20 Kids TV Shows From The 90s That Will Make You Feel Nostalgic
The 90s was arguably the golden age of children’s television! After school we sat down to watch ZZZap! and Art Attack before getting up early on a Saturday morning to catch SMTV: Live. It’s time to relive those happy days with the list below, which brings you the top 15 kids TV programmes from the nineties.
Who didn’t love watching Brum?! 90s kids will remember the opening credits in particular, which saw Brum sneaking out of the motor museum to trundle around while the clueless museum owner’s back was turned.
The tiny car got into all sorts of adventures, with one highlight being an episode in which Brum simply experiences ‘a very windy day’. At the end, Brum returned to the museum with an item from his travels in the back seat – the owner never managed to put two and two together and Brum went to sleep, ready for another day of adventure.
Everyone remembers watching 90s classic Noddy’s Toyland Adventures, which featured the titular character wearing his jingly blue hat and driving a red and yellow car.
Self-employed taxi driver Noddy also had a host of friends to go on adventures with, including Big Ears (the name speaks for itself) and Mr Plod.
The opening theme was great to sing along to, and since the success of the 90s version, the BBC has released an updated and animated Noddy for new generations of kids to enjoy. He’s the happiest little fellow in all Toyland!
18. Rosie and Jim
Even today, kids who grew up in the 90s can’t help but start singing ‘Rosie and Jim’ when they spy a canal boat! Much like Brum, the two rag dolls come alive when no-one is looking and end up having lots of fun adventures, often by following their owner round at a distance.
They were helped by the little green duck who sat atop the narrowboat and quacked loudly when the coast was clear! A children’s classic with yet another great theme tune to add to our list.
17. Tots TV
Who can forget Tots TV with Tilly, Tom, Tiny and their ‘sac magique’?! Although they look slightly creepy now, Tots TV was one of ITV’s most popular kids programmes.
We still don’t understand how three unemployed puppets managed to live in such a large cottage (with a pet donkey to boot!) but who cares – they gave us lots of fond TV memories to look back on.
ZZZap! had quite an original format for a children’s TV programme – it showed a giant comic book that came to life, with the camera zooming in on a different window featuring its own character and story.
Characters included Cuthbert Lilly, Smart Arty (a crossover with Art Attack) and Daisy Dares.
The programme was designed with deaf children in mind, hence the largely visual format and the inclusion of ‘The Handymen’ who did tricks and routines on a hand-sized concert hall stage.
15. Art Attack
Art Attack was children’s programming at its best. Forget about The Beatles – the series was co-created and presented by everyone’s favourite Scouser Neil Buchanan, and it proved so popular with kids in the UK that it ran from 1990 until 2007!
We always got excited waiting to find out what the Big Art Attack was going to be, although The Head kind of freaked us out even back then. The series aired in over 30 countries, including China and Uruguay, and has recently been revamped by Disney Junior.
Just get out your PVA glue…
14. Oakie Doke
Yet another programme that fills us with childhood nostalgia, Oakie Doke had a great little opening credits sequence with yet another original theme song.
OK, if we’re honest, we can’t remember much beyond the opening credits – this may explain why the series only lasted for 13 episodes, which were aired over 2 years!
13. SMTV: Live
Presenters Ant & Dec might rule our television screens with their presenting gigs on seemingly endless reality contests like I’m A Celebrity and Britain’s Got Talent, but 90s kids will remember them best for SMTV: Live.
They hosted the Saturday morning favourite alongside Cat Deeley, and British kids soon fell in love with the mix of sketches, games and competitions featured on the show. Who remembers the Friends-style parody Chums? Or the Star Trek-themed SMTV 2099?! Surely those were the golden days of children’s TV…
12. Hey Arnold
This was one for anyone who was lucky enough to have satellite or cable!
Hey Arnold was a Nickelodeon classic that followed the adventures of a young man with a rugby ball-shaped head who lives with his grandparents and hangs out with friends Gerald and Helga. Do you remember the opening theme tune?
Rugrats was another American import that eventually spawned a whole series of films and merchandise. Tommy Pickles was a courageous one year old baby who was highly developed for his age – he hung around with Chucky, twins Phil and Lil, as well as his brother…Dil.
Angelica was the series antagonist, with the scrapes between her and the babies providing much of the show’s entertainment. It ended up running from 1991 until 2004, making it the eighth-longest running animated series of all time!
10. The Worst Witch
We all know about the Harry Potter series, but who remembers The Worst Witch?! Based on the books by Jill Murphy, this magical series followed the adventures of Mildred Hubble who, as the title suggests, wasn’t all that great at being a witch.
Mildred and her friends attended Miss Cackle’s Academy with her group of friends but the titular character was always getting into trouble, much to the annoyance of her teachers. Check out the opening credits below, complete with high-tech flying broomstick animation:
9. Bananas in Pyjamas
Oh, cheese and whiskers! Do you remember the banana-shaped duo B1 and B2, plus their friends Amy, Lulu, Morgan (the three teddy bears) and Rat in a Hat?! Bananas in Pyjamas was an Australian creation, and aired on British television from 1992 to 2001.
There was plenty of singing, dancing and banana-themed banter to enjoy, and in 2011 an updated version of the children’s favourite appeared for the next generation of young’uns.
Pingu was great fun for kids and adults alike. We couldn’t understand a word they were saying, since the penguins only spoke in ‘Pinguish’ or ‘Penguinese’ a rudimentary language which consisted of the sounds “noot” “neet” “nute” and “nit”.
And forget about the updated theme song – 90s kids will always remember the original tune at the start, when Pingu turned around and gave us a little wink before the main programme began.
7. Wacky Races
Wacky Races was actually first created in the 60s before being distributed on UK television in the 1990s.
The series spawned iconic characters from Dick Dastardly and his snickering dog Muttley, to the programme’s only female character, Penelope Pitstop (who rode ‘The Compact Pussycat’).
Dastardly was always hatching plans to thwart his fellow racers but, as fans of the series well know, they nearly always back-fired. There were two races in each episode, and fans might be surprised to know that only 17 episodes were ever made!
Now it’s time for the Chuckle brothers! Barry and Paul Elliott were the moustachioed duo who got into all kinds of trouble trying to pass things back and forth to one another.
The classic kids programme ran from 1987 to 2009.
5. Jungle Run
Who remembers this classic gameshow, which aired on CITV from 10th September 1999 to 29th November 2006?
It was similar to Fort Boyard and The Crystal Maze in style. The show had three presenters during its run, referred to as the “Jungle Guide.” These were Dominic Wood from 1999 to 2000, Chris Jarvis from 2001 to 2002 and Michael Underwood from 2003 to 2006.
A team of kids would complete five jungle challenges where they would originally win bananas which would give them time in the final challenge. In the later series, the bananas were replaced with silver monkey statues, giving them ten seconds inside The Temple Of The Jungle King. There is a golden banana worth more bananas or a ruby monkey worth twenty seconds.
4. Thomas and Friends
Thomas & Friends is an absolute classic! It is based on The Railway Series of books by the Reverend Wilbert Awdry and his son, Christopher Awdry.
Thomas it the main locomotive in the series, based on the fictional Island of Sodor. Thomas has stood the test of time, and is still being broadcast today, having being modernised for a new generation.
The quiz show pitted two randomly selected teams of 11- and 12-year-old schoolchildren from across the country against each other. Apart from Jungle Run, it was the children’s challenge show that everyone wanted to be on.
A total of 11,800 contestants from 236 schools appeared on the programme over the years, the majority of which were from Scotland and the north of England due to the show being produced by BBC Scotland. This is probably why our school was never involved, being from the midlands!
2. Barney and Friends
Ahh Barney, the programme featuring a purple anthropomorphic Tyrannosaurus rex who conveys educational messages through songs and small dance routines with a friendly, optimistic attitude.
We probably learned more watching Barney and Friends than we did at school.
This was a must-watch of the 90s. The programme’s format saw four contestants, two male and two female, compete in a series of physical events against the show’s “Gladiators”, eventually competing in one final event, with contestants aiming to secure a place in the grand final and be crowned champion for their respective series.
Personally, Wolf was my favourite Gladiator (I even got a signed poster once, as a child this was a big deal!)
We hope this has bought back some good memories for you! It certainly has for me writing it.