3rd March 1963
First ever broadcast of Puffin’s Pla(i)ce
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, 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.
Birth of a local celebrity
Oscar Puffin “hatched” on Burhou, northwest of Alderney, in time to start working at Channel Television upon its launch in September 1962.
The channel ran a competition, asking viewers were 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.
A team of one
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.
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.