Watch: 90 Years Ago with Magic Grandad
90 Years Ago with Magic Grandad is a unit of the BBC schools TV series Watch from the 1990s and 2000s, covering Social History for primary school pupils.
Kimberley and Gary's great grandad can magically transport them into the past. Grandad's magic extends to allowing he and the children, even in modern dress, to be accepted as guests of the people they visit. The trips to the past are a secret, as the children's parents think that Grandad simply tells vivid stories.
This unit was originally titled "Switch On, Switch Off" as it is about the differences between the electrical appliances of modern times and the decidedly non-electrical life around the turn of the twentieth century. Since 1996 is has been billed as "90 Years Ago with Magic Grandad".
Grandad is played by Geoffrey Bayldon, and his first name is Albert.
Quick episode list
|In the Kitchen
|12 Jan 1993
|Cars and No Cars
|19 Jan 1993
|26 Jan 1993
|In the Kitchen
|12 Jan 1993
Grandad, Kimberley and Gary's modern breakfast of bacon and eggs with toast is interrupted when none of the electrical appliances will work. Grandad takes them back to a breakfast time 90 years ago, where the porridge has been cooking on the range all night and bacon is served up for the man of the house, while the children make do with bread and dripping. They discover the historical alternatives to central heating, washing machines and fridges.
|Cars and No Cars
|19 Jan 1993
Grandad, mum and the children are out in the car but they get a flat tyre. Grandad takes them back to see what happened when there were no cars, and they find themselves driving a pony and trap down an unpaved road at a time when most people still walked everywhere. They see old-fashioned signposts and shire horses pulling a large removals cart, and discover how the exhaust product of these old modes of transport was good for the garden. When the pony loses a shoe they visit the blacksmith to see how horseshoes were made and attached. They even see one of the first motor cars driving past.
|26 Jan 1993
Gary doesn't want to go for a bath, but Grandad says that when he was young they didn't even have a bathroom. With another song ("what if we needed the loo in the night? How did we wee without good light?") he takes the children back to the house 90 years ago, where gas lamps are lit and the olden-day children are given baths in a tin tub the front room on their weekly bath night. They discover how to get hot water, and they venture into the back yard by candlelight to use the privy. There is a knitting demonstration and all of the children are sent upstairs where there is one bed, and a "gazunder".
|In the Kitchen with
William Ilkley as Mr Deakin
|Cars and No Cars with
|Sandra Armstrong, Sallie Purkis
|A Spelthorne Production for BBC
Video Plus Pack / DVD Plus Pack
The three TV episodes on a video in a huge box, accompanied by a set of teacher's notes and a "90 Years Ago" wallchart by the Pictorial Charts Education Trust (PCET).
The Watch opening credits are replaced by "Video Plus" graphics and each episode is given an on-screen title. A short clip from a David Attenborough documentary which the children are watching on TV at the beginning of episode 3 is removed from this version, possibly for copyright reasons but I'm not sure. Otherwise the programmes are complete.
The Video Plus pack was released in 1995 costing £36.00. It then crept up to £38.00 before BBC Education's big video price reductions in 1998, when it came down to £29.99. By 2003 it was back up to £34.99+VAT (all previous prices were including VAT). ISBN 0 563 39816 7.
The pack was re-released as a DVD Plus Pack in 2006, initially for around £49.99+VAT. By 2009 it had gone up to £52.99+VAT. I am not sure whether the DVD pack still includes the wallchart from the video pack. ISBN 978 0 563 51653 8.
Switch On Switch Off Booklet
A 24 page factual booklet for children, one of a series of six Watch booklets for children released in 1994.
The booklets were available in packs of 5 (intended for classroom use) at £4.99, ISBN 0 563 351 934, or as part of a pack containing one of each of the 1994 Watch booklets at £5.99, ISBN 0 563 39761 6. They were offered for sale until around 1996.
An individual booklet of teacher's notes for all Watch programmes in a particular school term was issued in every term from autumn 1967 (when it started) to summer 1999. The Magic Grandad programmes were covered alongside the other units of Watch each term, with descriptions of the episodes, various suggestions for follow-up work and photocopiable worksheets.
From autumn 1999 onwards single, reusable sets of notes were produced, each covering a variety of linked units. Notes for the 90 Years Ago and Famous People units of Magic Grandad were included in a history booklet which also covered Time Treasures and Within Living Memory. The booklet originally cost £3.00 and the last time it was advertised was in 2002-3, when it was going for £3.99. ISBN 0 563 46496 8.
Magic Grandad Software
Software for Acorn computers for children to investigate family life and homes in 1995, 1965, 1935 and 1905, along with a teacher's manual.
The software was released in summer 1996 and was available until around 1999. It originally cost £29.95 for one copy, ISBN 0 563 95773 7, or £88.15 for a site licence.
Homes Big Book
A very large, colourful book, full of pictures, designed to be propped up in front of a class full of children. "Homes" was one of the very first in the series of "Magic Grandad's Big Book of History", released in autumn 2001 (the other was "Seaside Holidays"). It cost £19.99, ISBN 0 563 54367 1.
A smaller, booklet sized edition for children to handle themselves was published in autumn 2003 as part of the "Magic Grandad's Little Book of History" series, costing £17.99 for a pack of 4, ISBN 0 563 54897 5.
The whole Big Book series was re-released in 2006 as "Magic Grandad's E Big Book of History". This is basically a CD containing an interactive PDF copy of the Big Book and teacher's notes. It originally cost £49.99+VAT for a single copy, ISBN 978 0 563 51574 6, or £74.99+VAT for an unlimited user licence, ISBN 978 0 563 51602 6.
Homes Today and in the Past An educational game for Windows PCs and Macs, in which the animated Magic Grandad takes children on a tour of the homes of the 1900s and of today.
The CD-ROM was released in 2006 at £49.99+VAT for a single copy, ISBN 0563 51681 1, or £249.99+VAT for an unlimited user licence, ISBN 0563 5164 2. By 2009 the unlimited user licence was available for a slightly more sensible £82.50+VAT.
This unit was first broadcast in the spring term 1993 under the title Switch On, Switch Off, on Tuesdays at 11:00am, repeated on Fridays at 9:45am on BBC2. The very first episode on Tuesday 12th January 1993 was not broadcast in Northern Ireland due to an extra long episode of the secondary schools series Study Ireland - so the series did not actually reach Northern Ireland until Friday 15th January 1993.
It was then repeated in almost every school year on BBC2 for the next decade, which was an unusually large number of repeats even for the 1990s on BBC2. Only 1994-5 and 1997-8 did not include a broadcast of these programmes. The final outing on BBC2 was in the summer term 2003, on Thursdays at 10:35am. But even then the programmes continued to be broadcast on the Class TV service of schools programmes on the CBBC Channel. The last broadcast on CBBC was on Tuesday 5th June 2007, when all 3 episodes were shown one after the other.
Sources & References
See the main Magic Grandad page for a full list of sources. All references to teacher's notes within the episode guide are to the summer 1996 Watch teacher's notes. Most details of the resources, including prices and release dates, are based on the various BBC annual programme guides and primary catalogues.
- The pre-emption of the first broadcast of the first episode in Northern Ireland was explained in the BBC timetable wallchart for spring 1993. The television listings in the TES wrongly stated that Study Ireland would finish at 11:00 on that day, which would be correct for all future episodes but not for this particular one.