Round the Twist voted favourite nostalgic Aussie Kids’ Show

Survey of adults who grew up watching Aussie Kids' TV finds shows have a lasting impact.

Round the Twist has been voted Australia’s Favourite Kids’ Show in a survey of adults who grew up watching Australian-made Children’s television.

A Swinburne University of Technology-based research team analysed 542 survey responses and conducted 21 extended interviews with adults who grew up watching television in Australia, to measure the lasting impact of watching Children’s TV.

These were the Top 10 shows:

1. Round the Twist
2. Play School
3. Mr Squiggle
4. Skippy the Bush Kangaroo
5. Blinky Bill
6. The Ferals
7. Lift Off!
8. Ship to Shore
9. Bananas in Pyjamas
10. The Genie from Down Under

 “This study reveals just how significant Australian children’s TV is to the cultural life of our nation,” says Chief Investigator Dr Joanna McIntyre. “It’s provided lasting experiences of wonder and a continuing sense of belonging to generations of Australians for more than 60 years.

“This research also shows that although children watch TV differently in the streaming era, digital platforms actually offer new ways to share and connect via beloved Aussie children’s content.”

The report found that for nine out of 10 survey respondents, some of their favourite shows growing up were Australian.

It also identified that the most memorable Australian children’s shows were ‘cheeky’ or ‘edgy’ and often included a particular formula – a mix of weird, quirky elements with depictions of relatable Australian life.

The survey found that the iconic series Round the Twist was not only the favourite show among respondents, but also the show most revisited in their adult years, followed by Play School and Mr Squiggle.

More than half of those aged 51 and older and more than two thirds of those aged 41-50 have revisited children’s shows in recent years, while those aged 18-40 were the most likely to revisit childhood favourites (74%).

Chief Investigator Dr Joanna McIntyre said: “This study reveals just how significant Australian children’s TV is to the cultural life of our nation. It has provided lasting experiences of wonder and a continuing sense of belonging to multiple generations for more than 60 years. This research also shows that although kids watch TV differently in the streaming era, digital platforms actually offer new ways to share and connect via beloved Aussie children’s content.”

Australian Children’s Television Foundation CEO Jenny Buckland said: “This research demonstrates how what we watch when we’re young has a profound impact, shaping our experience of Australian culture and connecting us with our community and peers. This is why it’s so important to support Australian children’s content via measures like regulation and public investment. Those wonderful shows people are remembering from the 1990s and 2000s were all supported by public policies. We need to make sure children today have the same opportunities to grow up with Australian shows.”

The Australian Children’s Television Cultures research project is based at Swinburne University of Technology, in collaboration with RMIT University. The report’s authors are Dr Joanna McIntyre, Associate Professor Liam Burke, Dr Djoymi Baker, and Dr Jessica Balanzategui. The research is supported by the Australian Children’s Television Foundation.

Kids’ TV Memories: Audience Perspectives on the Roles and Long-term Value of Australian Children’s Television is here.

17 Responses

  1. Its amazing how many of those shows pop into your head years later. I still randomly get the Round the Twist theme song stuck in my head lol. My husband and I both do the ‘hurry up’ and ‘upside down, upside down’ lines from Mr Squiggle too which just confuses our kids.
    I loved Lift Off, I actually still have an EC doll that my daughter has now claimed. Round The Twist was also a fave, it was a good show with some great episodes and yes the re-casting was annoying but understandable given how long the show went for.
    A lot of these do seem to be from a very particular era around 1990’s, which funnily enough is my childhood so I do recognise 9 of the 10 shows. Skippy, Playschool and Mr Squiggle do all pre-date that era but still would have been running in the 90’s.

  2. This is wonderful news for Queensland Theatre who just announced ‘Round The Twist The Musical’ as the final show in their 2024 Season. Will sell like hotcakes! Surprisingly I never watched it but did adore ‘Elly & Jools’, ‘Miraculous Mellops’ & ‘The Wayne Manifesto’

  3. It would be interesting to see a listing of the kids game shows that aired after school. presumably Amazing would be #1. I remember Now You See It, Big Square Eye, Vidiot. But after that I’m drawing a bit of a blank. vaguely remember, Stop Stop Go?, Wipeout? the one with the giant rubbery nose?

  4. Very good list of Children’s shows there. Back in my pre school days, my teacher and the kids used to watch Play School (from a recorded VCR tape) for education. It was nostalgic. I was too young to remember the episodes we watched back in our early childhood days.
    I also enjoyed watching BIJ, Mr Squiggle, Skippy and more. Would like to see some old episodes of Skippy and BIJ through 9Now and ABC iview respectively.

  5. Does it happen to specify whether it’s the Yoram Gross cartoon version of ‘Blinky Bill’ or the ABC puppet version? The latter was the one that has my heart as a kid.

    Also, loved ‘Round the Twist’, but the constant recasting frustrated me no end. I more or less lost interest when it stopped being based on Paul Jennings stories.

  6. I loved all these shows and I was not a kid…Round the Twist was my fave…My MIL reckoned I made my kids watch PlaySchool and SesameSt…so I had an excuse to watch.

  7. the problem with revisiting shows from childhood when you are over a certain age is that those shows are not available anywhere to watch, not even on DVD. One of my favourites was Secret Valley. Good luck finding that anywhere to watch legally.

  8. The first series of Round the Twist had best casting. One more season would have been great to see what spooky things happened to Ariel the baby of Fay and Tony.

  9. What were over 50s doing watching kids shows in the 1990s? There were great sitcoms and dramas on from 7pm till 11:30pm 5 nights a week, and later shows like Treks, Homicide:LOTS, Sopranos, Six Feet Under. I was recording loads of stuff and watching it all weekend to keep up. I saw a bit of Round The Twist and Spellbinder in repeats during Summer, but never had time to watch afternoon TV serieously.

    My favourite kids TV show was The Curiosity Show.

  10. Another skewed list – because it is demographically based.

    Children of the 60’s and early 70’s would have voted for “The Magic Circle Club” and “Adventure Island”

    When Adventure Island was cancelled in 1972 (quoting Wikipedia)
    “A group of MPs headed by David Kennedy launched a “Save Adventure Island” campaign during which questions were asked in Parliament.”

    How many of the above shows had that honour?

  11. Watching most of these top 10 shows after school were a great memory. Especially Round the Twist and Ship to Shore (and the co-production of Spellbinder). Who can ever forget that famous theme songs from Round the Twist. So catchy.

    Kids variety programs were great then too – from Agro’s Cartoon Connection, to Saturday Disney and The Big Arvo. (Even Hey Hey its Saturday was in a similar situation in its early days).

    I know most children’s shows are on streaming sites these days, and very little on FTA. So its even harder for kids to watch these shows on at the same time.

  12. I was a middle aged adult with no children when this show first appeared and I remember watching it occasionally on a lazy Friday afternoon and it was a great show for kids and adults alike.

    Over the years the Australian Children’s Television Foundation has produced some great children’s TV and I don’t think they get the recognition they deserve. I often wondered how they went overseas, because I though these shows were fertile grounds for overseas sales, in terms of providing a different perspective of what life is for children in other countries.

  13. I’m 48 and love all the old children’s shows still, from when my partner and I were young. .
    We’re currently watching Prisoner with our 11 year old son (up to ep 50, a long way to go).
    We’ve already seen I Dream of Jeannie, Get Smart, Mr Ed, various old game shows and watched a stack of movies from the 70’s to 90’s.
    The funny part is when he comes home from school and I think it’s the older teachers who enjoy talking with our son, as the other kids have no clue what he’s talking about sometimes LOL.

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