Merry-Go-Round: Keep Up with the Times

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started26th Apr 1976
ended21st Jun 1976
last rpt3rd May 1981
6 school years
duration5 mins
age rangeAge 7-9
languageenIn English

Keep Up with the Times is a unit of the BBC schools TV series Merry-Go-Round from the 1970s and 1980s, covering Mathematics for primary school pupils.

Two animated birds investigate, and argue about, the times tables, in these short cartoon programmes. Each week a different table is covered, and the birds link together footage of children counting out the table, or sorting themselves into groups, and animated sequences showing patterns and tricks.

The birds feed numbers into a "times machine" which outputs the results of a multiplication, so when they are looking at the two times table they first feed in the number 1, and get the number 2, which they feed back into the machine to get 4, then 8 and 16 and so on. Towards the end of the series the machine is reversed to become a division machine.

The birds on Merry-Go-Round

The Keep Up with the Times programmes were first shown in summer 1976, paired with 15-minute programmes on the senses and an animated (in still pictures) retelling of The Odyssey to make up complete 20-minute episodes of Merry-Go-Round. In spring 1977 they were shown for the first time as stand-alone five minute programmes, still listed as part of Merry-Go-Round, but separate from the main broadcasts of that series. The programmes were repeated several more times in subsequent years, sometimes as part of a longer Merry-Go-Round programmes, and other times as stand-alone 5-minute broadcasts.

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