Spooky UK Kids TV Shows of 1980s and 1990s

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These creepy UK Kids TV Shows from the 1980s and 90s delivered spooky fun for the whole family, writes RACHAEL ELIZABETH

Spooky UK Kids TV Shows of 1980s and 1990s 1

The one question I am asked when I confess my love for anything creepy or paranormal is usually, “What made you believe in ghosts?” and for a while, I didn’t really have an answer – until I thought back to my childhood.

During my youth, I watched many wonderful, spooky, and creepy TV shows, and it has become apparent that this is where my love for the darker side evolved.

Anyone who shares my fondness for the supernatural will probably also have watched similar TV shows and cartoons as I did.

It seems like a lifetime ago when cartoons and kid’s TV shows were such a huge part of our lives. And although we may have moved onto more frightening shows as we grew older, nothing hits that nostalgia spot quite like a trip down TV memory lane.

In a world where TV was (and still is) saturated with American TV shows, there were a few outstanding spooky gems created here in the UK that we can all look back on with fondness!

Funnybones 1992

Funnybones 1992

Funnybones was originally a popular series of storybooks written by Janet and Allen Ahlberg in 1980 before it was adapted into a TV series in 1992. Each episode was only five minutes long and ran between September and December.

The TV series saw three skeletons—Big Funnybone, Little Funnybone, and their pet dog (also a skeleton!)—as they set out on many whimsical adventures.

The series was narrated by Griff Rhys Jones, who also provided the voices of the skeletons, and sang the theme tune as the character ‘The Moon Man’.

In my opinion, Funnybones still has one of the most iconic and nostalgia-hitting theme tunes that will unlock many fond memories of the 1990s.

“In a dark, dark town, there was a dark, dark street.
And in the dark, dark street, there was a dark, dark house…”

Even though the show was aimed at children, you can still watch an episode as an adult and find yourself laughing at the warm-hearted comedy which we may have missed during our younger years. One episode in particular stands out for this, and it was “The Ghost Train.”.

The Ghost Train episode saw Big Funnybone and Little Funnybone receive tickets to board a ghost train.

As they arrive at the station, you would expect a ghost train much like we know now—a train that takes you through a series of scary tunnels—but in this episode, it is an actual train that just so happens to have ghosts on it!

They arrive at a ghostly seaside town, and although Big Funnybone is afraid of ghosts, they manage to have a great time paddling in the sea, eating ice cream, and having their picture taken before riding the dark, dark train back to the dark, dark station.

Count Duckula 1988-1993

Count Duckula

Count Duckula ran for four series between 1988 and 1993, and was a spin-off from the hugely popular TV series Danger Mouse. The series was produced by Cosgrove Hall Films, an English animation studio founded by Brian Cosgrove and Martin Hall, and was based in Chorlton-Cum-Hardy, Manchester.

Count Duckula was voiced by David Jason, Brian Trueman as Nanny, and Jack May as Igor with each episode lasted around twenty minutes, and it also came with a catchy 80s-style theme tune.

“…There’s not a vampire zanier than…
DUCKULA!
He won’t bite beast or man,
‘Cos he’s a vegetari-an!”

Count Duckula is a vegetarian vampire due to a complication during his “re-animation” process, which left him without any form of bloodlust.

Duckula lives in a castle that can transport him anywhere in the world, and he lives with his haphazard Nanny, a large hen whose arm is constantly in a sling, and Igor, a gloomy vulture who is perpetually frustrated by Count Duckula’s lack of evil vampiric traits.

In episode nine of season one, “All in a Fog” Count Duckula decides to travel to London to pursue his fleeting dream of becoming a detective, due to his solving the mystery of the missing cheese grater at his castle.

Inadvertently, Count Duckula ends up helping a pair of thieves (who have stolen the crown jewels), believing they were lost in the thick London fog, but Nanny, Duckula, and Igor are mistaken as the thieves and have to devise a plan to escape jail and Dr. Vong Goosewing, the mad vampire hunter.

The Trap Door 1984-1986

The Trap Door

The Trap Door was a stop-motion animated series created by Terry Brian and Charlie Mills.

The programme ran for two series and produced a total of 40 episodes, each around five minutes long.

The opening credits gifted us all with a fantastic 80s theme tune that was impossible not to sing along to!

“Don’t you open that trapdoor, you’re a fool if you dare!
Stay away from that trapdoor,
’cause there’s something down there…”

The plot of The Trap Door was based around Berk, a little blue monster who was the servant to “the thing upstairs” in a large, haunted castle; he lived with a perpetually annoyed skull, Boni, and a pet spider called Drutt.

Each episode would see a new monster spring up from below the trapdoor, forcing Berk, Drutt, and Boni to deal with the havoc it would cause throughout the castle.

One memorable episode, titled “Don’t Open That Trap Door” shows Berk finding an old radio as he cleans out his room, and as he scans the channels, The Trap Door theme song begins to play! The groovy song then awakens more monsters from beneath the trap door who come up to “boogie” to the song.

Eventually, “the thing upstairs” bellows at Berk to see what is causing the racket, and the monsters quickly head back through the trap door. This episode, with all the monsters dancing to the theme song, became the music video for the series.

Read more about Trap Door on Spooky Isles

Dr Zitbag’s Transylvania Pet Shop

Dr Zitbag's Transylvania Pet Shop

Dr Zitbag’s Transylvania Pet Shop is a children’s animated TV series that ran from 1994 to 1997 and had four series, with each episode lasting around 25 minutes.

Dr Zitbag’s Transylvania Pet Shop sees Dr Zitbag, voiced by Christian Rodska, as he sets up his own pet shop in a haunted Transylvania castle after he’s fired from his previous pet shop job, but this isn’t an ordinary pet shop.

Dr Zigbag is a mad scientist by nature, and creates monstrous pets to sell to anyone willing to buy them.

“If you want a zombie bunny,
Or a pussycat mummy
A vampire froggy
Or a skeletony doggy

If you want to lease a weremouse
Or a yeti for your fear house
Do you crave a franken-sheep?
Or a creature from the deep?…”

The series introduces you to a wide range of ghoulish characters, such as the mad scientist, Dr Zigbag, who is forever creating horrifying pet creatures. He also finds himself with an undead, skeletal dog assistant, Horrifido (voiced by Kerry Shale), there is also Zombunny, a zombified bunny that Dr Zigbag has used for his experiments; and Dr Zigbag’s neighbours.

They are two undead brides known as the Exorsisters (voiced by Nicolette McKenzie), whom he is constantly trying to impress. And lastly, Officer Deadbeat, a local police officer of Transylvania who has a deep-seated grudge against Dr Zigbag.

In episode five of series one, “Grime Doesn’t Pay”, Dr Zitbag is attempting to create an elixir that will make him irresistible to the Exorsisters, but once they arrive at the castle, they are disgusted by how unclean it is.

Much like other children’s TV shows of that time, a lot of jokes were also aimed at the adults, such as a laugh-out-loud line from this particular episode by one of the Exorsisters: “I’ve heard of dirty weekends, but this is ridiculous!”.

Dr Zitbag is lucky enough to find a new cleaner, “Mrs. Turfhead” to start work at the castle at once; however, on the same day, a cunning thief escapes from prison, and it doesn’t take long for Dr Zitbag and Horrifidio to begin to notice many items around the castle going missing, but things ramp up when the Exorsisters are stolen!

The Good Old Days

Each series brings something different to the table, but the one trait they all share is the fantastic array of stories aimed at adults and children.

I have many fond memories of watching these TV shows, but I also remember my parents enjoying them too.

The humour was perfectly aimed at younger and older minds, allowing everyone watching to be a part of the fun and laughter.

It doesn’t seem like there are many kids TV shows these days that are aimed at a range of ages, which is what makes these old gems even more precious; hand-drawn cartoons and stop-motion may be a thing of the past.

But I’m sure you’ll agree that if any of these shows were brought back to life in 2024, you’d be the first to tune in – I know I would!

Do you remember these creepy UK kids shows from the 1980s and 90s? Tell us what we missed in the comments section below!

Enjoy Count Duckula Theme Tune

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