Monday, February 11, 2008

picture box

I bought this last week for £3.99 from a charity shop, after picking it up and putting it down about a hundred times. Then I suddenly imagined somebody else coming in and buying it, and there I was, sprinting towards the till with it clutched in a white-knuckle grip. It might have been my imagination, but the old lady behind the counter seemed overly happy to see it go. I think it might be haunted.

I'm glad I bought it though, because even though I've never actually seen one of these in real life, I remember it well from my childhood. It's PICTURE BOX, from the children's educational TV show of the same name. And now I own it.

Picture Box featured the weirdest theme tune known to man, guaranteed to make you feel as if you were gently riding a fairground horse on a one-way trip into another dimension. It's called 'Manege' and it featured on this (1968?) album (which I have yet to find down the chazza, but I live in hope):

Francois Baschet was a sculptor who, along with his brother Bernard, invented and built loads of crazy experimental instruments. Jacques Lasry was a modernist composer. Together with Baschet's wife Yvonne, they were 'Structures Sonores Lasry Baschet'.

But I digress. Because while looking for the title sequence for Picture Box on YouTube, I discovered that it is EVEN WEIRDER than I remember. I don't even know what to say about it, except that when Alan Rothwell pipes up with his jovial

"Hello! Do you remember that scene from the film last week?"

you can be sure that somewhere in the depths of time, a hundred thousand mentally damaged schoolchildren are silently screaming


Watch it here, but don't say I didn't warn you.


  1. What a gorgeous little piece. It's lovely.

  2. I love it! I wouldn't have let it get away, either.

    - Julie

  3. i didn't recognise that thing at all, clicked on your you tube link and my stomach literally lurched! Urgh, it's right up there with the starting sequence of tales of the unexpected (which still freaks me out) and that fucking skeleton and his skeleton parrot advertising vhs tapes and singing, "re-record not fade away, re-record not fade away..."

  4. oh my - that video clip was terrifying! and so funny at the same time.

  5. ARRRGH!!

    I've NEVER seen that before... and... why isn't there anything in the box? In the box in the program I mean... what is going on???

    How come that there was this strange small window in time where it was perfectly ok to freak kids out like that? And why did I miss it?

  6. Dear Hannah

    Is there anyway you can copy this to mp3 and make it available. I would literally pull my own ears off to have a copy of this.

    Thankings 4000


  7. Paul - no need for any ear-pulling. It's actually really easy to do & the software is free.

    You need a copy of Audacity ( and a LAME MP3 encoder (

    Look here for instructions:

    if you have any problems, email me at cakeyvoice[at]yahoo[dot]co[dot]uk and i'll try and help. Good luck!

  8. er.. unless it IS haunted.

  9. Fantastic! I would love to find one in a charity shop, so quirky (and yes, very unsettling).

    Thanks for the information on the music, those guys seem like a 60's Kraftwerk!

  10. Very jealous. Is it me or are charity shops getting thinner on the ground these days?

    How's the knitting going too?

  11. For anybody interested, somebody has posted up the full 2 minute theme tune (original version) here:

  12. thanks dude! great to hear this all the way through :) clickable link here:

  13. Han, even better... Further to my last comment, I've just today found a site where you can download (what appears to be the same rip) as an MP3 (it will require a free site sign up before you can grab it though) go here:

  14. Thought you may like to see a couple of full episodes of Picture Box (the only 2 I can currently find presented by Alan Rothwell). This shows (as well as weird) how varied and interesting they were! Makes a change to see kids tv programmes that aren't dumbed down (unlike most of the ones made today). Apologies that the links aren't clickable, but they can be easily copied and pasted into a browser address bar:

    All the queen's horses

    Jack and the beanstalk

  15. nice one, I'll deffo give them a watch when I've got a mo. Bring back those old weird, melancholy kids shows, I say. You're right, there's nothing around now which compares really.

  16. I've bought a couple of those as well based on my early Picture Box memories, you may be interested in this Blog Post as well:


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.