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Parents are going to be watching a lot more children’s programming than usual over the next few months, so here are a few streaming recommendations that your kids will love but that you can happily sit through.
Rugrats (Amazon Prime Video)
Strangely, this animated series about a bunch of babies never felt like a kids’ show, even though Tommy, Chuckie, Angelica and co. were mostly still in nappies. It’s witty, you care about what happens to them, that’s the ingredients for any good programme.
Jim Henson’s The Storyteller (Amazon Prime Video)
A live-action/puppet mash-up that originally aired in 1987, The Storyteller harks back to a simpler time when Muppets were everywhere and John Hurt looking like a leftover from Lord of the Rings while chatting to a talking animatronic dog was a usual occurrence. All joking aside, the depth of skill and care in these reworked folk stories remain a joy to behold.
Mister Rogers’ Neigbourhood (Amazon Prime Video)
If you’re stumped about how to explain something to a child, whether that’s an everyday task or something more profound like the nature of anger, you could do a lot worse than turn to legendary US broadcaster Fred Rogers, who taught generations of American kids how to feel less alone.
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That’s our kind of babysitter. His story has recently been turned into two films: a documentary Won’t You Be By Neighbour (on Netflix), and A Beautiful Day In The Neighbourhood with Tom Hanks as Fred (coming to VOD soon).
Boy Meets World (Disney+)
Its aesthetic definitely feels early 90s, but its narratives are timeless. Young teen Corey navigates school, has an edgy best mate, a stupid older brother with spectacular floppy hair and is trying to figure out girls, namely the sassy Topanga. Throw in a sage teacher (yes, he sounds like KITT from Knight Rider because he is KITT from Knight Rider) and you’ve got the perfect early evening treat.
Star Wars Rebels (Disney+)
Lots of die-hard Star Wars fans will tell you the cinematic universe is dead, it’s all about the small screen. And certainly this series, set five years before Episode IV, does a lot to foster that theory, with kickass storylines and excellent performances by everyone from Freddie Prinze Jr. as Jedi Kanan Jarrus to Lars Mikkelsen as iconic baddie Grand Admiral Thrawn.
The Crystal Maze (Now TV)
You may have watched it stoned with a takeaway pizza, but the classic adventure game show is perfect for kids – shouty, a bit weird, easy to understand, competitive and lovely sets. It’s basically a live-action console game.
YolanDa’s Band Jam (BBC iPlayer)
YolanDa Brown is a MOBO-winning saxophonist who introduces her young audience to different musical instruments and ideas using a variety of live guests and by jamming with her group, The Band Jaminals. She welcomes everyone from world-renowned trumpeter Alison Balsom to Maximo Park, but we particularly recommend watching her house guitarist Eilidh McKellar shred alongside guest Sophie Walker.
Andy and the Band (BBC iPlayer)
Fans of CBeebies legend Andy Day will know he fronts a band called the Oddsocks (seriously, their 2017 album Who Invited This Lot? is class) and they’ve been given their own show – a kind of Monkees lite featuring new tunes and lots of silliness.
The Next Step (BBC iPlayer)
If you’ve ever felt the urge to “dance it out”, you’ll enjoy this teen mockudrama about life in a Canadian dance studio. Everyone’s always “doing choreo for regionals” and they won’t stop drinking smoothies, but we’ll be shocked if your young ones don’t decide to put on a show at the end of every episode they watch.
Doctor Who (Netflix/BritBox)
Catch up with everyone from Christopher Eccleston through Peter Capaldi (on Netflix) – the perfect way to rewatch your favourite Doctor’s stories. Or, if you’re looking to go further back in time, BritBox has hundreds of classic episodes of Who featuring the classic Doctors dating from 1963-1989.
Teen Titans GO! (Netflix)
It may be based on the classic DC superhero team, but this show rips up the comics rulebook. It’s shiny, stupid, funny, anarchic and just the sort of thing you want in what is normally a rather dour comic book universe.
Horrible Histories (Netflix)
It’s educational and it’s funny. If you’ve never got around to Horrible Histories, then you’re missing a treat. Excellent writing, hilarious actors and you’re learn enough not to embarrass yourself when you get asked to do a history homeschool class.