Near and Far

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started25th Sep 1975
ended20th Jun 1988
13 school years
duration20 mins
subject 🌏Geography
age rangeAge 9-11
languageenIn English

Near and Far is a BBC schools TV series from the 1970s and 1980s, covering geography for primary school pupils.

A wide-ranging geography series for primary school children, which covers different aspects of physical and social geography in an accessible and understandable way to help children to understand their environment.

The series presents independent units, 2 to 4 episodes long, on different topics which were designed to be taken on their own without committing to the entire year of programmes. They are particularly designed to support non-specialist geography teachers but they are also designed to present facts and approaches without covering any topic in its entirely, but supporting follow-up classroom work.

Filming a mountain expedition for Near and Far, shown in 1976


Near and Far replaced the earlier series People of Many Lands which had been running since the 1950s and which had presented a very straightforward, narrative account of different cultures around the world. People of Many Lands programmes on India, Sri Lanka, Australia and Italy were repeated as part of Near and Far in its first two years while it was establishing a full roster of new programmes.

Between 1976 and 1979 Near and Far established a solid two-year roster of programmes - although as the series was shown fortnightly to allow for follow-up time between broadcasts there were only 28 individual episodes needed to fill 2 years of broadcasts. This cycle of 28 programmes was repeated practically unchanged until 1983.

From 1983 the series begun to be updated to reflect recent trends in the teaching of geography, including additional programmes on leisure and recreation activities. Each of the two years in the broadcast cycle was rearranged so that they started at a local geographical level of a neighbourhood street and building, and moved to national and then international studies later in the year.

Near and Far: Now and Then

In 1986 a concerted effort was made to unite the BBC's history and geography offering for upper primary schools. The series The History Trail was replaced by a new history series called Now and Then.

Now and Then was specifically conceived as a companion to Near and Far. It was broadcast fortnightly in alternate weeks to Near and Far in the same slots, and covered the same topics as the geography series at broadly the same times, so that teachers could explore them from both a geographical and historical perspective.

Slide for Near and Far: Now and Then in 1987

In 1987 the two series were brought even closer together: still broadcast as separate series with different opening titles, but billed as a single programme called Near and Far: Now and Then, with the geographical Near and Far programmes mixed in amongst the historical Now and Then programmes in a more organic way, not alternating every fortnight.

Finally in 1988 the combination of geography and history programmes for this age group was completed, as both Near and Far and Now and Then were replaced by a new, combined series called Landmarks, which included repeats from both of its predecessors, rebranded with the Landmarks title, alongside new programmes.

Titles & Theme Music

The camera pulls out from children playing in their school playground to an aerial shot of the playground, then a satellite view of the town, a view of England, and finally the entire globe, from which the title Near and Far appears.

The theme music is a frankly eerie, Radiophonic rendition based on the nursery rhyme Girls and Boys Come Out to Play, with unsettling noises and increasing pitch and urgency as the picture moves out!


# Title Broadcast
The Street
1. What is a Street?** #1975-09-25-00-00-0025 Sep 1975
2. Overground, Underground #1975-10-09-00-00-009 Oct 1975
3. The Changing Street** #1975-10-23-00-00-0023 Oct 1975
Wind and Water
4. When the Wind Blows #1975-11-13-00-00-0013 Nov 1975
5. Water, Water Everywhere #1975-11-27-00-00-0027 Nov 1975
6. Earth in Action #1976-04-29-00-00-0029 Apr 1976
7. Life Must Go On #1976-05-13-00-00-0013 May 1976
Mound and Mountain
8. Not on the Level** #1976-05-27-00-00-0027 May 1976
9. Up in the Mountains** #1976-06-17-00-00-0017 Jun 1976
Where We Live
10. A Roof and Four Walls #1977-09-22-00-00-0022 Sep 1977
11. Exploring Your Neighbourhood #1977-10-06-00-00-006 Oct 1977*
12. The Only Town for Us #1977-10-20-00-00-0020 Oct 1977
13. Bars of Tin #1977-11-10-00-00-0010 Nov 1977
14. Bags of Sugar #1977-11-24-00-00-0024 Nov 1977
Hills and Mountains
15. Living in the Alps #1978-03-09-00-00-009 Mar 1978
Changing Places
16. Water Moves In #1978-04-20-00-00-0020 Apr 1978
17. Office Moves Out #1978-05-04-00-00-004 May 1978
18. Moving Here for Work #1978-05-18-00-00-0018 May 1978
19. Moving There for Work #1978-06-08-00-00-008 Jun 1978
Moving About
20. Getting to Work #1978-11-09-00-00-009 Nov 1978
21. Going on Holiday #1978-11-23-00-00-0023 Nov 1978
The Elements
22. Snow and Ice #1979-01-18-00-00-0018 Jan 1979
23. Streams and Rivers #1979-02-15-00-00-0015 Feb 1979
24. The Sea at Work #1979-03-08-00-00-008 Mar 1979
25. Using the Elements #1979-03-22-00-00-0022 Mar 1979
Open Spaces
26. Moorlands #1979-05-03-00-00-003 May 1979
27. Deserts #1979-05-17-00-00-0017 May 1979
28. Tundra #1979-06-07-00-00-007 Jun 1979
29. Grasslands #1979-06-21-00-00-0021 Jun 1979
Hills and Mountains
30. Farming the Hills #1983-11-24-00-00-0024 Nov 1983
Leisure and Recreation
31. Local Park #1984-05-10-00-00-0010 May 1984
32. The Great Outdoors #1984-05-24-00-00-0024 May 1984
33. Seaside #1984-06-14-00-00-0014 Jun 1984
34. Greek Island #1984-06-28-00-00-0028 Jun 1984
Builders and Buildings
35. Bricks #1984-09-20-00-00-0020 Sep 1984
36. Concrete #1984-10-04-00-00-004 Oct 1984
37. Timber #1984-10-18-00-00-0018 Oct 1984
The Rhine
38. Nations and Boundaries #1985-05-16-00-00-0016 May 1985
39. Exploring the Rhine #1985-06-06-00-00-006 Jun 1985
40. Exploiting the Rhine #1985-06-20-00-00-0020 Jun 1985
41. Meeting Points #1985-09-26-00-00-0026 Sep 1985
42. Above and Below #1985-10-10-00-00-0010 Oct 1985
43. Yesterday's Street Today #1985-10-24-00-00-0024 Oct 1985
44. Floods #1986-05-22-00-00-0022 May 1986
45. Drought #1986-06-12-00-00-0012 Jun 1986
All About Food
46. Working the Land #1988-01-11-00-00-0011 Jan 1988
47. The Dairy Farm #1988-01-18-00-00-0018 Jan 1988
48. Superstore #1988-02-08-00-00-008 Feb 1988
49. Fast Food #1988-02-15-00-00-0015 Feb 1988
Children's Work Programme
50. Over to You (1988) #1988-06-20-00-00-0020 Jun 1988

* - Exploring Your Neighbourhood was first shown as a Preview programme on Friday 13th May 1977 at 2:30pm.

** - Several episodes were revised during the run of the series, but these are not listed as separate episodes above.

  • What is a Street? and The Changing Street were first shown in autumn 1975, and then revised in light of teacher's comments when the series was repeated in autumn 1976, and the revised versions were shown thereafter (both episodes were repeated regularly until autumn 1983)
  • Up in the Mountains from summer 1976 was shown in a revised form from spring 1980 onwards, as it has a separate programme number in the BBC archives (it continued to be repeated until spring 1986).
  • Its companion episode Not on the Level also from summer 1976 was shown in a revised form for its final broadcast in spring 1986, as it also has a separate programme number in the BBC archives.


  • 1975-76 (autumn, spring & summer) - fortnightly Thursdays 10:25, repeated Mondays 14:18 on BBC1
  • 1976-77 (autumn, spring & summer) - fortnightly Thursdays 10:25, repeated Mondays 14:18 on BBC1
  • 1977-78 (autumn, spring & summer) - fortnightly Thursdays 10:25, repeated Mondays 14:18 on BBC1
  • 1978-79 (autumn, spring & summer) - fortnightly Thursdays 10:25, repeated Wednesdays 11:00 mostly on BBC1
  • 1979-80 (autumn, spring & summer) - fortnightly Wednesdays 14:18, repeated Thursdays 11:05 on BBC1
  • 1980-81 (autumn, spring & summer) - fortnightly Wednesdays 14:18, repeated Thursdays 11:05 mostly on BBC1
  • 1981-82 (autumn, spring & summer) - fortnightly Thursdays 11:05, repeated Wednesdays 14:18 mostly on BBC1
  • 1982-83 (autumn, spring & summer) - fortnightly Thursdays 11:05, repeated Wednesdays 14:18 mostly on BBC1
  • 1983-84 (autumn, spring & summer) - fortnightly Thursdays 11:05, repeated Tuesdays 14:15 on BBC2
  • 1984-85 (autumn, spring & summer) - fortnightly Thursdays 11:05, repeated Tuesdays 14:15 on BBC2
  • 1985-86 (autumn, spring & summer) - fortnightly Thursdays 11:00, repeated Tuesdays 14:15 on BBC2
  • 1986-87 (autumn, spring & summer) - fortnightly Mondays 14:15, repeated Tuesdays 11:17 on BBC2
  • 1987-88 (autumn, spring & summer) - weekly Mondays 13:38, repeated Thursdays 11:15 on BBC2, intermingled with episodes of Now and Then and billed as Near and Far: Now and Then


Presenters include

Mary Downing (1975-79, repeats to 1988)
Mari Pritchard (narrator 1984, repeats to 1987)
Mac Andrews (narrator 1985, repeats to 1988)
Simon Groom (1988)


Simon Catling Primary School Teacher, South London
Michael Storm Staff Inspector for Geography & Environmental Studies, ILEA


Robin Gwyn (1975-86)
Bruce Jamson (1975-76)
Allyson Read (1977)
David Wallace (1978-79)
David Taft (1978-79)
Clare Elstow (1988)
Judy Brooks (1988)
Nicholas Whines (1988)

Series producer

Robin Gwyn (1975-86)
Nicholas Whines (1988)


Teacher's notes

1976 teacher's notes

A booklet of teacher's notes was issued for each term of broadcasts.

In the first year these were the traditional small A5 sized text booklets (right).

In response to teachers' feedback the notes were expanded from the second year into much larger, A4 sized publications with pictures and pages of extensive follow-up notes on every episode (below). They were given pictorial covers including the series logo & title screen and were designed in a way which stood out from other schools publications of the same era.

From the very beginning and throughout the entire life of the series, the notes booklets included a pull-out or separate section of photographs, maps and other worksheet material for use in the classroom

Once Now and Then started in 1986 the notes for both series were combined into a single publication each term. In 1976 the notes cost 27p per term, and by 1986 the combined booklet cost £1.25 per term.

1977 teacher's notes
1978 teacher's notes


A number of published classroom wallcharts from the Pictorial Charts Educational Trust (PCET) were recommended to support the series

At first in 1982 a wallchart called What is a Map? was recommended, and later expanded to include charts on Mapping the Streets, Maps and Scale and Mapping the Hills.


A book called On the Map, "an illustrated exploration into the world of maps" by David Boardman was published by BBC Books in spring 1984 and recommended to accompany the series. Buy from Amazon

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