Time for a Story

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started16th Sep 1985
ended25th Jun 1987
last rpt2nd Jun 1990(and again in 1996)
5 school years
duration10 mins
subject 📚EnglishReading
age rangeAge 3-5 & Age 5-7
languageenIn English
ITV early readingHierarchyPrevious.gifPrevious series: Let's Read with Basil Brush Next series: Story World HierarchyNext.gif

Time for a Story is an ITV schools TV series from the 1980s, covering Reading for primary school pupils.

Bill Oddie

A simple reading series in which Bill Oddie reads out a children's story and talks about the plot, illustrations and words. The stories and illustrations were original to the series, but commissioned from established children's authors including Hazel Townson and Tony Ross.

In each episode Bill introduces the story, and then tells it to viewers with illustrations and some key words and phrases shown full screen. Afterwards he recaps the story or begins some activity to encourage viewers to go on discussing what they have seen with their teacher.


# Title Broadcast
1. One Up 16 Sep 1985
2. The Clatterbang Clock 23 Sep 1985
3. Oscar Buys the Biscuits 30 Sep 1985
4. Otto's Little Hat 7 Oct 1985
5. Who Heeds the Warning? 14 Oct 1985
6. Anansi's Secret 21 Oct 1985
7. What's in a Name? 4 Nov 1985
8. Present Time 11 Nov 1985
9. King of all the Birds 18 Nov 1985
10. Roly Bear and the Colours of White 25 Nov 1985
11. Tortoise's Tug-of-War 6 Jan 1986
12. Muddy Milly 13 Jan 1986
13. Two of a Kind 20 Jan 1986
14. Spacemare 27 Jan 1986
15. Bird on a Bus 3 Feb 1986
16. The Wizard of Everything 10 Feb 1986
17. No Hanky-Panky 24 Feb 1986
18. Just You Wait! 3 Mar 1986
19. Christabel's Cream-Bun 10 Mar 1986
20. Fairy Story 17 Mar 1986
21. A Wakeful Night 27 Apr 1987
22. Someone Special 7 May 1987
23. Gussy 14 May 1987
24. Fear-No-Bear 21 May 1987
25. When the Moon Winked 4 Jun 1987
26. The Boy Who Wanted To Be King 11 Jun 1987
27. The Little Witches 18 Jun 1987
28. Zap! 25 Jun 1987

Each episode was stand-alone and in subsequent years there were repeated in a different order from the original transmissions. The series as a whole was intended to provide a wide range of story themes, styles of text and illustration and different follow-up activities, but the order that the episodes were seen in did not matter - the stories' level of difficulty did not change.


Presenter Bill Oddie
Stories by Bernard Ashley

Sara & Stephen Corrin
Adèle Geras
Sally Grindley
Grace Hallworth
Dick King-Smith
Naomi Lewis
Angela Littler
Hiawyn Oram
Tony Ross
Hazel Townson

Illustrators Keith Aldred

Bridget Appleby
Peter Clark
Jane Drake
Lyndon Evans
Anna Farrar
David Hughes

Advisers Margaret M. Clark

Wendy Dewhirst

Design Margaret Coombes
Director Peter Plummer (1985-86)

Richard Guinea (1987)

Producer Julia Spark


Pupils' books

All of the stories featured in the programmes was published as a small children's reading book, containing the full text of the story read on TV and some of the illustrations. They were sold in packs covering a whole school term.

Teacher's notes

Autumn 1985 notes
Autumn 1987 notes

Booklets of teacher's notes covering one school term at a time.

They contained context for the series and programme notes including a summary of every story giving the characters, theme and narrative information for teachers' reference, plus a rationale for the story explaining its purpose for teaching. There are also follow-up suggestions and lists of related stories, songs and poems which could be used in class.

For the first two years the notes had white coloured covers (left), but from 1987 onwards different colours were used (right).


The stories were also published on audio cassettes so that children could hear the readings again away from the TV.

There were separate cassettes for the autumn, spring and summer terms.


  • 1985-86: Mondays 9:59am, repeated Thursdays 9:42am (autumn, spring & summer)
  • 1986-87: Mondays 9:59am, repeated Thursdays 9:42am
    (autumn, spring & summer. Not on Grampian or Scottish on Thursdays; due to the May Day holiday most summer term programmes were shown first on Thursdays and repeated on Mondays)
  • 1987-88: Mondays 11:29am, repeated Thursdays 11:03am
    (autumn, spring & summer. Not in the HTV Wales area on Thursdays; due to the May Day holiday most summer term programmes were shown first on Thursdays and repeated on Mondays)
  • 1988-89: Mondays 11:29am, repeated Thursdays 11:03am
    (autumn, spring & summer. not in the HTV Wales, Border, Scottish or Grampian areas on Mondays; due to the May Day holiday most summer term programmes were shown first on Thursdays and repeated on Mondays)
  • 1989-90: Mondays 11:29am, repeated Thursdays 11:03am
    (summer term only, Story World was shown in the autumn and spring; not in the HTV Wales area on Thursdays; due to the May Day holiday most programmes were shown first on Thursdays and repeated on Mondays)

Time for a Story was later repeated on the satellite channel Granada Plus, on Tuesday and Friday mornings at 6:45am. All 28 episodes were shown, from Tuesday 1st October 1996 to Friday 3rd January 1997. It was then replaced by Granada's children's programme The Magic Ball.

Sources & References

  • ITN Source (Granada TV archive catalogue)
  • Satellite Times TV listings (1996-97)
  • Thames (1987) ITV Schools Annual Programme Guide 1987/88. London: Thames Television
  • Time for a Story teacher's notes (1985-90)


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