How can TV help entertain your kids now schools are shut?

Our guide to kids' television across the BBC, ITV, Netflix, Disney+, Amazon, NOW TV and more...

children watching TV

With children now off school for what is (potentially) quite a daunting length of time, television is set to play a crucial role in lives of kids across the nation – especially as the coronavirus pandemic keeps youngsters confined indoors and bouncing off the walls.

Advertisement

But do not fear! There is plenty for them to watch.

The BBC in particular has stepped up, revealing a plan to make sure schoolkids continue to get their education. Meanwhile, Netflix and Amazon and NOW TV have extensive selections of kids’ TV and movies, and the Disney+ launch is just around the corner.

Here’s the breakdown…

What is the BBC doing for children’s TV?

The BBC has already announced a ton of new initiatives aimed at keeping kids educated and entertained now that schools are being shut down. That includes a commitment to keep Newsround bulletins on air throughout the day on CBBC, and to launch “an exciting new iPlayer experience for children, offering a wide range of entertaining and educational series” that “will be easy to use and easy for them to find what’s relevant to them.”

Subject to further discussions (with the Department for Education, schools etc) the BBC is also looking at launching a whole load of educational content.

It looks like this will include a two new daily educational podcasts for BBC Sounds (one for primary school kids, the other for secondary), as well as a daily educational programme for different key stages or year groups via BBC Red Button and on iPlayer – with a complementary self-learning programme for students to follow. GCSE and A-Level students will also get a block of programming each weekday evening (via BBC Four and the Red Button) that supports their curriculum.

For younger kids, there are also plenty of shows available on BBC iPlayer – including CBeebies programmes like Twirlywoos and Hey Duggee. Then there’s CBBC, where you can currently watch shows including Trolls, The Worst Witch, Horrible Histories and The Dumping Ground.

The launch of Disney+

The Mandalorian (Disney)
The Mandalorian (Disney)
Disney

Disney+ is finally arriving in the UK on 24th March.

At launch, subscribers will be able to plough their way through 30 seasons The Simpsons, watch Star Wars live-action series The Mandalorian, tune in to ‘High School Musical: The Musical: The Series’, and watch both Frozen and Frozen 2 (!!).

Other titles include Lady and the Tramp, Inside Out, Zootopia, Mulan, Moana, Toy Story, almost all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe superhero films, and 20th Century Fox classics like Mrs Doubtfire.

Read more: Best TV Shows on Disney+

Children’s ITV 

ITV’s main offering comes via its children’s channel, CITV. (That’s on Freeview channel 203; Sky channel 621; Virgin Media channel 734; also on ITV Hub.)

“For our younger viewers, from next week onwards CITV will have a new-look morning schedule,” the ITV’s CEO Carolyn McCall said. “The mornings will be full of much-loved animated series such as The Rubbish World of Dave Spud, Mr Magoo and Tom and Jerry. This will continue into the afternoons which will contain some of CITV’s biggest shows such as Scooby Doo and Thunderbirds Are Go.”

Children’s shows on Netflix

Peppa Pig

On Netflix in the UK, you’ll find titles including The Angry Birds Movie, The Star, Sahara, Monster House, The Spongebob Movie (and the Spongebob TV show), all the Shrek movies, Matilda, Hotel for Dogs, Hotel Transylvania 2. The on-demand giant currently also has Free Willy, Gnomeo & Juliet, Peter Rabbit, Minions, Alvin and The Chipmunks, Happy Feet, BFG, and The Little Prince.

Cartoons include Inspector Garget, Little Baby Bum (for the very little kids), The Magic Schoolbus, The Smurfs, The Garfield Show, and The Cat in the Hat. There’s My Little Pony, Peppa Pig, PJ Masks, Star Trek the Animated Series, Paw Patrol, VeggieTales, Octonauts, and Pup Academy.

Sky and NOW TV for kids

Sky Cinema has a whole bunch of films that kids will love. They include The Lion King, Toy Story 4, Mary Poppins Returns, Aladdin, Brae, Coco, The Incredibles and The Incredibles 2, The Emperor’s New Groove, Jungle Book (original and new), Ralph Breaks the Internet, Finding Nemo, Tangled, Up. You can also watch the Nanny McPhee movies, E.T., Matilda, the Babe movies, the Lego movies, the How to Train your Dragon movies, Madagascar, and Pets 2.

NOW TV also offers a specific Kids pass, which includes access to shows and movies like Moomin Valley, Boss Baby: Back in Business, Horrid Henry, Adventure Time, The Adventures of Paddington, My Little pony, Mao Mao. There’s Peppa Pig, Blaze and the Monster Machines, Little Baby Bum, Paw Patrol, Peter Rabbit, Octonauts, Fireman Sam, and more.

What is there for kids on Amazon Prime?

Paddington (Studiocanal)

If you have Amazon Prime Video, take a look at the ‘kids’ tab. Shows on offer include Peppa Pig, Kung Fu Panda, Paddington and Paddington 2, Lego Friends, Tumble Leaf, and a variety of Amazon Originals.

You’ll also have access to a whole load of Paw Patrol content, Shaun the Sheep, Blaze and the Monster Machines, Fireman Sam, Tom & Jerry, Baby Shark, A Turtle’s Tale, Teletubbies, Happy Feet (and its sequel) and Rugrats. And Julia Donaldson fans can watch and re-watch adaptations including Stick Man, The Highway Rat, Room on the Broom, The Gruffalo, and The Gruffalo’s Child.

Advertisement

Read more: Best educational shows for kids off school – 4,5,6 and 7 year olds