Middle English

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started22nd Sep 1981
ended17th Oct 2001
last rpt19th Mar 2004
23 school years
duration15 mins, 20 mins, 30 mins, 80 mins, 85 mins & 90 mins
age rangeAge 9-11 & Age 11-13
languageenIn English

Middle English is an ITV and later Channel 4 schools TV series from the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, covering Language, Literature, Drama, Poetry, Books and Media for primary and secondary school pupils.

  • parent series for all of Thames TV's (and later Channel 4 Schools') English programmes for the middle years of school, including documentaries on writers, the media and language skills, poetry programmes and regular, serialised dramas
  • replaced Writers' Workshop and About Books, and included repeats from both series in its first year
  • despite the series title, Middle English was on air for over a decade before it offered a programme on Chaucer and mentioned the Middle English language in spring 1992


  • Shadow Cage by Philippa Pearce (2 episodes, autumn 1981)
  • Izzy by Jan Mark (3 episodes, spring 1983
  • The Shrinking of Treehorn by Florence Parry Heide, an animated version (1 episode, summer 1983)
  • A Game of Soldiers by Jan Needle (3 episodes, autumn 1983)
  • The Night Swimmers by Betsy Byars, an American production (3 episodes, spring 1984)
  • Kurt, Mungo, B.P. and Me (spring 1984), Fast Forward (autumn 1986) and Mistaken Identity (autumn 1990), 3 separate plays about the experiences of a poet, written by and featuring Roger McGough
  • Mime, three scenes told in mime by the Moving Picture Mime Show (1 episode, spring 1984)
  • The Sea Green Man by Peter Carter (4 episodes, autumn 1984)
  • You Don't Have to Use Words, extracts from a dance performance by children re-telling The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper (1 episode, summer 1985)
  • Interference by Jan Mark (3 episodes, autumn 1985)
  • The Chinese Word for Horse by John Lewis, an animated version (1 episode, summer 1986)
  • Mr Magus is Waiting for You by Gene Kemp (3 episodes, autumn 1986)
  • African Jigsaw, a musical by Peter Rose & Anne Conlon (1 episode, autumn 1987)
  • The Finding by Nina Bawden (4 episodes, spring 1988)
  • Rose, based on Trouble Half-Way by Jan Mark, originally shown for adults in October 1986 (4 episodes, summer 1988)
  • True Romance by Frank Cottrell Boyce (2 episodes, spring 1989)
  • The Enchanted Toad by Judy Corbalis (1 episode, spring 1989)
  • The Thief by Jan Needle (4 episodes, summer 1989)
  • The Strangers, based on Island of the Strangers by Catherine Sefton (4 episodes, spring 1990)
  • The Secret by Ruth Thomas (3 episodes, spring 1991)
  • The Longest Road, a role-playing production by the Greenwich Young People's Theatre (2 episodes, spring 1991)
  • Down and Out by Bernard Ashley (1 episode, autumn 1991)
  • The Fireboy (2 episodes, spring 1993)
  • Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare (5 episodes, spring 1994, and an extended 85-minute version)
  • The Egg Man by Janni Howker (2 episodes, spring 1995)
  • The Room, a short film by Jeff Balsmeyer (autumn 1995)
  • The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare (5 episodes, spring 1996, and an extended 80-minute version)
  • Macbeth by William Shakespeare (5 episodes, spring 1998, and an extended 86-minute version)
  • Under the Hawthorn Tree by Maria Conlon-McKenna (4 episodes, spring 1999)
  • Attila the Hen by Paddy Mounter, an animated version (2 episodes, autumn 2000)
  • Cinderella, a modern re-telling (3 half-hour episodes, autumn 2000)
  • there was also dramatised content in other episodes, for example the Crime Story episode from autumn 1983, a documentary about Nina Bawden, included dramatised extracts from the author's novel The Robbers, the Short Stories: Storehouse II episode from autumn 1988 covered the winning entries in a children's short story competition held the previous year, with enacted or animated productions of the stories, and the Knowledge About Language episode on Chaucer in spring 1992 included a children's enactment of The Pardoner's Tale

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