What did British children's TV used to be like? Meet Mr. Spanky

When I tell Americans what British children's TV used to be like, they just won't believe it. Some might concede that Watership Down offered a level of brutal matter-of-factness seldom found in U.S. programming aimed at youngsters, for example, and I'll shake my head and say, "No, that's not it. You just don't understand." I have related accurate specifics only to be looked at askance, with the clear implication I'm just making it up.

But now I have this clip to show them.

There's not much to know about Mr. Spanky, a deeply memory-holed creation. Here's one description, from Glad You Remember.

We were gobsmacked by the filthy innuendo, the various presenters blatantly taking the piss out of their own personas and the incredible regular characters …

Mr. Spanky

This character, a velvet-clad man with a mask whom the presenters avoided naming on air, was introduced in episode 1 when he came over to a table laden with Batman prizes and marvelled at the "jew-ells" before revealing his "waistcoat of roast beef" many years before Lady Gaga dressed in meat.

He used to run amok squirting children with "ghee" from a small plastic tortoise, "Naughty Torty". Mr. Spanky was gone by Christmas 1992. In a later episode, Simon and Andy found Torty hibernating in Pat Sharp's head. Following a sneeze, the character appeared as a giant tortoise who squirted audience members and guests with white foam from a doll. Thank you very much to Michelle Davies for most of these details.

Thanks very much to Neil, who goes one stage further with this detailed description: 'Dressed like a Dandy – 3 cornered hat, white wig, long 3/4 length velvet riding coat, riding breeches, white knee length socks and big buckled shoes. His face was covered in what looked like a thin yellow sheet of latex, the mouth and eye holes looked partly cut & partly torn. The mouth hole had red lipstick to give the impression of 'lips' but it was a bit 'smeary' … If that wasn't scary enough – I seem to remember that on at least one week's show, he had a waistcoat made of 'Roast Beef' … only it looked more like a selection of Italian Hams . I remember Andy Crane being shown the garment in question. Don't really remember him speaking much, but I do remember the screeching of 'Naughty Torty' and flouncing/prancing about a bit, when he wasn't squirting over people or wrecking things on the planet thru the telescope. Thought he went downhill when he actually 'became' the Tortoise.'