres A skyline set

Zoe Ball presenting Children's BBC in summer 1993The O Zone continued to be a regular Children's BBC strand throughout the 1990sThe Children's BBC team perform a Grease tribute for the Summer 1993 Holiday Mornings trail.Philippa takes the lead as Sandy.

The BBC1 summer morning schedule was again handed over to Children's BBC for 1993. After six years, the BFT name was dropped. The links came from the cityscape set in Presentation A, which had been introduced the year before, along with a new exterior set following an American 'Route 66' theme. This roof top set featured inflatable cadillacs, giant cacti, palm trees and a winding road. Popular phone-in game Maggot Moments returned, this time with beach-themed graphics. Viewers were also invited to send in postcards from their holiday locations to be pinned onto a giant map.

The summer 1993 links followed largely the same format as previous years. Philippa and Toby were joined by a new presenter, Zoe Ball, a former researcher on Channel 4's The Big Breakfast and the daughter of veteran children's TV host Johnny Ball.

In keeping with the American theme of the set, a specially filmed trailer was staged to promote this season's holiday mornings. Inspired by the musical Grease, Philippa and Toby took on the roles of Sandy and Danny, with Zoe and Andi providing the backing vocals. Even Edd the Duck popped up!

Meanwhile, in the afternoons during summer 1993, Andi and Edd took full advantage of the good weather by presenting each Wednesday afternoon from the roof of Television Centre. These links were introduced from a special exterior Broom Cupboard set, bedecked with foliage.

Andi and Edd spent much of the summer tracking down artists that had sung the theme tunes to many of Children's BBC's most popular programmes. Letters from viewers encouraged the pair to invite the singers in to the Broom Cupboard to perform these theme tunes live. Several duly obliged and viewers were treated to live renditions of The Legend of Prince Valiant and Tales of the Tooth Fairies themes. As with many successful Children's BBC items, this was repeated a couple of years later when Toby Anstis held 'Musical Fix It Day'.

Also during 1993, Edd the Duck introduced his own puppet! In a somewhat ironic move, Edd became the pupeteer of Tedd - a small squaking teddy bear. As with many of the previous peripharal Broom Cupboard characters, Tedd began receiving post from viewers with pictures and even minature jumpers being sent in!

## Edd leaves? Edd's last day? Did he have one? Check with Mark Wilson

Andi and Edd hosted each Wednesday afternoon during Summer 1993 from a rooftop Broom Cupboard set.Edd becomes the puppeteer as he introduces his 'Tedd' character.

Andi Peters left Children's BBC on 3rd September 1993. His last day was notable in that the links included a look behind the scenes of the presentation department. Viewers saw the NC1 and NC2 galleries and the main camera view in the broom cupboard was supplemented by a reverse angle.

A big surprise during Andi's final link was the unexpected substitution of a trailer for Parallel 9, the independently-produced summer Saturday morning programme, with a broom cupboard clip from two years previously, in which he and Edd wore their Des Lynam tribute wigs! Toby, who was to take over the afternoon mantle, joined Andi for the final link, presenting him with his favourite cake - a battenberg!

Because the Broom Cupboard set was actually the BBC 1 continuity area, it was usual for the Broom Cupboard presenter to link into Neighbours - the first programme after Children's BBC - usually out of vison, over the iconic BBC 1 globe. This avoided the complications of a quick change from the children's presenter to the duty continuity announcer. For Andi's last Neighbours link however, he appeared in vision alongside Toby offering advice on how to approach this regular junction. He decided "Sometimes try to be funny, Sometimes try to be clever. But if you can't be clever just say This is BBC 1!"

Andi introduces viewers to the team in the gallery.

Andi shows viewers what he sees in the Broom Cupboard

This still shows viewer XXXX's dad as sent in to the lookalikie competition.  XXXX felt his dad was a dead ringer for BBC weather forecaster Michael Fish!An address caption from Autumn 1993.  The stylised letters S, H, N and I were used as an early example of branding.In a nod to the laid-back feel of the programme Toby settles down with some tea and cake to watch Jackanory

Toby's arrival as the new afternoon presenter was augmented by a revised broom cupboard set, and new on screen graphics. These were rolled out in trails, slides and also appeared as physical manifestations in the broom cupboard itself. They featured animated, stylised versions of the letters H, I, N and S from the Children's BBC ident who eventually became characters in their own right, with Toby dubbing the letter I as Percy! Percy generated a large amount of correspondence from viewers and was eventually given away in a competition!

Toby's first big feature during his stint in the Broom Cupboard was his "Lookalikies" competition - where viewers were invited to send in photographs of friends and family who bore a resemblance to a celebrity. The Children's BBC office were inundated with photographs, and the competition ran for much of the Autumn. The range of lookalikies being suggested was very diverse - with family members posing as stars from Michael Fish to Mr Blobby!

The long-running story telling series Jackanory returned to Children's BBC in Autumn 1993 and this was treated with due reverence by Toby, who would encourage viewers to sit down and relax in front of the show, with tea and cake!

A new addition to the schedule at this time was the acquired cartoon Moomin, based on the books by Finnish author Tove Jansson. The series quickly caught on, with Children's BBC launching a weekly Moomin competition, the prizes in which were much sought-after toys specially flown over from Finland! The popularity that ensued was referred to as Moomin Mania and generated a huge amount of correspondence from viewers.

Animated in vision menus were introduced in Autumn 1993 to showcase the programming line-upToby links into the next programme, with the help of PercyToby celebrates Blue Peter's 35th anniversaryAnt McPartlin, then playing PJ in Children's BBC drama Byker Grove, drops into the Broom Cupboard for a chat with Toby

The Presentation A set was redesigned in Autumn 1993 and given an outer space theme. This was now the home of Sunday morning links, as well as the weekday morning birthday slot and any weekday afternoons where the service was broadcast on BBC2. Together with this new set, a new presenter was introduced at this time - Chris Jarvis. This Essex-born former radio DJ stayed for several years, and indeed remains involved today as a presenter on pre-school channel CBeebies. Chris' skills as a comedy writer and actor led to the creation of many characters during this initial tenure.

The first such character was obsessive Children's BBC fan, The Anorak; a smelly, ageing train spotter who would regularly drop into the Broom Cupboard to plague Toby. The game Beat the Anorak emerged, in which he would compete against a viewer at home in answering questions about CBBC programmes in order to win a Spotting Jotter. The game also led to somewhat of a catchphrase for the Anorak - "I know". Such was The Anorak's ubiquity over the next year or so, he was eventually even given his own publicity handout shot!

Beginning in September 1993, Andi Peters' Saturday morning programme Live and Kicking had introduced viewers to Ratz, a CGI cat character, whose facial expressions were captured live by actor Paul Brophy. Ratz was cutting edge technology and, presumably to justify the expense, the character also appeared in Children's BBC links - usually on Sunday mornings with Philippa and occasionally in the afternoons for the next few months. At Christmas 1993 he was also given his own phone in game - Rat Run.

Chris Jarvis introduces Maggot moments in the Presentation A space setChris Jarvis began by presenting the pre-recorded lunchtime links that were introduced around this time, taking over from the established 'See Saw' slot on BBC Two.

Popstar CJ Lewis joins Toby in the revamped Broom Cupboard, designed by a Children's BBC viewer.Rat Run was Ratz's own phone in computer game where viewers guided him round a maze, set in the basement of TV CentreRatz made occasional appearances with Toby in the Broom Cupboard, usually during school holiday periods.  As this frame shows, a larger monitor had to be installed to allow Ratz to have a prominent onscreen presence!

In 1994, Children's BBC experimented using CSO techniques to play pop videos into the Broom Cupboard during interviews.Introduced in 1994, Toby presents from the final Broom Cupboard set.  Upon the move to Pres A, this set was left in place for some time in case of emergency

The beginning of 1994 was marked with one of Children's BBC most ambitious competitions to date. Viewers were given the chance to design a brand new Broom Cupboard set which would be built and used permanently. The winning design centred around a giant fist punching a hole in the wall. The new set was unveiled in ???, but in the end would actually only be used for several WEEKS/MONTHS. On the new set being unveiled, no explanation was given as to why the fist was replaced by a rather limp looking foot!

The Summer 1994 links came entirely from another rooftop set, this year boasting the most ambitious construction to date. The new design would last two summers and was based on a castaway theme, loosely dubbed the "Holiday Island". The spacious set featured a cave, bridge, beach hut and a rotating platform. This set was used for two summers, and left standing on the TC4 roof in the meantime. It was later discovered the weight of the set was too great for the roof it was standing on and had to be taken down immediately!

For Summer 1994 Philippa, Zoe and Chris were joined by a new host - actress and RADA student, Josie D'Arby.

Josie had something of a holiday romance during her first summer on the island. She fell in love with another of Chris Jarvis' comedy characters, Carlos Tombolas. Carlos was clearly bad news, though Josie couldn't see it. Normally only seen as a hand in the corner of the screen, in a fashion not dissimilar to that of Wilson the Butler, Carlos was jailed by the end of the summer, albeit after borrowing plenty of money from Josie! Carlos would eventually return for Josie's last day in 1997, where she finally told him where to go!

## At the end of July 1994 Philippa left Children's BBC. More info on her last day?


Philippa is presented with a large cake on her last day, July 1994.Programme credits were now squeezed to allow for longer junctionsGuests became even more common during the early part of the Pres A era.  Here an EastEnders actress discusses her role in the programme and answers viewer questionsThe Presentation A set had a number of different areas with handheld cameras allowing greater flexibility and movement

At the end of the summer, Children's BBC moved back indoors, but not back into the Broom Cupboard. After nine years in NC1, thd Children's BBC links moved lock, stock and barrel to down the corridor to Presentation A, where a new set had been constructed. The last existing Broom Cupboard set was left standing in NC1, in case of technical breakdown, but was never used again. The new set included two Broom Cupboard-inspired desk areas as well as a video wall, fireman's pole and sofa area.

One element of the old order remained, however, with a small vision mixer being included on one of the desk areas, to allow the presenter of the morning birthday slot to select overhead close-ups of the birthday card being featured.

During the first weeks in Presentation A, the long running Children's BBC series Take Two, now fronted by former Newsround host Juiliet Morris, included a behind the scenes report on the new look. In this item, Toby explained that research had shown viewers wanted a bigger set and more guests, all of which the new look would enable. Indeed the coming months saw a flurry of visitors to the new set - everyone from members of the EastEndersto cast to movie star Leslie Neilsen!

A new ident was also introduced at this time, designed by graphic design firm Lambie Nairn which saw the existing Children's BBC logo recreated in 3D. For the first time, a series of supplementary idents were also created to sit alongside this main logo. Pink cows, robot dogs and rockets were just three of the themes which were created from a mix of media including from plasticine, 3d models and 2d animation. This series of idents was added to over the next three years with around 30 idents being created in all.

A new, earlier, start time was introduced at this point. Having traditionally begun at 3.50pm (4.10pm in summer) for many years, Children's BBC now began at 3.30pm. This allowed for the broadcast of more programmes for younger children earlier in this afternoon, repeats of Playdays being a notable early airing in the newly created slot.

Children's BBC also took advantage of the emergence of the internet by introducing an e-mail address at this point.


A more colourful, 3D, interpretation of the Children's BBC ident was introduced in September 1994.

Otis the Aardvark's first appearance, Autumn 1994.  The Chuckle Brothers spot him from the other side of the studio!Chris Jarvis shows off the new email address, is a somewhat old-fashioned manner!The new animations used a range of 3d and 2d animation styles - some created on computer, with others more traditional

Otis and Chris Jarvis look at some competition winners.  The original Otis puppet was very heavy and was completely redesigned within months

To complete the new look the decision was taken to introduce a new puppet character in the Autumn of 1994. This was done gradually over a number of weeks with Toby Anstis finding a series of clues, including an ant farm and a t-shirt bearing the legend ANT, before the Chuckle Brothers, in as guests one afternoon, actually spotted Otis for the first time.

Otis the Aardvark was a much larger puppet than those that had preceded him. The puppet was designed to stand in the front of camera shots, as opposed to behind a desk as had been necessary previously. At first Otis didn't speak, rather he grunted in his first appearances. After several days, and in what appeared to be an about turn, the character began to speak, revealing he had had a cold recently! Within months Otis' voice became higher and quicker and the initial, somewhat threadbare puppet was soon replaced by a much more appealing version.

From this time, Toby began taking more time off to fulfill other presenting engagements, such as the BBC school's programme Le Club. Zoe, Josie and Chris began making more regular appearances in the afternoon from this point.

d.o.g.? - just in pics?

As Toby became busier with projects such as Le Club, the other presenters made more regular appearances in the afternoons.  Here, Chris Jarvis hosts.Zoe Ball made regular appearances in the afternoons until her departure in early 1995

more 94/95 features.. watch bp tapes.

In early 1995, Simeon Courtie was introduced to UK viewers. Simeon had joined Children's BBC at the very start of the year to host the newly introduced Children's BBC on Prime service. These pre-recorded links were aired across Europe on the BBC's new satellite subscription channel BBC Prime, and were generally much shorter than UK links.

Sim embraced the mid 90s trend of bright, primary coloured shirts and over his 18 months at CBBC presented regularly in the afternoons and holiday mornings. He also became the first presenter of the weekday Breakfast Show. Introduced in Autumn 1995, the shift of political programming from the BBC 2 morning schedule allowed for a regular weekday breakfast slot to be introduced, under the Children's BBC banner. In the first few weeks Simeon invited viewers to design a new computer game and create their own breakfast cereal.

A serial of another sort was also launched. Entitled Wood Lane TV, this was a spoof soap opera consisting of a new three minute episode each morning. Penned by Chris Jarvis (initially alongside Paul Shuttleworth) Wood Lane became a huge success. The series saw Chris and Josie playing several characters at a failing television station. Receptionist Charlene was "Not as thick as they make out" and involved in an on-off relationship with wannabe pop star Brad Bundi. Brad was son of the station boss Bruce Bundi who lusted after Wood Lane TV's Welsh star Sophie Sapphire! The deliberately low production values encouraged regular moments where various members of the crew would have to don wigs and appear with their back to camera to allow for both of Chris or Josie's characters to appear in one scene! The series ran to around 200 episodes and featured two weddings, a guest appearance from Grange Hill's Mr Bronson and even a visit from the Queen...or rather a tattooed arm appearing in shot waving royally! The series finished following Chris and Josie's commitment to The Friday Zone, which began at the start of 1997.

Zoe Ball left Chidren's BBC in March 1995, in readiness for her move to new summer Saturday morning programme Fully Booked, which began in April. Zoe's career would see her later switch to Channel 4 to replace Gaby Roslin as host of The Big Breakfast, then return to Children's BBC to front Live and Kicking. Later, she married DJ Norman Cook and continues to make regular TV and radio broadcasts.

The Children's BBC Breakfast Show had it's own animated title sequence.Brad and Charlene finally tie the knot in the wedding of the year

The gang of former presenters introduce Record BreakersDebbie Flint drops in for the celebrations in her first return since 1986

In September 1995, Children's BBC celebrated its 10th birthday. The occasion was marked by a big on-air celebration with each of the past presenters popping in to join the party. The same afternoon also marked Toby Anstis' last day after 3 and a half years.

Phillip Schofield recalled that he was so nervous on his first day in the Broom Cupboard that his producer thought he was going to jump out of the fire escape! Whilst Andy Crane revealed he once had to fill for 7 minutes when the Popeye VT reel snapped live on air! Meanwhile Simon Parkin fondly remembered his own last day as the one time Andi Peters let him get a word in!

The last link of the afternoon saw Toby read a letter from Donna Potter - a big Children's BBC fan who had written to many of the presenters over the past 10 years. Toby was then given a farewell from his luminaries, before revealing that Chris Jarvis, Josie D'Arby and Simeon Courtie would be sharing presenting duties in the afternoons from the following Monday.

Otis and Gordon team up on the 10th anniversary!Phillip and Gordon drop in to chat about the early days of Children's BBC

This move meant that for the first time there was no single presenter in the afternoons. Instead, Chris, Josie and Simeon presented in pairs, usually joined by Otis. There were more big competitions held during this period including 'Anorak go Home' - where viewers were encouraged to design a new house for Chris Jarvis' Anorak character - and a tie-in competition to comedy series 'Out of Tune' where viewers were asked to form choirs and sing badly, in the hope of being rewarded with a cameo role in the series!

The new look afternoons also took full advantage of the increasing profile of the internet in the lives of Children's BBC's target audience. Regular questions were posed and viewers invited to email, phone or fax in to the studio to share their thoughts and opinions on the given subject of the day. These could range from 'If you could have any famous person as your teacher, who would they be and why?' to 'What is the most embarrassing thing your Mum or Dad has ever done'. The success of these features changed the way Children's BBC was able to operate - being able to get feedback and guage response from viewers immediately. Email, phone and fax-in features became commonplace in many links for several years.


Simeon and Otis announce the winners of the Tee Hee Hee Tshirt send in

To give more time to the junctions, 'credit squeezes' were used much more regularly from the mid-1990s.  Originally only seen within  children's airtime, credit squeezes are now commonplace across much of television.Whilst the Presentation A Studio was larger than the Broom Cupboard, it was still very small by usual studio standards.  However with the advantage of having manned cameras, the directors were able to use unusual angles to create a greater sense of space.Upon Toby's departure the presenters hosted the afternoon slot in rotation.  Here Chris Jarvis and Josie d'Arby present.  This frame also shows the onscreen text that was used a lot at this time.

The Children's BBC presenters belt out the Remembrants hit for their 1996 April Fools Day Spoof
Kirsten and Otis celebrte upon hearing from Mark Goodier that their song has made the Radio 1 PlaylistA xxx Josie reveals in a live link-up on Newsround that the Children's BBC presenters single was, infact, an April Fools Day joke!

The regular Sunday morning slot continued apace through the 1995/1996 season, fronted by the pairing of Chris Jarvis and Josie D'Arby. Aswell as an omnibus of the week's Wood Lane TV, there were a host of new comic games and sketches. These included Pets Win Nothing - a phone-in game that was a bizarre hybrid of two Dale Winton programmes - Supermarket Sweep and Pets Win Prizes! There was also Club 10.30 hosted by shell-suit wearing entertainers Barry and Veronica, superhero spoof Soup-A-Man and a fascination with chocolate fingers!

Programmes on Sunday's included For Amusement Only, Ocean Odyssey and re-runs of classic Grange Hill.

For the Easter holiday mornings in 1996, a new presenter joined the UK CBBC team. Like Simeon Courtie before her, Middlesbrough born Kirsten O'Brien had been presenting links for Children's BBC on Prime for a month previously. Kirsten went on to stay with Children's BBC for over three years becoming a firm favourite and the first female to regularly present in the afternoons.

Kirsten's first morning at Children's BBC was April 1st 1996. Together with Simeon, Chris, Josie and Otis, Kirsten helped stage a big April Fools Day joke. The team recorded a cover of the Remembrants track "I'll Be There For You" and even filmed a music video. Throughout the morning and afternoon links the presenters promoted the record, which was apparenly available in the shops. There was even a live link with Mark Goodier/MAYO?? at Radio 1 who confirmed the record had made it onto the station's playlist. In anticipation, press releases had been sent to journalists the previous week promoting this 'Otis Records' release!

During Newsround that afternoon however, Josie appeared live from presentation A to reveal it was all a joke!

Following the end of the second series of Live and Kicking on Saturday mornings in April 1996, the decision was taken to move the Summer replacement programme Fully Booked to Sunday's. This led to Children's BBC Presentation taking over the full Saturday morning schedule for five months.

A new brand was introduced, under the name Saturday Aardvark. Fronted by Otis the Aardvark, Simeon Courtie and Kirsten O'Brien, it would provide a wrap-round format for programmes including The Raccoons, acquired cartoon compendium The Marvel Action Hour, teen drama Sweet Valley High and The O Zone (on Saturday's for the first time).

Saturday Aardvark features included a simplified version of phone-in game Ask the Aardvark, and guest experts Tone the Trick (magic), Matt the Showbiz Expert (media) and Dr Dave (medical). There were also guests, comedy from Chris and Josie's Soup-A-Man sketches, and VT inserts World of the Weird and Dominic's Cunning Stunts.

Saturday Aardvark also introduced Sister Otis to Children's BBC. Just one in a long line of Otis' alter egos, Sister Otis was a cool nun that popped in to offer her opinion on pictures sent in by viewers, as a sort of ant-eating equivalent of Sister Wendy.

Recognising the success of Sister Otis a series of other Aardvark characters began to regularly appear in sketches, or just to plague the presenters! Superhero "Noodle Boy" was always on hand to save the world, alongside Kirsten's "Spaghetti Girl" character!, whilst the "Wizard of Woo" was a mystical Aardvark who dabbled in all things paranormal.

Kirsten's appointment at Easter was followed in the Summer by Richard McCourt, a former hospital radio DJ from Sheffield. The pair co-presented many of the holiday mornings that season from a new treehouse set on the roof of Television Centre. This year's phone-in game, Ant Tastic, saw tennis balls pelted at a giant ant costume - usually new boy McCourt.

At the end of the Summer, Simeon Courtie left Children's BBC. His last day was somewhat unusual in that he and Richard McCourt barely appeared on-screen together - as they were wearing clashing lime green shirts! However they did reunite at the end of the morning for a final farewell. Simeon moved to ITV to present new Saturday morning programme WOW (most notable for heroically going to air, albeit from the car park, when a power cut had hit the whole of the Maidstone region, from where the programme was broadcast!).

The Wizard of Woo welcomes Otis Vision viewers to his World of the WeirdRichard McCourt dresses as an ant for the summer 1996 phone-in game Ant Tastic!

Jay Burridge from SMart drops in to share a few of his favourite things with OtisThe end of each edition of OtisVision spoofed the testcard
Carlos returns to try and con Josie for one last time - but she tells him where to go on her last day!Carlos returns to try and con Josie for one last time - but she tells him where to go on her last day!Chris comforts Josie as she says her goodbyes

With the return of Live and Kicking in Autumn 1996, the weekend schedule switched back to normal - with the long-form BBC Two Sunday morning schedule returning for another season. This time round Chris Jarvis and Josie D'Arby played telephone Karaoke with viewers and hosted a spoof cooking game entitled Mastertrough. There were still plenty of other regular sketches, guests and, of course, chocolate fingers.

Following Chris Jarvis and Josie D'Arby's appointment to The Friday Zone - a live variety show which they also co-wrote - in January 1997, their appearances on Children's BBC were limited to just this Sunday morning slot. As such, Wood Lane TV closed it's doors and a replacement was mounted under the title Otis Vision. Presented by Otis the Aardvark, each three minute segment followed a different theme. Monday was "A Few of my Favourite Things", where a celebrity would show Otis some of their most prized possessions, Tuesday was "Otis' Masterclass" where the Aardvark would teach drawing, Wednesday's Telly Time Travels looked at classic television programmes, Thursday welcomed The Wizard of Woo who showed strange photos under the banner "World of the Weird" and Friday's "Heroes Hall of Fame" celebrated TV legends.

During this time the Breakfast Show was regularly presented by Richard McCourt and, from April, Dominic Wood - who was already familiar to viewers from The Friday Zone. Features around this time included Funky Fridge Magnets, in which viewers were asked to send in fridge magnets they had made, The Daily Brekky - Children's BBC's own newspaper and Hair History where viewers were invited to send in before and after pictures of their embrassing hair-dos!

Josie D'Arby left Children's BBC in early 1997 to prepare to move to the new Channel 5 - where she first fronted children's magazine The Mag. Chris continued alone on Sunday mornings until the Summer when he too departed.

For it's 1997 series Fully Booked again ran on Sunday mornings, from April, allowing for the return of the Saturday Aardvark over the Summer. Kirsten O'Brien and Otis hosted again, while new features included Infosphere - a look at computer games and technology, Sister Otis' Saturday Habit - where the skydiving Nun looked back over the previous week's celebrity news and more magic from Dominic Wood. Guests over this season included John Craven and Kermit the Frog??CHECK!.

Sister Otis welcomes viewers to her Saturday HabitPhillip Schofield drops in to share his memories of the presentation department during the last live afternoon in Pres AKirsten, Richard and Otis steal signs from the studio and control room doors on the last day of Pres A!Stars from the world of CBBC dropped in to Studio 9 to celebrate its first day

In 1997, Children's BBC was moved to a new studio, a converted make-up/WIG store, situated next to the Blue Peter garden in Television Centre. The presentation department that was home to NC1 and 2 as well as presentation studio A had been declared unsafe with asbestos and was closed.

The move to the new Studio 9 took place in June 1997. This area was slightly bigger than Presentation A and contained an open foyer area that was designed to be filmed in too. Glass windows and a balcony overlooked the Blue Peter Garden, which was also regularly used during good weather. A spacious new set was installed, full of 9 shaped furniture.

The last afternoon in Presentation studio A was marked with a special appearance by Phillip Schofield who popped in to reminisce with Kirsten about his time in the presentation department, whilst Andi Peters spoke to Richard on the phone. Phillip assured Kirsten that it was Gordon, not him, that had received sackloads of fanmail years earlier and revealed that he still watched Children's BBC with his daughters.

Shortly after the move, for the first time ever (in Autumn ?? JUNE/JULY?? 1997), all of the Children's BBC presenters were away at the same time, owing to holidays and illness. A stand-in presenter was found, in the shape of Paul Hendy, familiar to viewers as the host of factual programme Dear Mr Barker. Paul presented three days of afternoons and breakfast shows, attributing the regular presenters' absence as a case of Spottyitus. For the Thursday afternoon of that week, Blue Peter's Richard Bacon stood-in, whilst normal service was resumed with the return of Dominic Wood on Friday.

Paul Hendy reads some emails in the Studio 9 lobby during his three day stint covering for Richard, Dominic and Kirsten
July 1997, a still from the trailer for the first year of HOT
July 1997, a further still from the trailer for the first year of HOTJuly 1997, a still from the trailer for the first year of HOT
Richard and Dominic present the final HOT

Summer holiday mornings for 1997 were given a big revamp. A new banner heading 'Holidays On Two' (HOT) was introduced. This subtittle would remain in use for several years of holiday mornings.

This first series of HOT was presented by Richard McCourt and Dominic Wood. The six weeks of live morning links included phone in game Buckets and Spades, competitions such as Be On TV and Spidey Scrawls, together with interviews and ???.

The summer provided many memorable moments including Dominic getting stuck inside the 9 shaped sofa during a particularly manic game of Buckets and Spades and ??

The pairing of McCourt and Wood proved popular and was developed further over the next few months, with the pair continuing to regularly host the Breakfast Show together. Flatmates too, they became firm friends and several years later would take Saturday mornings by storm with their award winning programme Dick and Dom in da bungalow.

Kirsten O'Brien and Otis looked after the afternoons during this period, which saw a re-run of the popular Australian series Round the Twist, which had first aired on Children's BBC in 19??. The programme's catchy theme tune generated many irate letters and emails from viewers, complaining about Kirsten talking over the end credits. These complaints won out as for the last programme in the series, the full ?? second sequence was allowed to run through without interruption!

Anji's first day was a pre recorded OB from London Zoo

In line with the new BBC corporate branding, Children's BBC received a new set of idents and a new logo in October 1997. The yellow and black theme that had been used on various props in the set during the previous few months was built upon. Now all of the CBBC graphics adhered strictly to this theme, in what was the most ?? logo to date.

This new logo presented the shortened title "CBBC" on screen for the first time. The "Children's" name was initally still used verbally, but soon dropped altogether.

Grimsby born session-singer Anji Kreft was the next new face to join Children's BBC, on September 28th 1997. Over the next nine months, Kreft presented the Sunday morning links alongside Richard McCourt, and found time to appear over the Christmas and Easter holidays, whilst still living in the North.

Anji Kreft employed her singing talents to write and record various jingles for Sundays, including stings for features Nine Nutty Notions, Family Frolics and phone-in game Gnome That Tune, which was fronted by her alter-egos Delightful Deirdre and Venezuala.

During Richard McCourt and Anji Kreft's time on Sunday mornings, there was also a bizzare preoccupation with garden gnomes! As well as Gnome That Tune there was the regular Mind Your Gnome Business feature and the Children's BBC mailbag became brimming with gnome related paraphernalia. Towards the end of the season, Anji and Richard even presented the whole of one Sunday morning from a gnome reserve in the South West!

Fully Booked returned to Sunday mornings in April 1998, marking Kreft's departure from CBBC.

The new set of CBBC branded yellow and black prizes, introduced for competition winners in 1997

Richard McCourt struggles to get to grips with rollerskating during HOT 1998CBBC Prime used the same yellow and black idents, though with the wording amended at the bottomSteve Wilson introducing CBBC Prime

Steve, Otis and Kirsten have a laugh on the sofa in Autumn 1998.

Following Anji's departure, CBBC's next new face was Steve Wilson. The former Westcounty TV presenter made his first CBBC appearance during half-term in June 1998. The following month, the HOT format returned for a second Summer of mornings. Dominic Wood was away for the first four weeks, filming his own CBBC series The Animal Magic Show. Instead Steve Wilson co-hosted with Richard McCourt for the first month, before Dominic Wood joined the pair for the last fortnight.

Features this Summer included a new phone-in game Ducking and Diving, based in the Blue Peter garden. Callers would answer questions to give a blindfolded Steve more time in a paddling pool from which he had to collect small ducks. There was also ???

Come Autumn 1998, Dominic Wood bowed out of Children's BBC. His last day was a relatively quiet affair, with Richard McCourt encouraging viewers to continue writing to Dominic at the usual address! Wood continued to present programmes for Children's BBC, including The Animal Magic Show and Hyperlinks. In 2002 he returned to CBBC Presentation, alongside Richard McCourt, in their new guise of Dick and Dom.

recall specific hot moment(s) summer afternoon moments?

After the success of HOT over the summer, Steve Wilson joined Kirsten and Otis on a more permanant basis in the afternoons. A small revamp of the set introduced a new sofa and videowall, both more traditional than the previous 9 shaped offerings. The sofa provided scope for Otis' new comic creations The Little People. The Aardvark would pop up from behind the sofa at the end of each afternoon to update viewers on the latest developments in the unseen Little People's world - from their attempts to fly a hot air balloon to running their own Winter Olympics!

split of presenters.??? neccessary??

Ana joins Richard McCourt for her first day on Children's BBCAna has trouble with her spelling on Topple the Blocks

The end of series four of Fully Booked in Summer 1998 allowed for the return of the long-form Sunday morning CBBC links again. This season Richard was joined by former radio newsreader Ana Boulter. The phone in game this year was the supermarket themed Topple the Blocks, which bore an uncanny resemblance to children's game Jenga! An early embarrassing moment for Ana came on her first day when she was held responsible for misinforming Richard MCourt on the correct spelling of the word Potatoes! This almost led to the child on the phone losing the game!

Other features over this series included the bizarre Sud-U-Like, in which viewers were encouraged to send in novelty soaps and Factfiles - an opportunity to list your hobbies and interests and have your photo shown on screen.

Whilst his OtisVision strand no longer ran on a daily basis, Otis the Aardvark continued to provide plenty of comic sketches throughout 1998. Favourites included 'Pointy Views' which gave viewers an opportunity to feed back their opinions of CBBC shows to Otis' latest creation - Fanny Robinson - and 'Dr O' a sketch set in a doctors surgery which usually ended in one of Otis' co-presenters being hit on the head with a giant mallet by the unseen 'nursey' character! For Christmas, his Grotty Grotto marked the lead up to the festive season, with Otis offering his advice on buying presents, food and the like, whilst lamenting his recent break-up with girlfriend Suzie Creamcheese! (CHECK THIS). DON'T THINK THIS WAS 1998 - PROB 1997?

The entire morning of links from December 27th 1998 was handed over to a set of pre-recorded sketches, filmed on location in a department store, which followed Otis shopping in the sales much to the disdain of the stores staff - various characters all played by Richard McCourt and Steve Wilson. One notable link featured a montage of Otis testing out new sofas, to the sounds of classic James track 'Sit Down'!

Noodle Boy
Just as Edd had Tedd several years previously, Otis had his own puppet - Mr Dingleberry

Gaby Roslin's Saturday night entertainment show Whatever You Want began it's second series on BBC One in April 1999. The first programme offered several young wannabes the chance to become a CBBC presenter. Initial auditions were held in Studio 9, with the best three invited to a further audition in front of the live 200 strong Whatever You Want audience, and millions of viewers at home. The lucky candidates - Barney, Emma and Michael - presented a mini Children's BBC afternoon, showing viewer's drawings and interviewing Otis the Aardvark. The studio audience then voted for their favourite, with Northampton born Michael Underwoood winning the prize.

Michael was awarded a 6 week contract with CBBC to present the remodelled summer Saturday morning links, now branded Planet Saturday, alongside Kirsten and Otis. His contract was soon renewed and infact Michael stayed for two years.

Planet Saturday continued in largely the same format as the Saturday Aardvark before it. Otis was on hand with two new comic creations - Timmy the Adventure Panda and Claus Von Loony - alongside old favourites such as Sister Otis and Noodle Boy. There were also guests (including one appearance from the Dutchess of York!) and each programme would end with a trip to the Blue Peter garden to look at the chimps which apparently lived amongst the undergrowth!

The latter half of 1999 saw several comings and goings. Steve Wilson left in August following his appointment as host of Live and Kicking.

Next, Otis the Aardvark finished his five year stint in Autumn 1999, making him one of CBBC's longest serving presenters to date. Otis continued to present other programmes including Clever Creatures and Insides Out for Children's BBC.

Rather like Otis' first appearances several years previously, new puppet character Emlyn the Gremlyn was first seen popping up - unmentioned - in the back of shot before Otis later revealed Emlyn was actually CBBC's newest presenter. Emlyn appeared most regularly with Ana Boulter and stayed at CBBC for nearly two years.

Kirsten O'Brien left before Christmas too, choosing to concentrate on other CBBC projects including SMart - a series that she continued to host for several years.

Richard McCourt took two months off for pantomime over Christmas1999, being replaced by newcomer Adrian Dickson. Richard returned in early 2000 for a final stint, before leaving in March, whilst Adrian remained until 2004.

This brings us to the end of the next section of our history of CBBC.

In the next update -

Angellica Bell; Square Eyes; Ana Boulter departs; Liam Dolan; Bash It Bobby; CBBC On Air.


Text Greg Taylor 2006. Media BBC. With thanks to all contributors. Click here to e-mail
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