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The Lowdown

The Lowdown was a series on Childrens BBC from 1988 until 1998. Episodes typically went out in the teatime slot that was also used for  flagship CBBC shows such as Blue Peter, Grange Hill and Byker Grove. The Lowdown was a documentary series that looked at the lives of many different children who either faced particular issues in their lives (illness, drugs, teen pregnancy... to name just a few) or else were persuing a particular talent of theirs (acting, music, chess, football etc). The following is an episode guide to the series, based mostly on research I have conducted using BBC genome (itself taken from contemporary issues of the Radio Times) and with some extra detail (mainly confirming some episode titles) from the transcription of videos in the BBC Broadcast archive on the GettyImages website.

The Lowdown – an episode guide

Series 1 – Tuesdays BBC1 17:10 (Except that 1.3 was at 17:05 and 1.5 was on BBC2)
1.1 – 17/05/1988 – The Takeover – Michael Maudsley becomes headteacher of his school in Rochdale  for a week
1.2 – 24/05/1988 – On The Ball – A look at the FA’s national school at Lilleshall
1.3 – 31/05/1988 – Desperate To Act – Denise Hewett & Happy Savage discover the world of acting
1.4 – 07/06/1988 – The Girl Who Makes Pigs Fly – Emily Holt campaigns for CDT to be introduced at her school in London
1.5 – 14/06/1988 – Unhappy Families – Six  children talk about their own experience of their parents’ divorce
1.6 – 21/06/1988 – Jobs For The Boys – The story of Scout Job Week

Series 2 – Tuesdays BBC 1 17:05 (Except that 2.5 and 2.6 were at 17:10)
2.1 – 04/04/1989 – Brave Heart – Joanne Gillespie’s battle against two brain tumour, a stroke and radiotherapy
2.2 – 11/04/1989 – Hit And Miss – Behind the scenes of the world of pop, as Zara Lee attempts to score a hit single
2.3 – 18/04/1989 – Bring Me Sunshine – A look at the The Variety Club of Great Britains’ Sunshine Coaches for handicapped children
2.4 – 25/04/1989 – Master Of The Game – Matthew Sadler’s bid to become Britain’s youngest International Master in chess history
2.5 – 02/05/1989 – Rapping – A look at rap music


2.6 – 09/05/1989 – Hot Off The Press – A look at boys and girls who deliver newspapers

Series 1 was repeated 04/08/1989 to 08/09/1989 – Fridays BBC1 17:05

Series 3 – Tuesdays BBC1 17:05 (Except that 3.2 and 3.5 were at 17:10)
3.1 – 03/04/1990 – Stand Up – Alternative comedians Alex Langdon and Paul Bristow at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe
3.2 – 10/04/1990 – Victims – Child victims of crime and the Victims Support Scheme
3.3 – 17/04/1990 – A Pony Tale – A year in the life of Oliver Joyce, a Shetland pony breeder
3.4 – 24/04/1990 – Mirror, Mirror – Follows aspiring models Natalie, Katherine, Michelle and Stephanie
3.5 – 01/05/1990 – Fighting For Breath – Gayle Blackman’s progress at Pilgrims in Sussex, Europe’s only boarding school for asthmatics
3.6 – 08/05/1990 – Today I Am A Man – Benjamin Nathan from London twins his barmitzvah with Alexei Yuriev from Moscow

Series 2 was repeated 03/08/1990 to 07/09/1990 – Fridays BBC1 17:05 (Except that 3.5 and 3.6 were at 17:10). During this repeat run episode 3.5 was also shown with signing and subtitles on Sunday 19/08/1990 at 12:05 on BBC1 and on Tuesday 21/08/1990 at 13:35 on BBC2 as part of Sign Extra

Series 4 – Tuesdays BBC1 17:05 (Except that 4.3 was at 17:10)
4.1 – 16/04/1991 – Wee Chiefie –  Looks at Ruaridh Donald George McLennan, the 35th hereditary chief of the clan McLennan
4.2 – 23/04/1991 – Yorkies – Following the Yorkshire U16 cricket teams defending their Texaco County Championship title
4.3 – 30/04/1991 – Radio Therapy – A look at the Bristol Royal Hospital For Sick Children’s volunteer radio service, Radio Lollipop
4.4 – 07/05/1991 – Buddy Boy – Promising blues guitarist Alisdair Cherry
4.5 – 14/05/1991 – Listen To Me – Londoners Avalon Andries and Kelly Garrard overcome their deafness
4.6 – 21/05/1991 – Cadet Force – Following ‘gentle giant’ Corporal Adam Bancroft and The Prince William School Detachment from Oundle
 



Series 3 was repeated 15/07/1991 to 19/08/1991 – Mondays BBC1 17:10 (Except that 3.6 was at 17:05)

Series 5 – Tuesdays BBC1 17:10 (Except that 5.2 was at 17:05)
5.1 – 07/04/1992 – You’ve Got A Friend – Looking at children’s imaginary friends
5.2 – 14/04/1992 – The Exam – Following five boys taking the common entrance exam at The Hall in Hampstead
5.3 – 21/04/1992 – Ringside – Circus perfomer Polly Cottle rehearses and performs her exciting aerial act and assists Jeremy Beadle
 


5.4 – 28/04/1992 – Positive Thinking – Following Kate and other children infected with, or affected by, HIV
5.5 – 07/05/1992 – The Big Picture – Behind the scenes of the production and premiere of the Children’s Film Unit production How’s Business
5.6 – 14/05/1992 – Child To Child – An organisation that gives third world children responsibility for their health talks to Merseyside children about drugs 



Series 4 was repeated 20/07/1992 to 24/08/1992 – Mondays BBC1 17:10 (Except that 4.2 and 4.3 were on BBC2)

Series 6 – Tuesdays BBC1 17:10 (Except 6.5 was at 17:05)
6.1 – 06/04/1993 – Why Don’t You Stick To Your Own Kind – Looking at a group of Protestant and Catholic youngster growing up in Northern Ireland
6.2 – 13/04/1993 – My Friend Really Fancies You – Under 18’s at Hollywood Night Club in Southend find out how to make that crucial first move
6.3 – 20/04/1993 – Asylum – Following three refugees who fled Somalia, Vietnam and Bosnia
6.4 – 27/04/1993 – Race For The Flag – Young motorbike enthusiasts compete in the schoolchildren’s International Motocross Championships
6.5 – 04/05/1993 – Open Mind – Special edition about child psychology, based on the actual experience of children, like Jack Taylor
6.6 – 11/05/1993 – The Turn Of The Tide – 40,000 children perform an ambitious new piece of music with an environmental theme

Series 5 was repeated 19/07/1993 to 23/08/1993 – Mondays BBC1 17:10

In early September 1993 Joanne Gillespie, who was featured in 2.1 Brave Heart, sadly lost her courageous battle against her many health problems. Episode 2.1 was repeated at 10:15 on Sunday 26th September 1993 on BBC2 as a tribute to her.

Series 7 – Tuesdays BBC1 17:10
7.1 – 05/04/1994 – It’s My Life – The story of American girl Jenny Yang who ‘divorced’ her parents
7.2 – 12/04/1994 – Happy Birthday To You – A look at how children celebrate their favourite day
7.3 – 19/04/1994 – Gotta Give Up – A hard-hitting film about children who smoke
7.4 – 26/04/1994 – The Exchange – Following an exchange programme between the children of the mining towns of Rotherham and Gorlovka, Ukraine
7.5* – 03/05/1994 – Troubleshooters – Britain’s youngest board of directors act as consultants to Stena Sealink
7.6* – 10/05/1994 – Sam – Sameer, Pimpalkhare who has cerebral palsy, can speak for the first time, thanks to his new artificial voice machine
* The original run in Spring 1994 and the subsequent repeat run of this series in Summer 1995 in RT/genome do not match. It would appear that a new edition named ‘Rewind’ was slotted into the repeat run in Summer 1995, causing the final episode, Sam to be dropped from the repeats. Sam was then shown again during the original run of series 8, probably indicating that Rewind was made as part of series 8 but brought forward, whilst Sam’s repeat was held back to fill the slot that Rewind otherwise would have been broadcast in.

Series 6 was repeated 18/07/1994 to 22/07/1994 – Mondays BBC1 17:10

Series 8 – Tuesdays BBC1 17:05 (Eps 1,3 & 5) or 17:10 (Eps 2,4 & 6)
8.1 – 04/04/1995 – Famous Firsts – Looking at firsts in children’s lives, Rachel’s first bra and Nick’s first shave
8.2 – 11/04/1995 – The My Girl Girl – A Profile of My Girl actress Anna Chlumsky
8.3 – 18/04/1995 – Parents And How To Survive Them – Children from Bristol talk about living with grown-ups
8.4 – 25/04/1995 – The Lost City– Children in the ‘Lost City’ in South Wales talk about living in poverty
https://vimeo.com/38503629
7.6* – 02/05/1995
8.5 – 09/05/1995 – Watching Us, Watching You – Children in Melbourne talk about their favourite pastime, watching TV
*Sam  was a series 7 episode that was shown again during the original run of Series 8. It hadn’t been shown during the repeat run of Series 7, due to a new episode being broadcast during that run.

Series 7 was repeated (with the exception of 7.6) from 17/07/1995 to 07/08/1995 and 21/08/1995 – Mondays BBC1 17:05 (Except 7.3 was at 17:10)
During this repeat run a new episode was broadcast to mark the anniversary of VJ day
?.? – 14/08/1995 – Rewind – A look at children’s experiences during WWII

Series 9 – Tuesdays BBC1 17:10 (and repeated the next day, Wednesdays BBC2 08:00 (Except 9.1 at 08:40 and 9.2 at 08:35))
9.1 – 02/04/1996 – The Hallelujah Kid – A profile of Rev. Shaun Walters
9.2 – 09/04/1996 – Five Go Camping – Five children from Bristol go camping for a week
9.3 – 16/04/1996 – The Magical World Of Keelan Leyser – A profile of young magician Keelan Leyser
9.4 – 23/04/1996 – The Hong Kong Connection – Jennifer Hung’s view of Hong Kong as it prepares for its handover to China
9.5 – 30/04/1996 – Tender Loving Care – In National Carers Week, a look at the Poppleton family from Gloucester who care for their mother
9.6 – 07/05/1996 – Give Us A Twirl – A look at children obsessed with designer labels

Series 8 was partially repeated as follows – Tuesday/Thursday BBC2 17:10
8.1 – 18/07/1996
8.2 – 23/07/1996
8.3 – 25/07/1996
8.4 – 01/08/1996

Series 10 – Tuesdays BBC1 17:10 (and repeated the next day, Wednesdays BBC2 07:55 (Except 10.1 at 08:35)
10.1 – 01/04/1997 – Strictly Wimbledon – Looking at the training of ball boys and girls at Wimbledon
10.2 – 08/04/1997 – The Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Girl – A profile of American-based Romanian artist Alexandra Nechita
10.3 – 15/04/1997 – Our New Family – A look at four children from two Norfolk families in the weeks leading up to their parents’ remarriage
10.4 – 22/04/1997 – Street Pride – Three young people from Swindon hope to make a career out of dancing
10.5 – 29/04/1997 – Skin Deep – Following Lee Mitchell's treatment for Vitiligo at the Great Ormond Street Hospital
10.6 – 06/05/1997 – Getting Wired: Welcome To Cyberspace – A look at a group of children creating their own website

Series 9 appears to have been very selectively repeated in Summer 1997 as follows
9.5 – 03/07/1997 BBC2 07:55
9.1 – 20/08/1997 BBC1 17:10

Series 11 – Tuesdays BBC1 17:10 (and repeated the next day, Wednesdays BBC2 07:50 (Except 11.1 and 11.2 were at 08:10))
11.1 – 07/04/1998 – Black, White and Blues – A profile of Brody Buster, who is a blues harmonica player
11.2 – 14/04/1998 – The Story Of Lama Osel – A profile of a boy who is belived to be the reincarnation of a Buddhist monk
11.3 – 21/04/1998 – Straight From The Heart – Four teenagers talk candidly about love and romance
11.4 – 28/04/1998 – Children Of The Mothership – A look at children growing up in Aspen, Colorado
11.5 – 05/05/1998 – Circus Ethiopia – A look at a circus that offers hope to Ethiopia’s deprived children
11.6 – 12/05/1998 – It Couldn’t Happen To Me – A profile of 3 15 year-old schoolgirls who are mothers

Series 10 was repeated as follows
10.1* – 19/06/1999 BBC2 15:35
10.2-10.5 – 04/08/1999 to 13/08/1999 Wednesdays/Fridays BBC1 17:10
10.6 appears not to have been repeated at this time
*Episode 10.1 was repeated under the title Strictly Wimbledon, rather than The Lowdown, as part of the BBC’s Wimbledon commitment in 1999. Originally scheduled to be broadcast on Saturday 5th June 1999 at 15:30 on BBC2 it was apparently postponed for a fortnight.

Series 9 was given a second repeat run from 13/10/1999 to 10/11/1999, Wednesdays BBC2 07:50 (except 9.6 was at 07:45). The episode shown on 13/10/1999 is not specified in the listings, and could be either 9.1 or 9.4, as only five episodes were repeated. Episode 10.2-10.3 and 10.5-10.6 were repeated in order between 20/10/1999 and 10/11/1999.

 




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