Popular children’s TV channel to close after summer holidays

Children’s TV channel CITV – loved for kids’ classics including Danger Mouse and Rainbow – will close next month.

It is making way for ITVX Kids, the children’s service on ITV‘s new streaming service ITVX, which launched earlier this summer.

ITV told Sky News: “As a consequence of this new streaming approach and responding to the changing ways children and their parents are increasingly accessing content, the CITV broadcast channel will close after the summer holidays on 1st September.”

Rainbow: Rod Burton, Jane Tucker, George, Bungle, Zippy, Geoffrey Hayes and Freddy Marks. Pic: Fremantle Media/Shutterstock
Rainbow – with George, Bungle, Zippy and Geoffrey, and Rod, Jane and Freddy, was an ITV Children’s classic. Pic: Fremantle Media/Shutterstock

ITVX replaced ITV Hub in December 2022, with the public service broadcaster making moves to compete with streaming giants including Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

Children’s ITV launched in 1983, sitting across weekday late afternoons, with the digital CITV channel following in 2006.

Aimed at kids aged five to 12, some of its best-loved shows include My Parents Are Aliens, Fraggle Rock, The Worst Witch, Children’s Ward, Raggy Dolls, Woof, Art Attack and Horrid Henry.

Classics that have earned cult status over time include Ghost Train, Fun House, Knightmare, Press Gang, Danger Mouse, Trap Door and Count Duckula.

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Pre-school hits included Rainbow, Rosie And Jim and Button Moon.

Actor Matthew Kelly was the first presenter on the channel in 1983, appearing in the links between the shows, while much later in 1993, Stephen Mulhern and Danielle Nicholls became the hosts of the channel.

CITV celebrated its 30th anniversary in January, with an “Old Skool” schedule of programmes throughout the weekend.

ITV says ITVX Kids will “supercharge” its presence in streaming, doubling its current kids’ content offering with more than 100 shows and over 1,000 hours of programming – including comedy, gameshows, live action, animation and sport.

It will be aimed at both school-age and pre-school age children, the broadcaster said.

Existing favourites, including Lloyd of the Flies, Lily’s Driftwood Bay, Claude, Mumfie, Mystery Lane and The Rubbish World of Dave Spud, will all be available on ITVX Kids.

The animated series of Mr Bean, Teletubbies Let’s Go, Sooty and Bob The Builder will also be there.

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ITVX has also said the service’s ambition is to have all of its children’s content subtitled, and around 20% of it audio described.

ITV will maintain its LittleBe pre-school segment on ITVBe and will also offer some children’s content in the early mornings on ITV2 from September.

Recent BARB viewing data has shown that while the average amount of broadcast TV minutes of children’s TV channels watched by 4-year-olds per week has declined by 62% since 2019, viewing has risen by 30% in the same period, demonstrating the “streaming first” trend in viewing habits for young people.

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