Megamaths (TV)

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companyBBC
started16th Sep 1996
ended4th Feb 2002
last rpt19th Jun 2008
12 school years
episodes40
duration20 mins & 15 mins
age rangeAge 7-9
languageenIn English
Megamaths title 1998.jpg

Megamaths is a BBC schools TV series from the 1990s and 2000s, covering mathematics for primary school pupils.

An engaging maths series for primary school pupils set in two completely different worlds.

The first four units of programmes concerned the inhabitants of a magical castle on table mountain, and then three further units featured trainees for the role of Maths Man at a superhero school.

Megamaths was also the title of a BBC school radio series for the same age group, in which Maths Man and other characters give listeners a mental maths quiz.

Titles

Table Mountain

A castle high on top of table mountain is home to an entire pack of playing cards, all played by real people, and the adventures of the Kings, Queens, Jacks, and all of the number cards inevitably involve the application of mathematics.

The Joker looks after the children who come to visit the castle, and is also the link with children watching in the classroom. The Joker in the first unit (Jenny Hutchinson) introduces the programmes in rhyme and talks directly to the audience. She has the power to appear and disappear with a click of her fingers. A new Joker (Gareth Jones) arrives at the start of the second unit. He is still the genial host, but he does not display any magical powers.

The first Joker
The second Joker (and Goyle)


The castle entrance is guarded by two mischievous gargoyles, Garg and Goyle, who often verbally spar with the second Joker. They observe the goings-on in the castle and summarise the maths that everybody has learnt at the end of the episodes. Below stairs in the castle a dragon called Brimstone and a kitten called Digit enjoy their own adventures. These two characters are an animated interlude in each episode. They were drawn by three completely different animation studios over the years, and their appearance changed quite dramatically.

Brimstone & Digit in 1996
Brimstone & Digit in 1998
Brimstone & Digit in 1999


Some of the regular features in the castle include a tournament in which two of the royals compete with each other to solve mathematical equations presented by the acrobatic number cards. They take plenty of time working out the answers, so the audience has a good chance to work out the answers first.

The Joker welcomes teams of schoolchildren into the castle courtyard to play physical mathematical games, such as fitting numbers into equations made out of battlements, life-sized snakes and ladders, buying clothes within a budget, and measuring different items. All of these challenges could be reproduced in the classroom.

In the Money programmes an auction takes place at the start of each episode, in which the characters, whether meaning to or not, bid each other up to the amount of money which is the subject of that week's programme.

There are also acrobatic displays and dances, for example in the Division programmes five acrobats repeatedly rearrange themselves to show how division is related to multiplication, and original songs. In the Tables programmes each table is chanted at the beginning and end of the episode. Throughout all four table mountain units one of the featured acrobats was Sarah-Jane Honeywell, later to become a well-known presenter of Cbeebies TV programmes.

The majority of each episode is taken up with the adventures of the royal cards as they encounter mathematical problems, such as dividing building materials evenly between four builders, and working out how much money the Queen of Diamonds could have saved if she didn't think that accepting change was beneath her.

Curiously the Queen of Clubs was the only royal, in fact the only playing card, not to appear in any of the TV episodes. She certainly existed, as she is referred to in the episodes (for example at the start of the Money to One Pound episode the King of Clubs instructs the Jack to buy the rubbish glass things for the Queen) and the worksheets, but never took part in the tournaments or adventures with the other characters.

Episodes

All table mountain episodes were 20 minutes long.


# Title Broadcast
Tables
1. Two Times #1996-09-16-00-00-0016 Sep 1996
2. Five Times #1996-09-23-00-00-0023 Sep 1996
3. Ten Times #1996-09-30-00-00-0030 Sep 1996
4. Three Times #1996-10-07-00-00-007 Oct 1996
5. Six Times #1996-10-14-00-00-0014 Oct 1996
6. Nine Times #1996-10-28-00-00-0028 Oct 1996
7. Four Times #1996-11-04-00-00-004 Nov 1996
8. Eight Times #1996-11-11-00-00-0011 Nov 1996
9. Seven Times #1996-11-18-00-00-0018 Nov 1996
10. Big Numbers (aka Miscelleny Times) #1996-11-25-00-00-0025 Nov 1996
Money
11. Money to 20p #1998-01-13-00-00-0013 Jan 1998
12. Money to 50p #1998-01-20-00-00-0020 Jan 1998
13. Money to One Pound #1998-01-27-00-00-0027 Jan 1998
14. Money to Five Pounds #1998-02-03-00-00-003 Feb 1998
15. Money to Ten Pounds #1998-02-10-00-00-0010 Feb 1998
Division
16. Divide by Two #1998-02-24-00-00-0024 Feb 1998
17. Divide by Four #1998-03-03-00-00-003 Mar 1998
18. Divide by Ten #1998-03-10-00-00-0010 Mar 1998
19. Divide by Five #1998-03-17-00-00-0017 Mar 1998
20. Divide by Three #1998-03-24-00-00-0024 Mar 1998
Measure
21. Sports Day #1999-01-12-00-00-0012 Jan 1999
22. The King's New Clothes #1999-01-19-00-00-0019 Jan 1999
23. Decorating #1999-01-26-00-00-0026 Jan 1999
24. Treasure Hunt #1999-02-02-00-00-002 Feb 1999
25. Holidays #1999-02-09-00-00-009 Feb 1999


Credits

The actors playing the Kings remained the same for most of the series, but almost all of the other roles were recast multiple times.

Dancers & Acrobats Sarah-Jane Honeywell

Carl Parris
Adrian Porter
Gary John Cross
Denise Cresswell (Tables)
Richard Roe (Tables)
Claire Hopper (Money & Division)
Steen Young (Money, Division & Measure)
Amy Lewis (Money & Division)
Paul Kasey (Measure)
Denise Ogilvie (Measure)

Voices Marie Phillips as Goyle

Phill Woodfine as Gar
Paul Mark Elliot as Brimstone
Kim Chandler as Digit
Laura Harling as animation voice (Tables)
Sam Elsayeb as animation voice (Tables)

Singers Rita Campbell (Tables)

Frido Ruth (Tables)

Written by Simon Davies (Money, Division & Measure)

Chris Lillicrap (Tables)
Michael Malaghan
Neil Ben (Tables, Money & Division)
Kjartan Poskitt (Tables)

Consultant Pam Bailey (Tables, Money & Division)

Robecca Thomas (Measure)

Education Officer Su Hurrell (Tables)
Education Advisor Shelagh Scarborough (Money, Division & Measure)
Choreographer Stephen Mear (Tables, Money & Division)

Kevan Allen (Measure)

Songs by Simon Davies
Music composed by Sandy Nuttgens

Mike Scott

Designer Shaun Moore (Tables)

Red Rhino (Money & Division)
David Bevin (Measure)
Jane Cecchi (Measure)

Graphics Paul Kavanagh (Tables)
Animation Bevanfield Films (Tables)

Tony Garth Animation Ltd (Money & Division)
Blue Sunflower Animation (Measure)

Executive Editor Frank Flynn (Tables)
Executive Producer Anne Brogan (Money & Division)

Clare Elstow (Measure)

Producer David Scott Cowan (Tables, Money & Division)

Andrea Christodoulou (Money & Division)
Elaine Mullings (Measure)

Director Neil Ben (Tables, Money & Division)

Ken Robertson (Measure)

Maths Man

At the Superhero School space station a young recruit enters a learning pod, hoping to develop the skills to become... Maths Man!

In the first unit, Fractions, the recruit (Craig Heaney) is guided by a mathematical tutor called Her Wholeness. The format allows Maths Man to be directly taught maths while viewers see him work things out, without the viewers appearing to be taught directly. There are intervals for a quiz show, Find the Fraction with Colin Cool, and a sports show called Sports Stand with presenter Sue Harker and pundit Harry Fraction.

Maths Man even appears to have a super villain to contend with. Each week he ventures down to Earth to help children overcome the mathematical mischief caused by the dastardly diddling Diddler.

A different recruit (Paul Vates) appears in the following unit, Shape and Space. He is guided by a tutor called His Wholeness and aided by the friendly on-board computer VERA (Voice Enhanced Resource Activator) and an animated character called 2D3D who appears in his virtual reality glasses. This recruit also faces regular challenge on planet Earth, but he also talks directly to the camera, to his "maths team" viewing from their classroom. At the end of each episode His Wholeness sets a puzzle for the maths team.

The same recruit appears in the final Megamaths unit, Problem Solving, sent down to Earth to tackle problems such as dividing eggs on a farm, weighing animals at an RSPCA centre, and buying ice cream on the beach.

Her Wholeness and Maths Man in 2000
His Wholeness and Maths Man in 2001


Episodes

Most Maths Man episodes were 20 minutes long, but the Problem Solving episodes were only 15 minutes.


# Title Broadcast
Fractions
26. Halves and Quarters #2000-01-17-00-00-0017 Jan 2000
27. Quarters and Eighths #2000-01-24-00-00-0024 Jan 2000
28. Fifths and Tenths #2000-01-31-00-00-0031 Jan 2000
29. Thirds and Sixths #2000-02-07-00-00-007 Feb 2000
30. Decimals/Fractions #2000-02-14-00-00-0014 Feb 2000
Shape and Space
31. 2-Dimensional Shapes #2001-01-19-00-00-0019 Jan 2001
32. 3-Dimensional Shapes #2001-01-26-00-00-0026 Jan 2001
33. Symmetry #2001-02-02-00-00-002 Feb 2001
34. Patterns #2001-02-09-00-00-009 Feb 2001
35. Moving Around #2001-02-16-00-00-0016 Feb 2001
Problem Solving
36. One Step Problems #2002-01-07-00-00-007 Jan 2002
37. Two Step Problems #2002-01-14-00-00-0014 Jan 2002
38. Measure: Length and Time #2002-01-21-00-00-0021 Jan 2002
39. Measure: Mass and Capacity #2002-01-28-00-00-0028 Jan 2002
40. Money #2002-02-04-00-00-004 Feb 2002

Credits

Fractions Starring Craig Heaney as Maths Man

Kim Vithana as Her Wholeness
Simon Davies as Colin Cool / Harry Fraction
Liz Anson as Sue Harker

Shape and Space Starring Paul Vates as Maths Man

Clive Perrott as His Wholeness
Su Douglas as VERA

Problem Solving Starring Paul Vates as Maths Man

Paven Virk
Su Douglas

Written by Simon Davies
Music by Archie Brown
Executive Producer Clare Elstow
Assistant Producer Lubna Malik
Series Producer Allan Johnston

Megamaths

Resources

Megamaths teachers cover autumn 1996.jpg
Megamaths Tables cover.jpg
Megamaths teachers cover spring 1999.jpg
Megamaths Mental Maths 7-8 Activity Book cover.jpg

Teacher's notes were published each term that the series was broadcast from 1996 to 1999. They were available separately for each unit for a while afterwards.

Activity books, containing photocopiable worksheets and lyrics to the songs from each unit were also available for the table mountain units. The activity books features the playing card characters but could still be used independently of the TV programmes. The teacher's notes also included photocopiable activity sheets, but completely different ones.

Activity packs were available including the activity books and audio cassettes with songs and music from the TV programmes, and there were A2 posters for the classroom wall.

There was a Megamaths: Tables CD-ROM released in 1998, and a website at http://www.bbc.co.uk/megamaths (archived 2005) with games set in the castle.

All of the Megamaths units were released on Video Plus packs, containing slightly edited versions of the episodes on video, teacher's notes and the relevant activity books.

The Fractions unit was also released on a DVD Plus pack in summer 2006. Fractions was chosen because it was "the most popular of the Megamaths units, covering an especially challenging part of the curriculum in an enjoyable and intriguing way."[1]

Megamaths Video Plus covers.jpg

Related programmes

Links

Sources & References

  1. Fractions was "the most popular unit..." etc according to BBC Active (2007) BBC Active Primary Maths Catalogue 2007. Harlow: BBC Active, p.4.


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