GET your slide-whistles ready – the Clangers are back.
The BBC has announced that the pink extra-terrestrial creatures are returning to TV.
I’m a bit young to remember the first broadcast of the knitted aliens and their friend the Soup Dragon – who served a strange green broth – 44 years ago, but I used to sneak downstairs early in the morning to watch repeats of Trapdoor and The Herb Garden.
I even remember the song for Dill the Dog and Parsley the (very friendly) lion.
There’s something special about children’s TV. It’s often our first exposure to a world wider than nursery or our primary school and it acts as a bonding exercise – both between parents and kids (my mother, a dab hand at watercolours, would watch art show, Hartbeat, with me) and with total strangers at parties.
Yes, I loved the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Yes, I’d love another drink. Cowabunga!
Did you know that a handful of local actors have been involved in forging the memories of today’s young TV audiences?
Rhys Ifans, a former pupil at Ysgol Maes Garmon in Mold, is known – alongside his appearance in the film, Notting Hill – for narrating Sali Mali, the Welsh-language children’s show.
Rhodri Meilir, from Mold, better known as the idiot housemate in the now defunct sitcom, My Family, was the original Rapsgaliwn on S4C.
He played a rapper who travels the length of Wales to answer children’s questions.
Adrian Holmes, originally born in Wrexham (later of Vancouver) made a more international appearance when he voiced Taco the dog in Bratz Kidz: Sleep-Over Adventure.
One of my favourite shows of all time, The Storyteller, featured Holywell actor Jonathan Pryce as a king, who did a turn opposite fellow Hollywood star Kermit the Frog.
But back to the Clangers. The BBC says the £5 million remake is already in production and set for a return to the small screen in 2015.
Clangers, previously launched on the BBC in 1969, are pink, long-nosed, inventive and lovable mouse-shaped creatures who live on a small blue planet, out in the starry stretches of space.
Kind and generous creatures, they communicate with distinctive whistles, and a narrator comments on the thrilling and often hilarious events.
This isn’t the first time a beloved series has had a makeover.
Bill and Ben the Flowerpot Men returned to our screens in 2001, while my beloved Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles got a leaner and meaner look for the new millennium.
We asked Leader readers what series they treasured. Margaret Birch, 57, of Wrexham, recalled a family of puppets that lived on a farm, exclaiming: “The Wooden Tops!”
Sheila Wilcock, 54, of Gresford, said: “I loved that too, especially Spotty Dog!”
Karen Murphy, 49, of Wrexham, said: “I remember Watch With Mother and on a Monday my lovely grandma would visit. I knew her bus would be here any minute when it started.”
Susan Monks, 59, of Wrexham liked the slight more surreal Torchy the Battery Boy, which saw the titular character, who has a magic light in his head, blast off into space and confront his nemesis, a girl called Bossy Boots.
Zoe Roscoe-Ball, 34, of Wrexham, enjoyed Button Moon, which, like the Clangers, was an out-of-this-world series. It continued for much of the 1980s.
Sian Gilmore, 28, of Connah’s Quay, asked: “Do you remember Rainbow with Bungle, George and Zippy? Now we (parents) are traumatised by Numberjacks and Mr Tumble! Argh!”
Cath Ellis, 61, of Sealand, used to like The Wooden Tops and Andy Pandy, the puppet in blue striped pyjamas.
Stephanie Wilson, 39, of Connah’s Quay, picked out one of my favourites, saying: “Count Duckula was my fave. He was a vegetarian vampire duck.”
The count, voiced by a delightfully sarcastic David Jason, was strangely subversive, featuring elements of horror.
Erica Taylor, 30, by contrast, brought up the memory of a sweetly-named Disney cartoon. “I used to watch Gummi Bears,” she said.
David Parry, 30, who lived in Treuddyn, said: “I liked Samurai Pizza Cats and later Batman the Animated Series. Both totally awesome. As for the early ones – I liked Trapdoor and Stopit and Tidyup.”
Becky Kilfoyle, 31, of Saltney, said: “When I was very young it was Button Moon, Care Bears and My Little Pony. As I got a bit older I started to prefer the shows which were supposedly meant for boys like He-Man – She-Ra was a bit poor by comparison – Transformers, Thundercats and my all time favourite, Knightmare. One of my brother’s friends was on Knightmare once. His team didn’t win.
“Boys’ shows were more exciting! I was never one for girly stuff, even when I was little. Even when it came to toys I used to leave my dollies alone and steal my brother’s Lego castles and action figures to play with.”
Becky was not keen remakes, saying they sometimes “take the magic away”.
Her feelings were echoed by online Leader reader Catherine von Ruhland, 50, who lives in London. She said: “The Clangers in digital format will be an abomination.”
But others celebrated the BBC’s announcement.
Alan Roberts, 26, of Mold, said: “The Soup Dragon returns!”