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Muriel Young with Pussy Cat Willum
Small Time began in 1955 as a midday slot for children of five and under. It was then presented by Susan Spear.
It became the umbrella programme for many different children's shows between 1955 and 1966 including The Adventures of Twizzle, Torchy the Battery Boy, The Little House That Stood on the Hill, Ivor The Engine, The Adventures of Tum with Patrick Boyle and Snoozy the sea-lion with Dorothy Smith.
The show kept disappearing and reappearing on our screens over the years. There were interludes with other shows such as Jolly Good Time with Jimmy Hanley and The Musical Box with Jill Adamson and later Wally Whyton. At the end of 'The Musical Box' each week the closing song sung by Wally Whyton went like this...
A-B-C-D-E goodbye from Willum and me
F-G-H-I-J we'll see you another day
K-L-M-N-O it's time for us to go
P-Q-R-S-T And the cat went fiddle-I-dee, fiddle-I-dee, fiddle-I-dee
The star of Small Time, when it transferred to the early evening in 1959, was Pussy Cat Willum devised and animated by Janet Nicholls. He appeared with Wally Whyton, Bert Weedon and Muriel Young or Liz Shingler. Willum achieved superstar status, receiving as many as 400 letters per week.
Later in the show's run other stars appeared, such as Theodore the rabbit with Larry Parker. Also 'Sara and Hoppity' whose song went:
has a toy as naughty can be
Dear old Hoppity, naughty Hoppity
Sara Brown has a toy as
naughty can be
old Hoppity, naughty Hoppity
The most famous additions were Ollie Beak and Fred Barker (created by Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin, also creators of Ivor the Engine and Noggin the Nog). Ollie Beak's voice was by Wally Whyton and Fred's by Ivan Owen (previously the voice of Yoo-Hoo in Billy Bean and later the voice of Basil Brush). Fred appeared in a segment called 'Dogwatch'.
Ollie Beak and Fred Barker
Fred and Ollie went on to appear in Lucky Dip (1958-61) which had a 'Happy Cooking' segment with Fanny and Johnny Craddock and was presented by Neville Whiting, Howard Williams and Muriel Young. This programme evolved in the early sixties into 'Tuesday Rendezvous' and later 'Five O Clock Club' with Jimmy Hanley, Muriel Young and Howard Williams (later also Wally Whyton). Bert Weedon, and Grahame Dangerfield also appeared.
(Many thanks to Malcy B for additional
research for this page)
Visit Malcolm's Complete History of 'Small Time'
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