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Valerie Hobson with a display of doll's clothes during an edition of Telescope A very early children's magazine programme introduced by Valerie Hobson (left). Puppet characters appearing (below) were "Timothy Telescope", a sailor puppet and "Cactus the Camel" (Harry Whanslaw's famous marionette which had been made back in the 1920s or 30s) as well as a character called "Bookworm".

The programme consisted mainly of hobby demonstrations and stories, as well as the adventures of a cowboy called Hank who eventually moved to the shows which followed called Whirligig.

It once ran a competition with a conundrum and received some 6000 entries, which may not seem a lot in these days of mass viewing, but was a very good response during those earlier days of Children's TV.

Timothy Telescope and Cactus the Camel

Dear Whirligig

In 1951 I was lucky enough to win one of the competitions on Telescope which was then hosted by Cliff Mitchelmore. The question is obviously engraved in my mind. "How many 9s are there between 9 and 100?" I still have the letter from the BBC inviting me and one member of my family for a visit to the studios and an appearance with Cliff Michelmore in the question slot, as well as part of the camera directions and lines of the participants picked up off the floor of the studio. I met Elizabeth Cruft, of Cruft’s Dog Show Fame, with her dogs. Hugh Gee who had a DIY piece, and Valerie Hobson the film star. There was also a lady talking about period costumes. The programme was of course live and there were three television cameras, two on the broadcasted piece and one ready for the next part of the show. Thick cables covered the floor. Although we were restricted to two people all four of my family went up and my parents and brother sat in the production suite. I seem to remember that I spent all my time on air looking at myself in the monitor so my head was down the majority of the broadcast. On the way home my father drove down the deserted A11 from London and as we neared home he actually did 60 miles an hour, the first time we’d travelled at that speed.

The answer is, as I wrote. "Of number nines there are quiet plenty. In fact I make the answer twenty."

Rodger Germany

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