Most of what’s covered here are shows for adults, but there are lots of British and Australian programs for young children and teens, too. Here are 25 of them.
Some are geared to toddlers, preschoolers, and kindergartners, others to elementary school-aged children, tweens, and teens. All are family-friendly with entertainment appeal for parents, too.
Big & Small (UK)
This live-action puppet series for preschoolers follows best friends Big and Small and their friend Ruby as they play, have adventures, and do other fun things together. Invariably, something happens that leads to some sort of disagreement, trouble, or conflict, but they always manage to get things sorted. And there are songs, too.
Lenny Henry (Chef!) voices the characters of Big and Small, and Imelda Staunton (Harry Potter) and Tamsin Heatley (Cracker) provide the voice of Ruby in Series 1-2 and Series 3, respectively.
Danger Mouse: The Classic Collection (UK)
A show for pre-teens that’s also a hit with adults, this long-running animated series parodies the Danger Man TV series, as well as “James Bond” and other British spy fiction. In it Colonel K’s top secret agent, Danger Mouse, and the super spy’s bumbling sidekick Penfold, work to thwart all manner of evil-doings around the world, especially those concocted by archnemesis Baron Silas Greenback and his henchman Stiletto. (The series’ reboot began airing in September 2015 in the UK.)
Landing at #3 on Channel 4’s list of 100 Greatest Kids’ TV Shows, the classic collection of Danger Mouse is available on Netflix.
The Elephant Princess (Australia)
Appropriate for kids aged 8 and up (according to Netflix), this family fantasy drama centers on Melbourne teenager Alex Wilson (Emily Robins, SLiDE), who learns she is heir to the throne of the magical Indian kingdom of Manjipoor on her 16th birthday. With help from new friend Kuru (Miles Szanto, Love My Way), Alex learns to master her magic powers and defend her kingdom against her devious cousin, Vashan (Damien Bodie, Neighbours). Liam Hemsworth (The Hunger Games) also costars in Series 1.
Figaro Pho + The Adventures of Figaro Pho (Australia)
These children’s animated series look like the work of Tim Burton, but they’re not. Rather, they’re the creations of animation director Luke Jurevicius. Like him, Figaro Pho suffers from phobias, only many more of them, and deals with them in imaginative and quirky ways. In Figaro Pho, he has fears about body odors, the cosmos, and shadows, amongst others, and in the award-winning The Adventures of Figaro Pho, about boredom, rejection, and well, everything!
Guess with Jess (UK)
In this spin-off from the Postman Pat series (see below), Jess the Cat speaks, rather than just meow, with his friends on Greendale Farm, as they help each other answer a Big Question in every episode, and thus empower toddlers/young children to find answers about the worlds of science and nature around them.
H20: Just Add Water (Australia)
Children and teens who are fans of Disney’s Ariel should enjoy this fantasy drama about three 16-year-old Australian girls who have typical teen problems as well as powers over water, which they acquire after being transformed into mermaids. Starring Cariba Heine (Dance Academy) as Rikki Chadwick, Claire Holt (The Vampire Diaries) as Emma Gilbert, and Phoebe Tonkin (The Originals) as Cleo Sertori, H2O finds the trio struggling to cope with the advantages and disadvantages of their new powers and to keep them a secret.
Horrible Histories (UK)
This live-action sketch comedy series is the second TV program (after the 2001 American animated series) adapted from the “Horrible Histories” books. It is the first children’s show to win the Best Sketch Show prize (twice) at the British Comedy Awards and four consecutive BAFTA Children’s awards for Best Comedy.
Voted one of the all-time greatest British children’s TV series in a 2013 Radio Times poll, Horrible Histories takes an irreverent look, à la Blackadder and “Monty Python” films, at the darker aspects of history, from the Stone Age to post World War II, through live-action sketches and music videos inter-cut with animations and quizzes. Historical characters are played by a cast of regular, supporting, and guest actors, including Mathew Baynton (You, Me and the Apocalypse), Martha Howe-Douglas (WPC 56, ), Simon Farnaby (Detectorists), Sarah Hadland (Miranda), and Ben Miller (Death in Paradise), amongst many others.
Lightning Point (aka Alien Surf Girls) (Australia)
Geared to teens and aired in the US on TeenNick under the title Alien Surf Girls, this fantasy drama follows alien teens Zoey and Kiki, who hail from the world of Lumina. After they lose their spaceship and become castaways in the quiet, Australian seaside town of Lightning Point, they recruit Amber, a local and human girl, to keep them undercover. The thing is, everyone in town is already buzzing about UFO sightings, and the two aliens realize they may not be the first intergalactic visitors on planet Earth.
Lily’s Drfitwood Bay (UK)
An animated, mixed-media production from Northern Ireland, and winner of the 2015 Broadcast Awards, UK for Best Children’s Programme, this series centers on Lily (voiced by Orlagh O’Keefe), a little girl who finds treasures on the nearly-deserted beach where she lives with her father, and transforms them into friends and adventures that she has with her seagull friend Gull (Paul Currie) on her imaginary island of Driftwood Bay.
The who’s who of British acting talent who lend their voices to Lily’s Drfitwood Bay include Richard Dormer (Fortitude), Peter Mullan (The Fixer), Tameka Empson (EastEnders), Jane Horrocks (Absolutely Fabulous), Ardal O’Hanlon (My Hero), Annette Crosbie (One Foot in the Grave), and Stephen Fry (QI).
Lily’s Driftwood Bay is available on Netflix.
Mr. Bean: The Animated Series (UK)
Based on the live-action series starring Rowan Atkinson, this animated series is more for older teens and adults, as some of the sketches include sexually-suggestive content. But as with the original series, Mr. Bean still drives his green Mini and interacts via mumbling with Teddy, Irma Gobb, and the mysterious driver of the Reliant Supervan. New characters include his landlady, Mrs. Wicket, and her evil cat Scrapper.
Mr. Bean: The Animated Series is available on Hulu Plus and the official “Mr. Bean” channel on Dailymotion, where you can also watch the new 2015 Mr. Bean cartoons, created to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the original live-action Mr. Bean TV series.
Ocean Girl (aka Ocean Odyssey) (Australia)
Winner of the BAFTA Children’s Award for Best International Series, this family-friendly, sci-fi series is set in the near-future and centers on Neri (Marzena Godecki), a girl with the unusual powers of super-human strength and lung capacity. She lives alone on an island, sleeps in a tree, and despite her fear of other humans, develops friendships with some of the people who live at the Oceanic Research Centre of Australia (ORCA), an underwater research and environmental protection facility.
Paddington Bear + The Adventures of Paddington Bear (UK)
Based on the much-loved, classic English literature character in the illustrated books written by Michael Bond, the two animated series, as well as the film, appeal to children of all ages.
The original BBC stop-motion animation series, Paddington Bear, is available at iTunes and Vudu, and its three specials (Paddington Goes to the Movies, Paddington Goes to School, Paddington’s Birthday Bonanza) are available on Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, and Vudu. The reboot, The Adventures of Paddington Bear, a Canadian, British, and French co-production in traditional 2D animation, is available on Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus, iTunes, Popcornflix, and Vudu.
And Paddington, the film, which features an all-star cast of voices, including those of Ben Whishaw (London Spy), Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey), Sally Hawkins (Persuasion), Julie Walters (Indian Summers), Jim Broadbent (War and Peace), Peter Capaldi (Doctor Who), Imelda Staunton (Cranford), and Michael Gambon (Fortitude), is available on Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, and Vudu.
Postman Pat: Special Delivery Service (UK)
This follow-up to the Postman Pat TV series is a stop-motion animated series geared to preschool children. It centers on the adventures of Pat Clifton, a friendly, country postman in the fictional village of Greendale, who’s been promoted to Head of the Special Delivery Service. Now he has a boss, new gadgets, and a helicopter, 4×4 Jeep, and a motorbike with a side-car for Jess the Cat, for his commutes to the nearby town of Pencaster to collect special deliveries. And he still makes plenty of mistakes on the job.
Actors voicing characters in Postman Pat: Special Delivery Service include Angela Griffin (Inspector Lewis), Kulvinder Ghir (Still Open All Hours), and Archie Panjabi (The Good Wife).
The Jamaican-accented Rastamouse and his friends Scratchy and Zoomer are at the center of this stop-motion animated series for children. The trio play in the reggae band Rastamouse and Da Easy Crew and solve mysteries for Da President of the colorful island of Mouseland. It features the voices of Reggie Yates (Doctor Who) as Rastamouse, Sharon Duncan Brewster (Top Boy) as Scratchy, William Vanderpuye (Death in Paradise) as Zoomer, and Cornell John (EastEnders) as President Wensley Dale.
Shaun the Sheep (UK)
This stop-motion animated series is a spin-off of Wallace and Gromit’s Cracking Contraptions (see below), and inspired Timmy Time (also below), a spin-off of its own, and the film Shaun the Sheep: The Movie.
Shaun is an unusually bright sheep and the leader of the flock at Mossy Bottom Farm. Life for them here is mundane, so in their attempts to add excitement, they end up in fantastical escapades, as well as both conflicts and partnerships with the farm sheepdog Bitzer, all while trying to avoid detection by the Farmer.
The Shaun the Sheep series, including the fifth season known as Shaun the Sheep Championsheeps, is available on Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, and Vudu. Shaun The Sheep: The Movie is also available on Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, and Vudu.
And here’s the trailer for the upcoming Shaun the Sheep: The Farmer’s Llamas.
The Sparticle Mystery (UK)
In this family-friendly fantasy/sci-fi/adventure series, a group of ten children must fend for themselves and figure out what happened after the Sparticle Project, an experiment in a particle collider, goes disastrously wrong and sends everyone aged 15 and older into a parallel universe at precisely 11:11 AM. As resources become scarce and survival becomes more difficult, the group has adventures and learns important life lessons as they trek across Britain, to the top-secret facility where the Sparticle Project took place, in order to realign the two worlds and bring back their parents.
The Sparticle Mystery is available on Netflix.
Timmy Time (UK)
This Shaun the Sheep spin-off follows Timmy, Shaun’s ovine cousin, and is geared to preschool-aged children. Another stop-motion animated series, it teaches children to make friends, share, and accept their mistakes, amongst other lessons, through the interactions of Timmy, his friends, and their teachers Harriet the Heron and Osbourne the Owl. The show had aired in the US on Disney Junior, but is no longer on the schedule.
Tinga Tinga Tales (UK)
Based on African folktales, this British-Kenyan animated series is geared to kindergartners and uses music, dialogue, colorful imagery, and a cast of characters, led by a cheeky monkey, to answer questions about the origins of animals. Actors who voice the characters include Lenny Henry (Chef!), Shaun Parkes (Inspector Lynley), Miriam Margolyes (Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries), Sophie Okonedo (The Escape Artist), Meera Syal (The Kumars at No. 42), and Penelope Keith (To the Manor Born).
Tree Fu Tom (UK)
This live-action and CGI-animated series helps children aged 2-6 to develop motor skills, particularly those with developmental coordination disorder. It follows the adventures of Tom, a boy who transforms into a superhero inside the tiny, magic tree world of Treetopolis. When Tom needs help from the big world outside, he asks viewers to make magical moves and say magical words.
Doctor Who alumni Sophie Aldred, David Tennant, and Mark Bonnar voice the animated characters, and Aldred’s son, Adam Henderson, plays Tom in the live-action sequences.
Wallace & Gromit: The Complete Collection + Wallace & Gromit’s Cracking Contraptions (UK)
These iconic and massively-popular claymation works, parts of the huge “Wallace & Gromit” franchise, center on Wallace, a self-proclaimed genius, absent-minded inventor, and cheese enthusiast, and Gromit, his silent yet expressive and intelligent canine companion and best friend. (Empire magazine named Gromit one of the 50 best animated movie characters in 2010.)
Wallace & Gromit: The Complete Collection, which consists of four short films (roughly a half-hour each), is available on Amazon Instant Video and iTunes. Wallace & Gromit’s Cracking Contraptions, a set of ten shorts (1-3 minutes each), is also available on Amazon Instant Video and iTunes. And the film Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is available on Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, and Vudu.
Wicked Science (Australia)
In this live-action teen series, Toby (André de Vanny, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries), an easygoing student with homework and girl troubles, and teacher’s pet Elizabeth (Bridget Neval, Neighbours), whom no one likes, become science geniuses after being hit by a strange magnetic pulse. Toby uses his newfound gifts to pass his class and help his friends, while Elizabeth uses hers to be an evil genius, out to rule the school and Toby’s heart. But a third genius is trying to conquer everyone, and Toby and Elizabeth must stop it.
Young Dracula (UK)
Loosely based on the children’s book Young Dracula by Michael Lawrence, this live-action comedy series follows the misadventures of Vlad, a 12-year-old boy who would rather fit in at his new school than bite his classmates, after his single vampire father, Count Dracula, moves with Vlad and Vlad’s sister Ingrid from Transylvania to the small town of Stokely in Wales.
Winner of the 2008 BAFTA Wales award for Best Children’s Programme, Young Dracula features Simon Ludders (Broadchurch) and Gerran Howell (The Sparticle Mystery), and in Series 5 Laura Howard, probably best known to adult Brit TV fans as Cully Barnaby in Midsomer Murders.
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