3rd March 1963

Puffin’s Pla(i)ce debuts on Channel Television

Puffin’s Pla(i)ce debuted across the Channel Islands in March 1963. Based around a childrens’ birthday slot, it was broadcast on the local ITV station, Channel Television. As its name suggests, it was “co-presented” by Oscar Puffin, a puppet who was soon to become famous across both bailiwicks.

Despite a change of franchisee, and throughout Channel Television’s forced re-application for its licence to broadcast Puffin’s Pla(i)ce stayed on air until 15 September 2013. At that point, it was retired from the daily schedule, and switched to the web. Oscar Puffin remains something of a celebrity, though, and occasionally pops up – or is referred to – in locally-produced programmes.

Oscar Puffin “hatched” on Burhou, northwest of Alderney, in time to start working at Channel Television upon its launch in September 1962.

A long, diplomatic name

The channel ran a competition, asking viewers what to name him. Perhaps in an effort to avoid any accusations that it was favouring one island over any other he was given a long, convoluted name, which mixed a range of suggestions from both Guernsey and Jersey residents. 

With three middle names, his full title is Oscar Grosnez Corbiere Claud Puffin. He became the channel’s official mascot, and outlasted all other mascots used on the ITV network.

Oscar Puffin’s slot was the only dedicated children’s programme produced by Channel Television. The Stage and Television Today alluded to this on 22 July 1976. Outlining a season of children’s drama on ITV, it described what each local broadcaster had planned, and noted that, “Channel does not make its own children’s programmes as such. What it does have is a pupped called Oscar Puffin who pops up from time to time with the continuity announcer and gives birthday messages and greetings to local children.”

Here, there, and everywhere

Puffin’s Pla(i)ce appeared in various slots throughout the schedules over the years, but early television listings consistently include it on Saturday evenings, running for 15 minutes from 5.50pm.

A blog post on the ITV website, supposedly written by Oscar Puffin opens, “Lazy’, ‘Vain’ and ‘Self-absorbed’. These were just three of the things levelled at me during my last appraisal. Despite personally believing these are excellent qualities to possess, I know for a fact my bosses don’t. So I was a bit surprised to hear that they’d put my name forward to write a series of articles for our new website.”

Perhaps the appraisal was fair after all. Far from being a “series” of articles, it was the only post in six years.


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