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Little Gems - Snippets from the past

A Handful of Songs - Many thanks to Kathy Jones and Keith Field for providing information on this wonderful little show.

Made by Granada studios in the late 1970s - early 1980s, this preschool lunchtime program was shown on ITV around midday (Muriel Young was the Senior Producer of Children's Programmes at the time before she became Director of Children's Television). Each episode lasted approximately ten minutes and was hosted by two presenters (one male and one female). Kathy Jones (snippet of info) was the first presenter on the show partnered with a chap called Alistair Johns. Many thanks to Kathy for providing many of the images shown below.

Kathy and Alistair

Kathy and Alistair on set in the Granada studios

Kathy and Alistair

Kathy then partnered Keith for a while until Maria Morgan came along to replace her. Maria partnered Keith right up until the last episode (379th) was recorded.

At the start of each programme, the duo (Kathy or Maria) would be perched on their seats, microphones at the ready, Keith with his guitar.

Kathy Jones and Keith Field both contacted me recently and provided me with lots of great information on the "A Handful of Songs" show but a couple of sad bits of information included the death of Muriel Young and Dave Warwick (director for "A Handful of Songs"). Muriel Young had got the idea for "A Handful of Songs" after working with Wally Wyton. Wally Wyton had released an album of nursery rhymes but was busy with Folk Club on Radio 2. Hence Muriel Young chose Kathy Jones and another presenter called Alistair Johns. Keith informed me that the show was only shown in the Granada region to begin with (explains how I remember Kathy having spent 16 years being brought up in Manchester). When it went to ITV though, Keith and Maria joined the show. Just when the show got up to program 379, Muriel Young decided to retire and the new Director of Children's television cancelled "A Handful of Songs" as well as other classics like "Clapperboard" (long time since I have seen that one presented by Chris Kelly). Maria went off to the West End to play Evita. Keith now runs a family business building exhibition stands around the world.

Kathy and Alistair, then Kathy and Keith and then Maria and Keith would sing a variety of songs each week but the all time favourite of mine was "A windmill in Old Amsterdam." Such was the popularity of the duos, several LPs were released (two of which the below scans came from). The first LP title was "A Handful of Songs."

A Handful of Songs

A Handful of songs from Kathy Jones (LP front cover)

A Handful of songs from Kathy Jones (LP reverse cover)

Kathy was also the presenter on other Granada children's programs such as "Songbook" and "Kathy's Quiz." first shown in 1976 (see below). Most people though, may remember her from "How we used to live" one of ITV's classic school children's programmes as well as Coronation Street.

Kathy with Noel Cameron and Lynn Garner

Click here to see an interview with Noel Cameron

Even today Kathy is not sure where they got the idea she was an ex-Bunny girl. The incorrect information was taken from the TV-Times

Song Book was similar to the other programs, but the guitarist was called Leo Dove. Kathy and Leo would have a different guest singer on for each program. Kathy informed me that if anyone carefully watched the series they would note that the actual song book differed from week to week, because they kept losing it. One week it was kept in Mu's (Muriel Young) office, then someone else would move it to props department. It never dawned on us to keep it safe, even though it was only a cover that we used to keep the scripts in!

Keith and Maria released an another "A Handful of Songs" which had classic songs such as: A Handful of Songs, Yellow Submarine, Rupert the Bear, The Owl and the Pussycat, Puff the Magic Dragon and A Windmill in Old Amsterdam.

The third LP was called "Another Handful of Songs." Maria Morgan also released a few singles, the titles being "Best Part of Breaking Up" and "Touch me Baby."

Maria Morgan and Keith Field Maria and Keith with Muriel Young

Click here to listen to the Theme tune

This little show was an absolute gem for young kids and is truly missed. It's a shame they do not try to resurrect such ideas for today's children instead of dishing up weakly scripted and awfully drawn animations by the dozen. "A Handful of Songs," "Stepping Stones," and "Hickory House" certainly set a mark which few other preschool programs could ever hope to reach let alone surpass.

Kathy Jones, Keith Field and Maria Morgan may not be on our screen today and Muriel Young may have now left us but they left memories that cannot be taken away or matched by anything currently being screened. Millions of children were enthralled at midday each day with the productions of Muriel's choice and support and the talents of Kathy, Maria and Keith. I doubt many of today's generation will, in the future, look back so fondly on today's television.

Anyone having memories, additions or suggestions, please email me at the address at the top of the page.