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.