Watch with Mother is a cycle of children’s programmes created by Freda Lingstrom and Maria Bird. Broadcast by the BBC from 1953 until 1973. It was the first BBC television series aimed specifically at pre-school children, a development of BBC radio’s equivalent Listen With Mother which had begun two years earlier. In accordance with its intended target audience of pre-school children viewing with their mothers, Watch with Mother was initially broadcast between 3:45 pm and 4:00 pm, post-afternoon nap and before the older children came home from school.

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The choice of Watch with Mother for the title of the series was intended “to deflect fears that television might become a nursemaid to children and encourage ‘bad mothering’”

Although Andy Pandy had been regularly broadcast every week since mid-1950 (normally on Tuesdays), and was joined by Flower Pot Men in December 1952 (normally on Wednesdays), the name Watch with Mother was not adopted until April 1953, shortly before the programming was expanded to three afternoons a week with the addition of Rag, Tag and Bobtail that September. The “classic” cycle of shows was in place by September 1955, with the first showing of The Wooden Tops.

Each of the five classic shows actually consisted of only a very small number of episodes, all made on film – and all in black-and-white. Typically, not more than 26 programmes were filmed for each show, this being sufficient for a run of six months as there was only one broadcast per week. The aim was to provide children’s programming on the cheap: the BBC Children’s department had an extremely tiny budget, and needed a collection of films which could be endlessly repeated, typically in six-monthly cycles, for its undemanding pre-school age audience.

Alberto has now embarked on a series of amazing Watch With Mother images, capturing the very essence of a time gone-by but then, as only Alberto can, with his own modern and surrealist twist.

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