Figure It Out

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started19th Sep 1972
ended22nd Jun 1976
last rpt16th Jun 1978
6 school years
episodes54 (approx.)
duration15 mins
age rangeAge 7-9
languageenIn English
ITV junior mathsHierarchyPrevious.gifPrevious series: Towards Mathematics Next series: Leapfrog HierarchyNext.gif

Figure It Out is an ITV schools TV series from the 1970s, covering Mathematics for primary school pupils.

ATV's series for junior school maths classes throughout most of the 1970s is actually two completely separate series under the same title.

Banner for a classroom Figure It Out noticeboard, provided by ATV

The original series of 26 episodes from 1972, presented by Tony Bastable (who had also presented its predecessor, Towards Mathematics), look at practical activities, like children sorting themselves when the bell rings in a junior school, counting parked cars, and using addition and subtraction when shopping. Viewers are directly given questions and tasks to investigate, and teachers are encouraged to maintain a Figure It Out noticeboard on the classroom wall, with suggestions given in each episode for items to be added to the noticeboard that week. These programmes were designed so that they could be used with pupils over two years, with the simpler odd-numbered episodes screened in the first year, and the more advanced even-numbered episodes in the second yearSeveral of the episodes were remade for repeats in 1973-4 and 1974-5, but I don't know exactly which ones.

Fred Harris and Jane Alford in the 1975 version of Figure It Out

A second, completely different series of Figure It Out was introduced in 1975, presented by Fred Harris and Jane Alford. These 28 programmes had a more loose, magazine style with lots of different items in each episode, not linked to the same mathematical topic, and an emphasis on being fun to watch for the child viewers. The teacher's notes warned that "the programmes contain jokes which teachers may find excruciating but which most children will enjoy." This series includes regular characters such as KEN, a broken-down computer who knows all about maths, the Mathematical Mandarin who knows all about karate, superhero Supermath, a Noel the Numbers, a "smelly onion seller from Marseilles". There were also mimes performed by Ben Benison.

After the second version of Figure It Out had run its own three-year course it was replaced with a revolutionary new maths series for juniors, also presented by Fred Harris, called Leapfrog.


Some of the episodes from series 1 were remade in 1973-4, but I'm not sure which so they are not listed here.

# Title Broadcast
Series 1 - with Tony Bastable
1. Sorting 19 Sep 1972
2. Patterns 26 Sep 1972
3. How Many? 3 Oct 1972
4. Hundreds and Hundreds 10 Oct 1972
5. Length 17 Oct 1972
6. Capacity 31 Oct 1972
7. Writing Numbers 7 Nov 1972
8. Two By Two 14 Nov 1972
9. Money 21 Nov 1972
10. Made to Measure 28 Nov 1972
11. Time 16 Jan 1973
12. Area 23 Jan 1973
13. Multiplication 30 Jan 1973
14. More Multiplication 6 Feb 1973
15. Fair Shares 13 Feb 1973
16. Share and Share Again 20 Feb 1973
17. Machine Maths 6 Mar 1973
18. What Happens Next? 13 Mar 1973
19. Noughts and Crosses 20 Mar 1973
20. Is That Likely? 27 Mar 1973
21. Symmetry 1 May 1973
22. Fractions 8 May 1973
23. Round and Round 15 May 1973
24. Clock Arithmetic 22 May 1973
25. Maths Around Us 5 Jun 1973
26. The Circle 12 Jun 1973
Series 2 - with Fred Harris & Jane Alford
1. Tessellations, Mosaics, Number Tables, Pentominoes 23 Sep 1975
2. Boxes, Ranking, Dice Numbers, Distribution, Volume 30 Sep 1975
3. Windmills, Rotation Patterns, Quarter Turns, Number Squares 7 Oct 1975
4. Nets of Cubes, Ranking Boxes, Area, Dice Sports, Weight 14 Oct 1975
5. Tessellations, Subtraction, Square Tiles, Stained Glass 21 Oct 1975
6. Sorting, 3's Number Pattern, Doubling Numbers, Number Sets 4 Nov 1975
7. Punch Cards, Recording & Sorting, 2's & 3's Number Patterns, Simple Shapes 11 Nov 1975
8. Concentric Circles, Coil Pots, Beam Compass, Rectangular Numbers 18 Nov 1975
9. Halving Squares, Tessellations, Joining Points with Lines, Triangular Numbers 25 Nov 1975
10. Folded Paper Patterns, Snowflakes, Triangular Numbers, Tetrahedron 2 Dec 1975
11. Mirror Symmetry, Counting Round a Clock Face, Frieze Patterns, 1's & 2's Number Blocks 13 Jan 1976
12. Shadows, Sundials, Square Numbers, Rotation Patterns, 3's & 4's Number Blocks 20 Jan 1976
13. Dissecting Hexagons, Rhombus, Tessellations, 3's Table, Route Making 27 Jan 1976
14. Spirals, Helix, 9's Number Pattern, Route Making 3 Feb 1976
15. Multiplication Tables, Flow Diagrams, Making a Cube, Folding a Circle 10 Feb 1976
16. Sorting Quadrilaterals, Mirror Symmetry, Addition Tables, Squares 24 Feb 1976
17. Symmetry in Capital Letters, 15's Number Game, Water and Cancle Clock 2 Mar 1976
18. Symmetry in Hexagons, Number Sequences, Pendulums 9 Mar 1976
19. Tetrahedron, Prime Numbers, Kites 16 Mar 1976
20. Triangles from Hexagons, 1/2 1/4 1/8 Fractions, 5's 6's 7's 8's Number Blocks 23 Mar 1976
21. Polyominoes, Tetronimoes, Permutations, Dice Throwing 27 Apr 1976
22. Rigid Polygons, Number Rows and Columns, Dice Throwing, Number Rods 4 May 1976
23. Rotating Polygons, Square Numbers, Bridges 11 May 1976
24. Sorting Square Numbers, Hexagonal Number Spinners, Parallel Lines, Symmetry 18 May 1976
25. Tetrahedron, Octahedron, Square Numbers, Isosceles Triangles 25 May 1976
26. Binary Numbers, Parabolas, Flow Charts 8 Jun 1976
27. Hinged Cubes, 6's Number Bonds, Binary Numbers 15 Jun 1976
28. Triangular Numbers, Number Blocks, Windmills, Subtraction 22 Jun 1976


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