Let's Read with Basil Brush
Let's Read with Basil Brush is an ITV schools TV series from the 1980s, covering Reading for primary school pupils.
The raucous puppet Basil Brush aims to encourage children to learn to read. Each week master Brush's human friend, mister Howard, reads a story about Pepper the puppy. Basil watches Mr Howard reading, making comments and cracking jokes throughout. Afterwards they read through a simple children's version of the story again, and then play a game that could be continued in the classroom.
Each week the game involves putting up three cards, each describing part of an object or creature such as "a head", "a body" and "legs". When the cards are turned over a picture is revealed, which matches the words on the cards but is not the picture that Mr Howard was expecting.
While the story is being read the illustrations are shown in full-screen and the pages are physically turned over to make it clear that they are reading from a book.
The series was a replacement for Reading with Lenny, which also featured a puppet learning to read with his human friend, but this new series was judged to be much less successful than its predecessor. The Independent Broadcasting Authority reported that Let's Read with Basil Brush "disappointed a substantial number of infant teachers who had followed (Reading with Lenny)". However a core purpose of this series was simply to enthuse and motivate children into wanting to learn to read through Basil's "exuberant enthusiasm" and not directly to teach reading.
In the end Let's Read with Basil Brush had a much shorter lifespan than any of the other early reading series shown by ITV during the 1970s, 80s and 90s. After just three years on air it was replaced by Time for a Story with Bill Oddie.
|1.||Pepper and the Fly||23 Sep 1982|
|2.||Pepper's Donkey Ride||30 Sep 1982|
|3.||Pepper's New Wellies||7 Oct 1982|
|4.||Pepper's Hiding Game||14 Oct 1982|
|5.||Pepper's Aeroplane||21 Oct 1982|
|6.||Pepper's Surprise||4 Nov 1982|
|7.||Pepper and the Clockwork Mouse||11 Nov 1982|
|8.||Pepper's Swing||18 Nov 1982|
|9.||Pepper Goes Fishing||25 Nov 1982|
|10.||Pepper Goes to the Farm||2 Dec 1982|
|11.||Pepper and the Pirates||13 Jan 1983|
|12.||Pepper and the Chips||20 Jan 1983|
|13.||Pepper's Roller Skates||27 Jan 1983|
|14.||Pepper Has Hiccups||3 Feb 1983|
|15.||Pepper's Crab||10 Feb 1983|
|16.||Pepper's Balloon||17 Feb 1983|
|17.||Pepper the Magician||3 Mar 1983|
|18.||Pepper and the Crisps||10 Mar 1983|
|19.||Pepper and the Jack-in-a-Box||17 Mar 1983|
|20.||Pepper's Picture Book||24 Mar 1983|
|21.||Pepper at the Circus||30 Apr 1984|
|22.||Pepper's Letter||10 May 1984|
|23.||Pepper Goes to the Zoo||17 May 1984|
|24.||Pepper's Wishing Stone||24 May 1984|
|25.||Pepper and the Giant||7 Jun 1984|
|26.||Pepper Goes Shopping||14 Jun 1984|
|27.||Pepper and the Budgie||21 Jun 1984|
|28.||Pepper the Spaceman||28 Jun 1984|
|Additional material||Ivan Owen|
|Pepper stories by||Barry Hill|
|Basil Brush Song words||Barry Hill|
|Basil Brush Song music||Derek Hilton|
|Production assistants||Gillian Cresswell|
Basil sang the opening theme tune himself:
I love to go to school you know and play with all me mates,
I get a smashing feeling as I walk in through the gates.
I go in to the classroom and there's a sudden hush,
Then all the kids jump up and shout "let's read with Basil Brush!"
Let's Read with Basil Brush!
There was also a separate ending theme song.
All of the Pepper stories were published as children's reading books, with the full text of the story on the left pages and illustrations with simple captions for children to read on the right.
The autumn term stories had yellow covers, the spring term had blue, and the summer term had green, but the stories were all at basically the same level of reading difficulty. (The big mock storybook that Mr Howard read from in the TV programmes was always yellow.)
The reading books originally cost £2.75 for a set of books covering one entire school term. The sets were also made available for parents to buy and use at home.
A booklet of teacher's notes written by the series adviser Helen Arnold. There was one booklet to cover each complete school year, with background to the series, the simple picture-caption version of all the Pepper stories, plus suggestions for follow-up work and lists of other books that could be used by teachers and pupils.
The lists of reading books included the pupils' books published to accompany the Granada's previous reading series, It's Fun to Read and Reading with Lenny, as well as Reading with Lenny writer Terry Hall's previous Laugh and Learn books.
The teacher's notes booklet originally cost 95p for the 1982-3 school year.
A poster for the classroom wall displaying cover illustrations from the autumn and spring term Pepper books.
|1982-83||Autumn 1982 & Spring 1983||Thu||10:21||Fri||11:00||ITV|
|1983-84||Autumn 1983, Spring & Summer 1984||Mon||09:47||Thu||11:08||ITV||
Due to the May Day holiday most summer term programmes were shown first on Thursdays and repeated on Mondays
|1984-85||Autumn 1984, Spring & Summer 1985||Mon||09:47||Tue||11:02||ITV||
Due to the May Day holiday most summer term programmes were shown first on Tuesdays and repeated on Mondays
Sources & References
- Arnold, Helen Let's Read... with Basil Brush teacher's notes 1982-83. Manchester: Granada Television
- Arnold, Helen Let's Read... with Basil Brush teacher's notes 1983-84. Manchester: Granada Television
- Arnold, Helen Let's Read... with Basil Brush teacher's notes 1983-85. Manchester: Granada Television
- Granada (1982) Independent Television for Schools & Colleges Annual Programme 1982-83 Age 4-18. Manchester: Granada Television
- IBA (1983) Independent Broadcasting Authority Annual Report and Accounts 1982-83. London: IBA
With thanks to Simon Collins
- IBA (1983) p.36 states "Let's Read...with Basil Brush (Granada) introduced two terms of weekly programmes intending to illuminate the strategies young children need as they begin to learn to read. The new series fell short of the IBA advisers' hopes for the proposal they had discussed, and disappointed a substantial number of infant teachers who had followed an earlier reading series. The Educational Advisory Council took a liberal view of the concerns expressed by IBA staff, believing that the exuberant enthusiasm of the popular puppet Basil Brush might yet find an alternative audience to that intended. The producing company was asked to explore this possibility closely by arranging for some impartial research to be undertaken." I don't know precisely what the source of teachers' disappointment was.
- Granada (1982) p.5 explains that "the series is not designed to teach specific reading skills, although it is hoped that the activities will directly reinforce the teacher's own reading programme. Above all, it is hoped that Basil's exuberent enthusiasm will motivate children towards wanting to read."
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