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The Best and Worst Kids TV For Adults

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by Chris Shepherdson (subscribe)
I'm a copywriter and freelance writer living in Melbourne. My novel, Another New York Murder, is available online.
Published September 4th 2013
A Parent's Guide to The Good, The Bad and The Annoying
We all know the classics: Bananas in Pyjamas, The Wiggles, Play School, and Sesame Street, and there is a good reason they are classics; they are the default selections when it comes to children's television, but they are also the Toyota Corollas of kids TV: solid, dependable but pretty dull.

So here's a list of the best and worst shows for you to watch with your kids. Some will have you hitting the ABC shop to buy box sets while others will have you reading your TV instructions on how to set the parental lock.

The Best:

The Mr Men Show:
The pick of the bunch. I have been known to watch this with no kids present. No longer the quaint, simply drawn men and women we grew up with, Mr Men 2.0 is a rebooted series where selected Mr and Little Miss' live together in constant hilarious conflict brought on by their monikered personalities. There's something refreshingly politically incorrect about this show where Mr Rude is French and Mr Pernickety (a revamped Mr Fussy) is German. On top of this is a Mr Messy who sounds uncannily like Tom Jones.

Kids tv shows, abc2, abc for kids, mr men show, octonauts, peppa pig, shaun the sheep, rastamouse
The new look Mr Bump. Courtesy

Shaun the Sheep: From Aardman Studios who brought us Wallace and Grommit and Chicken Run, these short, dialogue-free vignettes are just brilliant about a mischievous sheep who continually pulls the wool (pun intended) over the eyes of his hapless farmer and his dog.

It's about a group of cartoon animals who belong to a crack underwater rescue team roaming the Octoworld in their Octopod solving the Octoproblems of the underwater world. It's just awesome and you don't need kids to like it. It's also educational and you'll be amazed how much your kids know when you go to the Aquarium.

ABC for kids, ABC2, Kids TV shows, Octonauts, Mr Men, Peppa Pig, Rastamouse,SHaun the Sheep
Octonauts to the rescue! Courtesy

Yo Gabba Gabba: Could be in either category. Features songs that are so simple (or annoying) that sound as though they've been made up on the fly, but which your kids will happily sing in the car, in their room, in good company, so who cares. Much cooler than the wiggles.

Rastamouse: As you might suspect but still doubt, Rastamouse is Rastafarian mouse with a Jamaican accent who with his friends the Easy Crew, solves the problems of the world. What could be cooler? The kids will be oblivious to whatever else is implied by the 'Jamaican Culture' but you'll sit back and marvel that a show like this can be made. Watch for guest appearances from detective Sherlock Homey.

Kids tv shows, abc2, abc for kids, mr men show, octonauts, peppa pig, shaun the sheep, rastamouse
Rastamouse and Sherlock Homey. Courtesy

Peppa Pig: Impossible not to like this show with its primitive animation and voice talent out of the Royal Shakespeare Company. The best thing is it's on almost exclusively during the witching hour of 5-6 PM. Clever people those children's television programmers!

Kids tv shows, abc2, abc for kids, mr men show, octonauts, peppa pig, shaun the sheep, rastamouse
Peppa Pig. Courtesy


Little Princess:
An annoying little girl with an Essex brogue who is basically a spoilt little so and so. She always gets her comeuppance in the end and lessons are learnt etc., but this is usually lost on your children who have only got as far as the "me me me" attitude.

In The Night Garden: Sure it has a sweet theme song and it goes for half an hour which is make or break with kids, -they'll either love it or be bored as soon as it starts- but I dare you to sit and watch an episode in its entirety. It's also on at the same time as Neighbours which is a sore point in our house.

Kids tv shows, abc2, abc for kids, mr men show, octonauts, peppa pig, shaun the sheep, rastamouse
Strange Goings on from In The Night Garden. Courtesy

Lazy Town: A bizarre hybrid of puppet and live action craziness starring/written/directed and produced by a former Icelandic gymnastics champion. As tempting as that now sounds, consider yourself warned.

Pororo: A Korean animated show about a penguin and his/her friends, featuring a mind splitting theme song and voice talent straight out of a foreign call centre. My kids love it so believe me when I tell you if yours haven't yet discovered it, keep them away! Not to be confused with Pingu, Pokyo or Poko.

Thomas The Tank Engine: It may be unfair for me to include this on this list but it just hasn't been the same since Ringo Starr left, proving that disrespect for drummers is not a problem unique to supergroups. And whatever you do, don't watch it on YouTube with American voices. Just so utterly wrong!

There are others that can fit in both categories and feel free to comment with your own good and bad.

All shows can be seen on ABC2 which is ABC for Kids, channel 22 on most digital services. Also available on the ABC iView app with further information on

All shows are also available on DVD at The ABC Shop as well as a large range of merchandise.
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Why? There's more to Kids TV than The Wiggles and Bananas
Your Comment
I LOVE Yo Gabba Gabba, I watch it even when my son's not home. But you're right, it's incredibly polarising, everyone I talk to about it either loves it or hates it. How can anyone hate a show that has The Flaming Lips singing about washing your hands?!
by Carly Ogborne (score: 3|4626) 2357 days ago
Hmm sorry to be pedantic but the little Princess certainly doesn't speak with an Essex accent she is voiced by the brilliant Jane Horrocks who is from Lancashire. it's narrated by Julian Clary which makes it a fairly subversive programme in the UK. Maybe it's a cultural thing but having a princess with such a working class accent and a transvestite gay man hosting a kids show gets my thumbs up.
by popps (score: 0|5) 2363 days ago
I loved the Mr. Men & Little Miss books, but I never got into the tv show. Do you have a favourite character? Mine was Mr. Topsy Turvy.
by Bryony Harrison (score: 4|12528) 2357 days ago
I agree with you about Mr Men - my personal favourite, too, and In the Night Garden just gives me the creeps. Great article, Chris.
by Geraldine Massey (score: 3|8126) 2335 days ago
You've just described what I've been thinking for the last 5 years! Brilliant! Except I have to agree with Popps...Little Princess is belly chuckle worthy. Bubble from Ab Fab & Julien Clarey, classic! You could add Poko, Arthur & Franklin to the cringe list. Blah!
by Stephanie Rae (score: 2|155) 2356 days ago
My 4 yo son shout: Daddy! Mr. Men, your favourite, is on TV... as soon as It starts!!
by busta (score: 0|3) 2363 days ago
But I LOVE Thomas & Friends! Remove it from the worst, it's brilliant! I love the original Railway Series books with additional characters like Wilbert, Albert, Pip and Emma. And also love the wooden Thomas that Christopher Awdry received. It is AWESOME! But I do agree that it sounds bad with an American voice over. You left me really upset by listing Thomas in the worst! My eyes are kinda teary seeing that you listed an epic classic with cool characters!
by ddede (score: 0|2) 2153 days ago
Thomas rules! It is so epic, its characters are all cool even the minor ones like Murdoch and Hank, and is a classic! Also, love the original Railway Series and it's additional characters like Wilbert and Albert. Can't believe you put it as one of the worst. Look how sad Thomas feels about your listing:
by ddede (score: 0|2) 2153 days ago
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