Something a bit less well known, Bitsa was an arts and crafts programme that aired from 1991 to 1996 on Children's BBC. A huge fan of 'Take Hart' with the late-great Tony Hart and his plasticine side-kick, Morph, Bitsa offered a less formal approach with fun and energetic presenters, colourful set designs and wacky creations made from everyday items. Being a kid who constantly built things, this programme was an instant hit with my overactive imagination. Indeed, I even wrote in to the show and received a much cherished signed photo of the presenters along with a yellow instruction booklet containing a selection of things to make.
The show's format involved the two presenters demoing a 'make' before getting the scissors, glue, paper etc out themselves to take you through the construction process. All of this usually happened within the colourfully designed studio; however, on occasion, they did get out and about.
About half way through the programme, 'Hands' would take centre stage, see below:
For some, this robotic character stashed away backstage, sporting a fez and what looks like a Hitler tash from a distance was profoundly disturbing as he suddenly came to life in a torrent of nonsensical noises. However, I adored this quirky segment with Hands being a highlight of the show for me that I couldn't wait to see. Moreover, the simplicity and fun of his creations were attractive as I could knock them together in minutes. Legendary stuff.
The other highlight of the show for me was at the end when the two presenters had a 'big make' to do against the clock. This was a rather chaotic and exciting finale with the presenters running to the main area of the set and consulting a machine where children would appear on a screen and say numbers. These numbers corresponded to large boxes of materials on the set's shelves which the presenters would take and throw all over the ground to create a random assortment of items with which to accomplish the task set. To inject even more energy in to this part of the show there was also the 'ticking clock' which involved the entire stage backdrop coming to life in a flurry of colour and cogs. With the presenters running around in this now-messy set, the music constantly increasing in tempo and a highly animated and colourful backdrop, this was pure excitement from start to finish.
To sum up, I adored Tony Hart but the pace and excitement this show injected in to the arts and crafts format was wonderful and, for me at least, ranks up there with the best of children's TV.