Rosemary McDermott recalls a favourite television show she enjoyed with her mother


Nowadays, we can all avail of the stream of information and entertainment that is available to us twenty-four hours a day, from a multitude of channels. Younger viewers can also choose from a large selection of cartoons to view on a wide screen television. I remember when this outside influence didn’t feature so much in our lives.

In the early 1960s, after my older siblings had set off for school, Mammy would strap my baby brother, Seamus, into his large, black Silver Cross pram before beginning her daily chores.
When the fire that she’d lit in the stove, was burning brightly, she’d fill a huge pot of water and set it on top. As the fresh aroma of Daz washing powder and Sunlight soap wafted around the kitchen, Mammy would place items of laundry into the boiling suds.

A little later, she’d move the heavy pot to the back of the stove to let the water cool before carrying it to the sink, where the laundry would be rinsed. Afterwards, with the pram positioned outside the back door, Mammy and I would walk to the bottom of our garden. I’d hand the pegs to her as she hung the washing up on the line to dry.

If our neighbour was out in her garden, she’d come over to the hedge to chat with Mammy. When they’d exchanged recent local news of weddings, births or deaths, we’d make our way back indoors.
As the morning wore on, Mammy would check the time on the clock before turning to me. “It’s almost time for your programme, Rosemary,” she’d say, before moving across to the stove.
Pulling the heavy kettle forward and taking the tea caddy from the shelf above, she’d put a spoonful of tea leaves into the teapot before putting a saucepan of milk on to warm for Seamus’s bottle. As the kettle came to the boil, she’d switch on the old black and white television set in the corner.

As I climbed onto the sofa, Mammy would spend some time adjusting the aerial on top of the set. The snowy picture becoming clear as the ‘Watch with Mother’ signature flower unfolded on the screen. I excitedly wondered if my favourite character, Andy Pandy, would appear. On alternate mornings, it could be the adventures of The Wooden Tops or The Flower Pot Men that I’d enjoy.
Mammy carried Seamus and our drinks over to join me on the sofa as the wicker basket, where Andy Pandy and his friends lived, came up on the screen.
Andy, dressed in his blue and white striped romper suit and hat stepped out of his basket and was quickly followed by Teddy. As the story unfolded, the little rag doll, Looby Loo joined in the fun. She had plaited hair and wore a spotted skirt.

Mammy and I sang along when she’d sing her special song – ‘Here we go Looby Loo’. All too soon, Andy Pandy and Teddy began to sing Time to go home, time to go home, Andy is waving goodbye’. As they all disappeared back into the basket and the lid closed down, Mammy rose to switch the television off.

After placing Seamus back into his pram, she gathered ingredients from the cupboard and began baking bread that would be resting on the cooling rack when the others returned home from school.
Later, when homework was completed and dinner over, Daddy would switch the television on to watch the news. As our parents listened to what was happening around the world, I followed my siblings as they dashed outside to the garden.

Playing games of tig, hopscotch or skipping meant we were all tired as the evening drew to a close. Although the few available TV channels closed down at midnight, the television in our house would have been switched off several hours earlier.

Sixty years have gone by since then, but I often fondly recall those carefree mornings when Mammy and I enjoyed watching the first television series broadcast by the BBC for pre-school children – ‘Watch with Mother’. ÷