Clangers in the Romper Room 

15 March 2018

Article from TVTimes Anglia for 18-24 February 1967

When three-year-olds speak their minds, be prepared for anything. You never know what they’re going to say.

I once took a little girl aged three-and-a-half, to tea with some friends. And in the middle of the meal she smiled sweetly, then said: “Isn’t this perfectly horrible?”

Miss Rosalyn of The Romper Room knows the feeling. She faces the hazard of the resounding clanger five days a week. Yet, after more than two years, she loves the programme more than ever.

She is blessed with a splendid sense of humour, but she admits her most chilling moment in one programme came when a little boy piped up: “Do you know what my Daddy says about you? He says you have the biggest mouth he has ever seen.”

Miss Rosalyn chuckled. “I must admit I wondered just what that little boy was going to say,” she said.

It is precisely because of this element of the unexpected that she remains charmed with the programme.

Much more organisation goes on behind the scenes of The Romper Room than people imagine. The children and their mums have to be at the right studio at the right time. Some will have travelled a long way.

Correspondence and queries — nearly 200 letters a week — have to be answered and Miss Rosalyn has a full week going out and meeting people at fetes and charity shows.

Particularly important is meeting the children who are to appear in the programme for the first time.

Miss Rosalyn told me: “I make a point of spending 10 minutes or so with the children and their mothers. This is not a first contact of strangers.

“The children feel they know me because, invariably, they have watched The Romper Room. They know what to expect. They know the games and songs. This is a big advantage.

“I will mention, when we first meet, a pretty dress, a pair of new shoes, a smart overcoat, or make a remark about a toy they may be carrying. This usually breaks the ice. After 10 minutes, there is often a wild rush to see who can get into the studio first.”

First meeting, and it’s eyes right for the cameraman’s birdie… as Miss Rosalyn, centre, gets to know guests and parents at the studio. Odd man out is Mr. William Oxborough of Scratby, holding his 14-month-old daughter.

But not always. One little boy, who was very keen to appear in The Romper Room, wouldn’t go on at the last moment.

Said Miss Rosalyn: “We coaxed him to sit at the side with his mother and watch. Halfway through, he joined in to listen to a story I was telling.”

Usually, the mothers watch the programme and their children in comfort from a viewing room.

Miss Rosalyn’s golden rule is to treat every child as an individual. “Some will confide the most extraordinary information. For instance, one young child announced he had two grannies — one who has a dog he can put pennies in and the other who is always making jam sandwiches.” She smiled. “You have to play it by ear,” she said.

Children often ask pointed questions. Miss Rosalyn said: “They ask me if I have any children. My answer is that if I did have any children, I wouldn’t have much time to join them in The Romper Room

They never ask her if she is married. This is an unimportant detail to them. They believe in getting to the heart of the matter without any conventional nonsense. Other popular questions to Miss Rosalyn are her real name, her age, and where she lives.

Only one thing makes Miss Rosalyn cross. “The mother who says in front of the child:’ I’m afraid you won’t be able to do anything with him. He won’t mix. He has always been with me. He probably won’t go into the studio.'”

Said Miss Rosalyn: “It doesn’t give the child a chance and I’ve always found they are quite happy when they are on the set with the other children.”

Miss Rosalyn sometimes has to control the urge to burst into a fit of uncontrollable laughter during the transmission of a programme.

She said: ”On one occasion we were playing Follow My Leader, with each child getting a turn as leader. The music was lively and gay and the first boy did a slow step with a very mournful expression.

“The next one did exactly the same. So did the next. And the next — while I was desperately making bright suggestions about clapping, skipping, dancing.

“It looked funnier than it sounds. The whole studio was falling about with laughing. The programme looked more like a funeral procession than The Romper Room.”

A Transdiffusion Presentation

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2 responses to this article

Alan Keeling 15 March 2018 at 3:27 pm

The Romper Room was originally made for US TV stations in the early 50s and syndicated to various US TV stations, there were also versions in Japan, Finland, Hong Kong, Australia & New Zealand. The Romper Room began in three ITV regions in the mid sixties, they were Anglia TV, Ulster TV and Grampian TV

Fiona 10 April 2022 at 8:50 pm

Fabulous! I recently went past the old Anglia TV studios in Norwich and remembered everything. I was on Romper Room, probably in 1967 when I’d just turned 5. My mother was wearing stiletto heels on the day, and I can remember that she trod on my little sister’s foot on the way to the studio! Ouch! I’d love it if you had any old Romper Rooms we could watch from 1967.

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