At the risk of sounding like our parents, when it comes to kids’ TV shows, they just don’t make them like they used to, do they?
The likes of Art Attack, Live & Kicking and Fun House defined the childhood of many 90s kids, and are still fondly remembered to this day.
As we kick off Rewind To The 90s, HuffPost UK’s nostalgic new series celebrating that decade’s telly, there’s no better place to start than with the series many of us grew up watching.
Here’s our official countdown of the 20 best kids shows from the 90s...
20. Miami 7
S Club 7 went on to become one of the biggest pop bands of the late 90s and early 00s, after making their debut on CBBC in 1999.
Miami 7 first introduced us to Hannah, Rachel, Jo, Tina, Bradley, Paul and Jon as a fictional version of the band who were offered a chance of success in the States by their management, only to find themselves working and entertaining in a Miami hotel.
The first series acted as promotion for S Club’s debut single Bring It All Back, while later series relocated the group to LA, Hollywood and Barcelona.
19. Jungle Run
Jungle Run was essentially The Crystal Maze for kids, and saw a team of intrepid explorers enter a faux jungle – constructed in an old RAF base in Nottingham – and take on a series of challenges in order to win monkey trophies, which would earn them time in Temple of the Jungle King where they could win prizes.
18. Round The Twist
Round The Twist was an Australian comedy fantasy series that aired on CBBC from 1990 to 2001 and followed the supernatural adventures of the Twist family.
The first series was based on a series of novels by Australian writer Paul Jennings, and it became famed for its theme tune, which was used on a Sainsbury’s advert in 2018.
17. The Queen’s Nose
CBBC adapted the beloved Dick King Smith novel into a full TV series, which aired between 1995 and 1998, followed by a less successful revival in the early 00s.
It followed Harmony Parker, who was gifted a magical fifty pence piece that was able to grant her eight wishes by rubbing the nose of the queen on the coin.
We still vividly remember the kaleidoscopic opening titles and creepy theme music, which frankly were a little too much for what was a cute, twee little show.
16. The Worst Witch
There was actually a full reboot of The Worst Witch on CBBC in recent years, but in our humble opinion, it wasn’t quite up to the original TV adaptation of Jill Murphy’s novels about the mishap-prone magician, Mildred Hubble.
You also might not have realised that Oscar nominee Felicity Jones also played Mildred’s arch enemy Ethel Hallow in the first series, before Katy Allen took over the role.
15. Bernard’s Watch
These days, we’re all wishing time would fast-forward to a post-Covid era, but back in the 90s, everyone wanted the ability to press pause after the debut of Bernard’s Watch on CITV.
The series followed the adventures of schoolboy Bernard who inherited a very special watch that allowed him to stop time and cause all sorts of mischief.
What we would have given for one of those watches to get us through school exams.
14. Sweet Valley High
Based on the novel series of teen author Francine Pascal, it followed twin sisters Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield as they navigated the toils and troubles of teen life in sun-drenched California.
13. Come Outside
You might not have realised it as a kid, but Come Outside was actually produced as part of the BBC’s educational output, which sought to teach us more about the world around us.
Viewers fell in love with Auntie Mabel (played by Lynda Baron), and her dog Pippin as they jetted off in a polka-dot aeroplane to explain the story behind objects like lampposts, busses and soap.
Such was Come Outside’s popularity, it was regularly repeated on the CBBC and CBeebies until as recently as 2012 – some 19 years after it debuted.
12. The Demon Headmaster
While most of us might have thought one or more of our teachers were pure evil at one point or another, for the pupils of St Champions, this was actually the case.
Based on the novels by author Gillian Cross, The Demon Headmaster saw a group of school kids discover their headteacher was able to hypnotise their fellow pupils when he removed his glasses, in order to try and gain ultimate control of their school.
The show was revived in 2019, with former Coronation Street star Nicholas Gleaves taking over as the demonic principal.
11. Rosie & Jim
Rosie and Jim were two naughty rag dolls who lived aboard a narrowboat and came alive whenever their owner John was not looking.
They would go off and explore the world around them and cause trouble, but always somehow managed to go undetected.
Prior to the release of Toy Story, Rosie & Jim was the sole reason we believed our toys came to life when we were not in the room.
For many kids born in the late 80s, Tinky Winky, Dipsy, LaLa and Po were a bit too young for them when the show debuted in 1997. But for those born later, Teletubbies arguably defined what pre-school TV was for them.
The show was sold across the world and spawned all sorts of merchandise, while the foursome even launched an assault on the charts, with their song Teletubbies Say Eh-Oh! reaching number one in December 1997.
And if you want a bit more Teletubbies nostalgia, we recently spoke to the actor behind Dipsy to celebrate 20 years since the show finished its original run.
9. Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers
That 2017 film reboot may have tarnished the legacy of Power Rangers for some, but we must not forget what a powerhouse of a show it was back in the 90s.
The adventures of a group of US teens who transform into a fighting force protecting the earth from the evil Rita Repulsa’s attacks, became a global cultural phenomenon after its debut in 1993, spawning video games, toy ranges, comic books, VHS tapes and a 1995 big screen movie.
What you might not have realised though is much of the footage of the characters fighting in their Power Rangers costumes comes from the Japanese TV series Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger, which was part of Toei’s Super Sentai franchise.
8. Byker Grove
Byker Grove is always famed for launching the careers of Ant and Dec, but it was so much more than just PJ and Duncan.
The teen drama, set in a Newcastle youth club, gave young people the chance to see their lives and the issues affecting them reflected in a way that perhaps Grange Hill had only done before it.
Byker tackled subjects like drug abuse, homophobia, child abuse and teen pregnancy and also featured the first gay kiss on children’s TV in 1994.
7. Finders Keepers
While Neil Buchanan is synonymous with Art Attack (more on that in a bit), his game show Finders Keepers was no less enjoyable.
It was the ultimate treasure hunt, seeing two teams of friends having to raid rooms for hidden objects in a specially built house, with prizes that would make you insanely jealous as a viewer.
6. Sabrina The Teenage Witch
The US sitcom was beloved on this side of the pond as much as it was in the States, as we followed the life of Sabrina Spellman and the often-hilarious situations she found herself in as a result of her newly-found powers.
The show, which aired for seven seasons between 1996 and 2003, was actually based on the Archie comics cartoon, and followed a TV movie of the same name, which also starred Melissa Joan Hart as Sabrina.
5. Get Your Own Back
Gunge has been a regular fixture on kids’ TV ever since Tiswas introduced it in the 70s, but Get Your Own Back took things to the next level when it launched in 1991.
Each episode, hosted by Dave Benson Phillips, would see children compete in a series of silly games in order to win the chance of gunging an embarrassing grown-up in their life.
If they didn’t win, they’d have to submit one of their most prized possessions into the forfeit furnace, which Dave admitted in a recent interview was actually only for TV and their stuff wasn’t actually incinerated.
4. Art Attack
“This is an Art Attack! This is an Art Attack! This is.. ART ATTACK!”
Neil Buchanan’s crafting series was the show that made you feel like you had the potential to become the next Leonardo DaVinci, as long as you had access to some pipe cleaners, poster paint and PVA glue.
Yes, our makes never turned out quite like Neil’s, but it was a constant source of inspiration and entertainment for so many. Plus, it had The Head, who we were outraged to learn was replaced in a 2010s revival of the show.
3. Live & Kicking
Andi Peters and Emma Forbes established Live & Kicking as a firm favourite in the early 90s, but it really kicked up a gear with the arrival of Zoe Ball and Jamie Theakston in 1996.
Under their stewardship, it reached new heights of popularity and would regularly pull in 2.5 million viewers each week.
Beloved features included Hit, Miss Or Maybe?, The Hot Seat and Electric Circus, while regulars Sage and Onion the leprechauns, Mitch the voiceover guy, Mr Blobby and Trevor and Simon provided the laughs. There was even a spin-off magazine and a CD-Rom game, which we can definitely remember begging our parents for.
2. Fun House
There were so many elements of Fun House that made it one of the most special kids shows ever – Pat Sharp, his mullet, the twins, the go-karts, the gunge, the theme tune, and of course, the Fun House itself.
As the theme tune said, it was a real crazy show where anything could go, and there probably isn’t a 90s child out there that wouldn’t still want to take on the show as a 30-something adult.
1. SM:TV Live
When SM:TV Live began in 1998, it wasn’t exactly a hit, with Ant and Dec even admitting it took them and Cat Deeley a while to find their feet. But once they did, they created the sort of Saturday morning magic that hadn’t been seen on kids TV since the 70s.
With the likes of Chums, Wonkey Donkey and Challenge Ant, not only did it win over kids, but it amassed a huge adult audience too thanks to the knowing winks the scripts would often give them.
Nearly 20 years on from the departures of Ant, Dec and Cat, there’s a reason why people are still desperate to see them get together for a live Saturday morning reunion – because it’s quite simply the best kids’ show of its generation.
* This list features some shows that first debuted in 1989, but have been included as the majority of their runs aired during the 1990s.