It’s the weekend. You’re looking for something to watch with your kid and you turn on the TV, but it’s not the same. For one, Rupert Bear wears trainers and has tanned fur. Where are all the TV shows you used to love as a youngster? Answer: They’re all on Prime Instant Video.
What if you’re not settled down at the right time for kids’ shows on old-school telly? What if you don’t like the gender-targeted adverts in between selling pink things for girls and blue things for boys? What if you just want to use your offspring as an excuse to re-watch Rugrats for the 50th time?
Here are the top kids’ TV series on Amazon Prime Video:
The Highway Rat
This short but sweet adaptation of the Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler book is a tasty family treat, perfect for when a TV episode won’t do but you don’t have the time or attention span for a film. The Gruffalo, Gruffalo’s Child, Room on the Broom and Stick Man are also available and all equally charming.
Just Add Magic: Season 1 and 2
Amazon’s original live-action kids series aimed at families and children aged 6 through 11 is based on Cindy Callaghan’s book of the same name. It sees three girls – Kelly, Darbie and Hannah – discover an old recipe book belonging to Kelly’s grandma. When a “Shut-Em-Up Shortcake” causes her brother to lose his voice, though, they realise it’s more Merlin than Mary Berry. Extant’s Olivia Sanabia stars as Kelly, alongside Abby Donnelly (Suburgatory) as Darbie and Aubrey Miller (Austin & Ally) as Hannah.
A charming treat that viewers of all ages can savour, it folds in sincere lessons about friendship, honesty and teamwork, but never gets sickly.
Amazon’s charming original kids’ series follows Anne, a young female scientist, and her human friends, along with the android assistants she’s created. Together, they use science to solve a myriad of problems. Did we mention it’s about a smart young girl who makes her own robots?
Based on Olympic gold medalist Alex Morgan’s best-selling books, the show follows Devin Burke (newcomer Sixx Orange), who was the star player on her school soccer team, until her family moved to California midway through the academic year. Now, she has to rise to the challenge after discovering her new school team, The Kicks, has been on a losing streak over the last few months and are badly in need of a leader to rally the team.
Nothing says strong teamwork ethics like a sports series, but The Kicks takes an impressive punt at the theme. More TV role models that remind viewers girls don’t have to conform to a Barbie doll image please. Back of the net.
Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street
Life is anything but normal for Gortimer and his two best friends, Ranger and Mel, as they navigate Normal Street – an ordinary suburb that has a hint of something magical just beneath the surface.
Forget the feature film with the same title, this Nickelodeon animated series is fantastic, set in a universe where people can manipulate, or “bend”, the elements of water, earth, fire, or air. Only one chosen one, though, can bend all four: the Avatar. Already seen it? The sequel, The Legend of Korra, is also available.
DC: The Animated Shows
Are you and your kids fans of comic books? Amazon’s line-up of DC animation is super stuff, from the Batman animated series to Justice League and more. Warning: Some of them are a bit violent for younger kids. For more, see our series of Superhero Sunday reviews.
Scooby Doo, Where Are You?
With Season 1 and 2, there’s more Velma here than you can shake a stick at. There’s even Scooby Doo! Wrestlemania.
Tom & Jerry
If you haven’t raised your kids on YouTube clips of these classic cat-and-mouse shorts, this is the perfect chance to introduce them to the slapstick, wit and suspense of Hanna Barbera’s duo – with a new Tom and Jerry film also available.
The Stinky & Dirty Show
Amazon’s Original Kids Series, based on the I Stink! book series by Kate and Jim McMullan, follows the mishaps of best friends and unlikely heroes, Stinky, the garbage truck, and Dirty, the backhoe loader. The series is written and developed by Guy Toubes (Littlest Pet Shop).
Curious George: Season 5 to 7
The predictably precocious Curious George springs to life in this animated series based on Margret and H.A. Rey’s classic children’s books and narrated by actor William H. Macy.
Dora the Explorer: Season 3 and 4
File this one right alongside Blue’s Clues and Peppa Pig as a pre-school must. Dora the Explorer is a hugely positive role model who not only speaks English and Spanish but can also talk to animals. That’s like three languages. Think Dr. Doolittle. But with a magic backpack. Older kids will find the repetitive call and response patronising, but this is fantastic stuff. ¡Vámonos!
Shaun the Sheep: Season 1 to 5
Aardman’s animated spin-off from Wallace & Gromit is baa-rilliant.
Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter
Studio Ghibli’s first TV series, directed by Goro Miyazaki and narrated by Gillian Anderson (in its dubbed English version), is based on the children’s fantasy book of the same name by Astrid Lindgren, the author of Pippi Longstocking. Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter follows 10-year-old Ronja (Teresa Gallagher), born on a stormy night in a mountain fort, surrounded by her father (Rufus Hound), mother (Morwenna Banks) and a loving band of robbers. She grows to be a strong girl, and discovers that the forest is both a beautiful and frightening place inhabited by strange creatures.
First created in 2004, Peppa Pig has wasted no time in becoming a modern children’s classic. It’s educational and teaches valuable social lessons, but the secret lies in its simplicity: unfussy animations and everyday stories make up the action, which sees young Peppa Pig go to school or ride a bike. Low-key, charming and – proof of it’s success – appealing to both boys and girls of pre-school age.
Six heroic puppies are led by a tech-savvy 10-year-old in this animated series that follows a string of high-stakes rescue missions using brains, cool vehicles and humour. Warning: once you introduce them to it, younger kids will be hooked.
“He lives in a pineapple under the sea…” If you’re not won over by that description, you’re missing out on one of the most surreal, strange and silly TV programmes ever created.
Perhaps the definitive Nickelodeon cartoon (apart from Doug), Rugrats wins points partly for nostalgia – and partly because of its originality. From the red hair of neurotic Chuckie to Tommy’s cute bald head, the visuals are unique, while the decision to focus on small toddlers’ adventures is not only fun (and funny) but about as close to capturing the joy of kids playtime as television gets.
This animation brings something new to the table
even if you’ve read Roald Dahl’s brilliant fables.
Purists may frown at the updates on screen,
but playing with playfulness is no sin
– siblings, buses, gamblers added, undaunted?
It’s that kind of twist that Dahl would’ve wanted.
The result lives up to The Gruffalo,
which the same studio made not long ago.
These dark fairytales are revolting – but thankfully,
suitable for viewing by the whole family.
Read our full rhyming review.
Note: The Teletubbies are there too.