Whirligig was a BBC television programme for children broadcast from 1950 until 1956. It was the first children’s programme to be broadcast live from the BBC’s Lime Grove Studios, at 5:00 pm on alternate Saturdays.
The first presenter was Humphrey Lestocq, joined by Cliff Michelmore, who had recently made the switch from producing television programmes to presenting them. Lestocq acted as a stooge for the obnoxious puppet Mr. Turnip, voiced by Peter Hawkins; his catchphrase was “Goody, Goody Gumdrops”, and Mr. Turnip’s was “Lawky, Lawky, Lum”.
Rolf Harris made his TV debut on the programme with Willoughby, his animated drawing board. Peter Ling, who went on to create the soap Crossroads with Hazel Adair, was among the show’s writers. Programmes took the form of individual serials, including the science fiction series Stranger From Space, The Adventures of Hank and The Sooty Show, with Harry Corbett; Stranger from Space was the first science-fiction series on British television. The plot revolved around Ian Spencer and his Martian friend Bilaphodorus, who had crashed his spacecraft on Earth.