Outrageous kids TV moments – hosts ‘stoned’, Jimmy Savile spoof and sex scandals

Outrageous kids TV moments – hosts ‘stoned’, Jimmy Savile spoof and sex scandals

04/21/2022

Kids’ TV is well known for being slightly terrifying. From outright eerie shows like the death-heavy Animals of Farthing Wood to the horror of seeing Henry bricked up in his tunnel in Thomas the Tank Engine, it’s all happened on our screens.

How children weren’t scarred for life, we aren’t quite sure.

Iconic 60s show Play School was no exception. It emerged after the show ended in 1988 that the presenters enjoyed kicking one doll in particular around the studio because she was so disliked.

The programme – which turns 58 years old today – consisted of a gang of toys and presenters, including Humpty, twin teddy bears, rag doll Jemima, Poppy and Hamble.

Hamble was universally hated, with presenter Chloe Ashcroft taking particular offence to her. One day she admits she “did a terrible thing to Hamble. She just would not sit up… so one day I got a very big knitting needle, a big wooden one, and I stuck it right up her bum, as far as her head.

“So she was completely rigid, and she was much, much better after that.”

Presenters also loved to kick her around the studio because they just found her so unpleasant.

Ready to have your childhood ruined? Read on.

‘Stoned’ presenters

Kicking puppets around wasn’t the only controversial moment in Play School’s history, as former presenter Johnny Ball revealed in a 2012 documentary that the stars were actually “stoned out of their minds” while filming.

Speaking on BBC4 documentary Lights! Camera! Action! Tales of Television Centre, he explained: “There was Rick Jones, Lionel Morton and myself. They got stoned on the biggest joint you’ve ever seen – in the studio.

“We were in silhouette as the three shepherds with our crooks. They were absolutely stoned out of their minds. So when we recorded, who cocked his lines up? Me.”

However, Johnny made it clear he wouldn’t smoke because it could interfere with his work.

It came to light that plenty of stars in the 60s and 70s would turn to marijuana for a bit of relief, as Joan Bakewell explained: “Of course they smoked and they didn’t smoke ordinary cigarettes.”

And Sir David Attenborough was so furious that he complained about it, telling staff: “Look, please don’t smoke that stuff openly so we can all smell it. Just be sensible.”

Stars would even use dressing rooms and green rooms for sex because “nobody cared”.

Doctor Who star Katy Manning added: “People were bonking all over the BBC. Everybody was doing it on the premises.”

Jimmy Savile spoof

In 2013, the BBC was forced to apologise for an episode of the Tweenies which included a sinister Jimmy Savile spoof – two years after he was exposed as a paedophile.

The episode saw Max dress up in one of the Jim’ll Fix It presenter’s trademark tracksuits and a blonde wig as he presented a Top of the Pops-style show.

Nursery children across the country heard him utter pervert Savile’s catchphrase: “Now then, guys and gals.”

The episode – dubbed Favourite Songs – was originally filmed in 2001, long before the scandal of six decades of sexual assaults came to light publicly.

But fans watching the 2013 repeat were disgusted, and turned to Twitter to air their thoughts.

One asked: “Are BBC trying to self destruct? Max from Tweenies dressed as Jimmy Savile. Nearly choked on my corn flakes.”

As someone else said: “Can’t believe in Tweenies on CBeebies today a character was ­impersonating Savile in parody of TOTP! What is the BBC thinking?”

A spokesperson for the BBC later apologised for the gaffe, stating: “CBeebies ­broadcast a repeat of an episode of the Tweenies, originally made in 2001, featuring a character dressed as a DJ impersonating Jimmy Savile.

“This programme will not be repeated and we are very sorry for any offence caused.”

Sex scandals

You might not think it, but puppet show Sooty sparked controversy in the 60s over a huge sex scandal.

The proposed debut of Soo – Sooty’s girlfriend – led critics to fret that the kids’ show would become overly sexualised, with show producer Trevor Hill rejecting the idea “on the grounds that sex would be creeping into the programme”.

It was then revealed that panda bear Soo would be allowed to enter the show, but the pair “must never touch” – and she first appeared in 1965.

That isn’t the only scandal to have hit the children’s airwaves, as in 1997 it was reported that Teletubbies star Dave Thompson was sacked from the programme for ‘non-acceptable’ behaviour.

He was accused of making the role “too effeminate”, as conservative viewers worried about having a camp character in the series, mainly due to his red handbag.

The character came under fire from US evangelist Jerry Falwell, who sensationally warned: “Tinky Winky is purple, the gay pride colour, and his antenna is shaped like a triangle: the gay pride symbol.”

Dave Thomspon later hit back at the accusations, explaining to Echo News: “The whole thing about Tinky Winky being camp came from the fact he had a red handbag – all the Teletubbies have got a favourite toy.

"The idea is they found these objects and chose one and they played with it.

"Adults are projecting adult sexuality on to a children's cuddly toy.”

Eerie theories

Since the dawn of cartoons, there have been some terrifying conspiracy theories surrounding them.

One of the most famous conspiracies surrounds Nickelodeon show Rugrats, which ran from 1991 until 2006 and even landed itself a range of feature films.

The theory goes that all of the babies – other than Tommy’s brother Baby Dil – are actually dead.

Fans reckon the kids are merely a figment of Angelica Pickles’ imagination, with Chuckie dying in childbirth along with his mum, Tommy being a stillbirth, and twins Phil and Lil being one child of unknown gender aborted by their parents.

The theory also adds that Angelica hit Baby Dil on the head, causing the deformity seen on the show.

However, one of the show’s creators since slammed the theory, telling Buzzfeed: “A lot of people believe that conspiracy theory. And no, it’s not true.”

Rugrats isn’t the only show affected – viewers also reckon rival Nickelodeon cartoon SpongeBob SquarePants is actually a product of nuclear testing, hence why all the sea creatures can talk.

The city of Bikini Bottom is believed to lie underneath the island of Bikini Atoll, where in real life the US detonated 23 different nuclear bombs in the Cold War.

Others have suggested the characters in Scooby Doo don’t age because they’re all ghosts, and Ed, Edd n Eddy is set in purgatory – with all the kids dead and enjoying no adult interference.

Naked snaps

In 2011, CBeebies star Sarah-Jane Honeywell was forced to leave the kids’ channel after posing for a semi-nude photoshoot in protest of animal rights abuses.

She was best known for presenting stints on Tikkabilla and Higgledy House, as well as Tweenies and Friends Show.

The star posed topless in just a pair of skimpy white knickers while lying on a huge plate filled with fake peas, chips and ketchup, posing as the ‘meat’ to protest a carnivorous diet.

As a kids’ TV star, Sarah explained she was “expected to be like a saint” – and after the move, mums would “scowl” at her while out in public.

Prior to the PETA shoot, Sarah had posed for a wet T-shirt photoshoot – pouring a can of Diet Coke over herself while wearing a nearly see-through vest – and didn’t get flack from BBC bosses.

However, when press went to the BBC for comment on the new topless snaps, the broadcaster allegedly said: “You don’t work for us anymore.”

She claimed nobody phoned her to tell her about the sacking.

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