The Saturday Special

1951 | United Kingdom

Following the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, television established itself as a serious medium as well as a serious alternative to sound radio. The 1950s became a golden age for children's television under Freda Lingstrom and Owen Reed who succeeded her. During this period many people who were to become household names in both adult and children's television first appeared on the early afternoon shows aimed at younger audiences. The Saturday Special was no exception and it was here that artist and illustrator Tony Hart was first seen and Harry Corbett's Sooty got his first regular TV spot before going on to conquer children's TV. 

Saturday Special was hosted by Peter Butterworth (later of Carry On fame) as Mr Chadwicke-Bugle, a night watchman who would always be interrupted by a visitor to whom he would tell a story. Butterworth was ably assisted by his wife, Janet Brown, who would also provide a musical number. Also appearing regularly was John Hewer who later went on to portray Captain Bird's Eye in the fish finger commercials. The series also had some puppets; Porterhouse was a parrot (operated by his creator Sam Williams) who was voiced by Peter Hawkins and the other puppet was called Merlin. The scripts were written by Shaun Sutton, an actor, writer and producer who went on to become head of the BBC Drama Group between 1969 and 1981. 

The Saturday Special appeared on alternate Saturday's between 1951 and 1953. The show rotated with another popular children's series; Whirligig.

Published on January 27th, 2019. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.