Television TV

Words and Pictures

Words and Pictures is a British children's literacy TV programme that started in 1970 as a part of BBC Schools. It was a spin off of the BBC Schools programme, Look and Read, which was already providing the same type of practice and encouragement for older children.

The first series was presented by Gabriel Woolf with two episodes airing each week, one ("Programme A") at the beginning and the second ("Programme B") at the end. This was to cater for younger children and to allow teachers to do follow up work in between. The first series was set in an attic full of toys, who have adventures relating to phonics. A total of 16 episodes aired. 

Series two started in 1972 airing weekly for 20 episodes. The format and presenter had changed to being about a young man called Sam Samson (Tony Robinson) who daydreams about an island inhabited by "Boffs". This series was later repeated as Sam on Boffs' Island

Henry Woolf took over in 1975 with the setting changing again to a bookshop. His assistant was an Aniform puppet named Charlie and a "magic pencil". Magic pencil would describe and show how to form letters by using a rhyme with each letter. Each episode in this series contained songs and rhymes.  

In 1982 a fourth series began airing presented by Vicky Ireland. The format remained the same but the setting changed to a library. Vicky Ireland was the series' longest serving presenter, presenting 84 episodes from 1982 to 1989. An episode of this series is shown in a scene of the post-apocalyptic drama Threads; ten years after a nuclear war, characters are watching the programme via a still-functioning VCR in a makeshift school. 

In 1990 the programme was presented by Stuart Bradley and a puppet cat called Nutmeg, who could operate a word processor. This series alao contained footage from the outside world.

In 1992 the presenter had changed to Sophie Aldred, who continued to present studio-based programmes. The BBC also produced two VHS tapes, again presented by Sophie. Time For A Story featured some of the stories from the 1992/93 series and Alphabet Fun Time featured the phonic animations animated by Alan Rogers and Peter Lang with Magic Pencil.

For the following series in 1993, Michael Hobbs presented the show, again based in the studio and coloured letters were written by the Magic Pencil for the first time to join the white ones. Aldred was brought back for the next series due to her popularity. Aldred continued to present the show until its run in 2001, and also presented two specials, Phonics Special and Phonics Year 2, in 1999 and 2001. The last series was set in a lighthouse, and Aldred is visited by Sid the Seagull, Salty Sam the Sailor and Colin the Clam as well as actors who read out story books.

A spin-off series, aimed at younger children started airing in 1999, titled Words and Pictures Plus. This series was presented by Paul Ewing. The programmes proceeded at a slower pace, of one phonic per episode. This series was also produced on both VHS and DVD on the BBC Schools website. In 2001, a new collection of four Magic Pencil programmes began airing, which were edited from the Alphabet Fun Time VHS tape released in 1994, again presented by Sophie Aldred. 

A remake series of Words and Pictures with the subtitle "Fun with Phonics" was launched on CBeebies in 2006. This series was made up of short, four minute episodes, each concentrating on one particular letter sound. There were two presenters, Pui Fan Lee and William Vanderpuye, each presenting 22 of the 44 episodes in the series. Re-edited versions of the episodes, with some extra material, are available to buy on DVD in shops. These episodes were re-edited for school use, combining two episodes together.

Do You Remember Words and Pictures?

Do You Remember Words and Pictures?