Knights Were Brave, Princesses Fair: Make-Believe in the Children's Hour, by May Weissenberg

(Organizer, English Children's Hour, PBS)
Jerusalem Radio November 18, 1938, Volume 1, No. 8, page 2.

Of course, it all depends on whether you like dragons that breathe fire and princesses imprisoned in towers. If you do then you will realise why we who have to do with the English Children's Hour think it's fun.

There's something different about the children's hour. Let me try and explain. If it is cold in the studios, and it certainly is in winter, you plug in the heater and suddenly find it has fused the lights,and your gramophone turntable just refuses to turn. Well, in the "Grown-up" programme you would stammeringly mutter something about a slight technical hitch, but if the same thing happens in the Children's Hour then you say "I'm awfully sorry, children, something's happened, I don't exactly know what, but it smells just like pancakes. ". You see, in Children's Hour fairies slide down rainbows and rocking horses take you to strange countries, so if there is a slight technical hitch why shouldn't it smell like pancakes? Besides, if you remember those far-off days of childhood perhaps you will agree that there was something about the smell of fuses that reminded you of pancakes.

In the one and a half hour of the English Children's Hour anything can happen. Sardines speak, giants sneeze and ghosts rattle their bones, and it all seems to affect the adults that take part. There was a programme with a complete adult cast who were supposed to be knights, you should have seen how they entered into the spirit of the thing. No knights of old could have been braver, and the studio at the end was a thing to behold, with all the music stands, which served as arms and armour, lying around in various stages of disintegration, and the celotex falling from the walls as a result of wild horsemen who galloped over it with coco-nut constructed hooves.

Of course we don't only have adults acting in the Children's Hour. Most of the performers are children. You just have to say to them "Be a broken-hearted princess", or "pretend you're a pixie who's lost his shoe", and they are. It's an old story that children are born actors, but still it's amazing to see the ease with which our children get themselves into their parts.

The game of make-believe is one that we must always play, and the PBS is exceedingly fortunate in being able to call upon a small handful of ladies in Jerusalem who are ever ready to help in providing some imaginative story or play for broadcasting.

We believe that plays are greater favourites than stories, because somehow you live with the characters in a play more than you do in a story. Besides, in a play there are different voices and as often as not incidental music, all of which make for variety; and so we give the children on an average six plays a month. Of course, this necessitates many hours of rehearsal, but some of the more experienced children can be relied on to take a part at very short notice.

Competitions seem to be great favourites among childern. We've had painting competitions, musical guessing competitions, literary competitions, and just competitions. The literary competitions have brought to light some children who are really gifted writers, and who send in plays and stories without the excuse of a competition.

One of the most popular features of Children's Hour is undoubtedly the Request programme, where the children can choose which songs they want to hear.

It is strange that a child always seems to want to hear something he or she already knows. This trait becomes most apparent in their request programme. For instance, although they hear part of the "Teddy Bear's Picnic" in every children's hour, scarcely a request programme goes on the air without one of the young listeners asking to hear it.

Children from Egypt, Syria and Cyprus as well as from towns and villages in Palestine have asked for some special favourites, and to read their letters is a joy. There was once one from Trans-Jordan which said "if there are any spelling mistakes, please blame my Daddy," and apropos of "Daddies" the PBS often strongly suspects that "Daddies" use Children's Hour as an excuse to hear some of their favourite songs, but it is "Junior" who is made to write the letters.

Yes, the Children's hour is great fun, but like all good things it has its drawbacks. When everyone was reading "Gone with the Wind", the poor organizer had to be d[eep] in "Edna Burton's Sunny Stories for Tiny Tots".

article: Knights were brave, by May Weissenberg.  Jerusalem Radio magazine, Vol 1 No. 8, Nov. 18, 1938 p.2

Comment: I think May Weissenberg may have meant Enid Blyton's Sunny Stories for Little Folks (leslie)