Watch: Seaside Holiday with Magic Grandad

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started17th Jan 2001
ended31st Jan 2001
last rpt20th Jun 2008
8 school years
duration15 mins
subject 🏛️HistorySocial History
age rangeAge 5-7
languageenIn English
Magic GrandadHierarchyPrevious.gifPrevious unit: Famous PeopleNext unit: ToysHierarchyNext.gif

Seaside Holiday with Magic Grandad is a unit of the BBC schools TV series Watch from the 2000s, covering Social History for primary school pupils.

Trevor Peacock as Magic Grandad

A different Magic Grandad who lives at the seaside appears in this series of programmes. This Grandad's magic relies on his collection of old cine films - when they are projected he is able to take his grandchildren Tom and Nikki 'into' the films and back to the time when they were made. They are all dressed in appropriate period clothes when they arrive.

All of their trips to the past take them back to 1901, where they meet the Leyton family: well-educated young Lily, eccentric Mr Leyton who has all of the latest inventions, invalid Mrs Leyton who apparently has laryngitis and has been brought to the seaside as a cure, and their matriarch Cecilia Bracknell-Smythe or "Grandmama" who holds strong Victorian values. Grandmama is particularly enamoured of Grandad, especially when he gives his name as George William Green and she takes him to be a member of the William-Green family, which impresses her.

There is also an eager commercial photographer who crosses paths with Grandad and the Leytons on several occasions and never misses an opportunity to sell his services.

Grandad is played by Trevor Peacock.


Quick episode list

# Title Broadcast
1. The Promenade 17 Jan 2001
2. The Beach 24 Jan 2001
3. Entertainment 31 Jan 2001

Num Title 1st Broadcast
1. The Promenade 17 Jan 2001
Magic Grandad The Promenade.jpg

Nikki and Tom are left at their "bonkers" Grandad's seaside home by their parents. Grandad shows them some old films that he has got out, some showing himself as a child 50 years ago, and others showing life at the seaside 100 years ago. The children want to find out more about the olden days and so they all walk into the projector screen and find themselves in 1901.

Magic Grandad The Promenade title.jpg

They see bicycles, including a penny farthing, and Grandad is distracted by the arrival of a motor car driven by Mr Leyton. Grandad's party and the Leytons explore the promenade together, buying a souvenir and a hokey pokey (ice cream). Lily loses her souvenir and suspicion falls on some poor children visiting courtesy of the "Never-Seen-The-Sea-Before Fund", but they turn out to be innocent.

When they return to the present Tom and Nikki enjoy ice lollies and see the surprising sights of the modern promenade.

Alternative title: this episode is sometimes billed as The Promenade and Souvenirs.

2. The Beach 24 Jan 2001
Magic Grandad Seaside The Beach.jpg

Tom and Nikki see film of a young Grandad swimming in the sea with an old-fashioned rubber ring, and his mother attempting to change under a towel. When they go back 100 years they immediately go off to find a bathing machine and change into their own old-fashioned swimming costumes.

They meet the Leytons who are relaxing on the beach, and discover there is a charge for almost everything! Grandmama is unimpressed with the women who are vulgarly raising their skirts to paddle in the sea. She attempts to force Mrs Leyton to drink a glass of sea water as part of her cure.

Magic Grandad Seaside The Beach title.jpg

The children go off to watch a Punch & Judy show and when they return Mr Leyton has produced a hand-cranked film camera and he records the film they had seen in Grandad's house at the start of the episode. They all go to change for a swim and Grandad has a most unfortunate encounter with Grandmama in a bathing machine.

Alternative title: this episode is sometimes billed as On The Beach.

3. Entertainment 31 Jan 2001
Magic Grandad Seaside Entertainment.jpg

Grandad shows film of himself as a child playing on the amusements, including a rifle range. He takes Tom and Nikki back to 1901 and they explore the attractions of the pier - What The Butler Saw, a fortune teller machine, a flea circus and a seafood stall.

They come across the female Leytons half way down the pier, but Grandmama refuses to go any further as she thinks the pier is swaying - she makes an impressive recovery when Grandad arrives though. Mr Leyton is busy giving a 'moving picture show' in the theatre on the pier, but Lily recognises a film can that Nikki picked up to be her Papa's moving pictures.

Magic Grandad Seaside Entertainment title.jpg

Tom is dispatched to return the film to Mr Leyton at the theatre. He arrives just as Leyton is having a telephone call having nearly run out of time to start his moving picture show. The film includes a scene of a car speeding towards the camera, which makes Grandmama faint. Outside Grandad escapes from Grandmama's invitation to a hotel and he, Tom and Nikki return to the present and visit a loud amusement arcade on a modern pier.

The striptease film from the What The Butler Saw machine, which was clearly marked "Not For Children" in 1901, is shown as part of this primary schools programme made in 2001! This either demonstrates that standards of decency have changed significantly since the immediate post-Victorian era, or that 100 year old film material is so different from the film we are used to seeing today that it can't carry any of its original impact. Probably both.

Alternative title: this episode is sometimes billed as The Pier.



Miriam Margolyes as Grandmama
Trevor Peacock as Grandad
Michael Maloney as Mr Leyton
Robert Morgan as photographer
Sarah Huntley as Mrs Leyton
Georgina Hagen as Nikki
Nicholas Hoult as Tom
Jessica Mann as Lily
Owen Birch as Grandad as a boy

The Promenade with

Tessa Pritchard as Tom & Nikki's mum

The Beach with

Kerry Joy Stewart as photo lady
Paul Penlington as bench/bathing machine man
Joseph Cox as Billy

Entertainment with

Phylip Harries as theatre manager
Lynn Hunter as dunken lady 2
Carol Ashton-Ainswirth as drunken lady 1

Written by Judith Johnson
First assistant director Grietje Besteman
Production manager Paulette Gardiner
Production assistant Margaret Hulse
Second assistant director Dee Hellier
Film research Jill McLoughlin
Production designer Rachel Robertson
Editor Robyn Rogers
Director of photography Paul Godfrey
Executive producer Sue Nott
Produced and directed by Patrick Reams


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