Horses and Belle

Apr 25th, 2008 | By | Category: Personal Columns

Children’s television is not what it was.

It was rationed and it was serious.

The special indulgence by the BBC was to show programmes for a period each morning during the school holidays, but they would be cultured and they would be improving. White Horses was screened one summer and Belle and Sebastian also got summer airings (unless the memory is unreliable). In the memory they were the height of sophistication, pictures of a world far more exciting than the depths of rural England. White Horses came with the sultry tones of the female singer who sang the unmistakable theme tune. In the memory, they were both French series – which shows how unreliable memory can be.

Youtube has the White Horses opening sequence – only an ignoramus would have thought the programme French. “But the captions are in German and those are Lippizaners”, said the young voice over the shoulder, “how did you imagine they were French?”

“What’s a Lippizaner?” thought the ignoramus.

Belle and Sebastian was French, even an ignoramus could be certain of that, it was Belle et Sébastien and the primary school teacher taught that “et” was French for “and”.

Belle and Sebastian had characters who were suave, who dressed like people from magazines. What had England to offer in response to French sophistication? The Double Deckers.

In retrospect, the programmes most suitable for an ignoramus were the anarchic ones – The Monkees, The Banana Splits, Crackerjack. The subtlety of White Horses and Belle et Sébastien would probably have been more appreciated by those who know what a Lippizaner is and who know what words are not French.

However, as an indulgence to an old ignoramus, (who now knows Lippizaners are Slovene) the sweet sound of Jacky singing the theme tune brings memories of days when six weeks of holiday was forever.

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  1. I too thought White Horses was set in France. In my head it was in the Camargue but no it’s Slovenia. The theme tune has been voted the greatest ever television them tune. I think you were forced to watch it because I wanted to see it because of the horses. I must ask Sarah.

  2. Ah Lipizzaners, the choice of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna . . beautiful things. I’ve never heard of White Horses but would have certainly watched it . . .she has a poor seat that girl and her horse is over the bit!

    The best children’s shows are on ABC (equivalent of the BBC) despite the odd awful cartoon, they have remarkable Aussie and English series that even I can tolerate. Round the Twist, The Worst Witch, BlueWater High . . of course in my time Skippy The Bush Kangaroo! I take it the school break has begun as our winter creeps in?

  3. The English summer break is from mid-July until the end of August – Oz is looking forward to spring before England reaches its summer.

    I used to love Skippy! “What’s that Skip? There’s been a car crash and you have applied first aid and alerted the emergency services”.

    Do you remember Boney?

  4. Haha indeed I do. A white NZ actor playing a black outback policeman! Hilarious. Pretty good view of life in the bush.

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