Now, we know that kids’ TV is a bit bizarre all over the world, but before the internet was a thing, we in Austria were exposed to a different flavour of strangeness in the children’s shows that we all watched growing up. For a small country, we really put a lot out into the world in terms of shows for the little people of the population.
And the shows were never about being overly educational, although of course, sometimes there was a moral to the story. However, most of the time it was just fun, authentic, and wholesome entertainment, that always felt a bit more ‘real’ than the stuff you could watch on the channels coming out of Germany. Maybe, because it was made for a relatively small population of children – ‘just for us,’ in a way. Anyway, the shows didn’t take themselves too seriously, and we think that is something that’s still a large part of Austrians persona today, especially if you look at their typical humour and ‘Passt scho!’ attitude.
Here are a few of them that all Austrians will know.
This list mainly covers the 90s in Austrian kid shows, but let’s take a quick detour to talk about the beginnings of television for kids in Austria.
We still remember staring at the screen for hours and our mum reminding us that back in her day you would only get to watch ‘Kasperl’ once every Wednesday afternoon and that was it.
Kasperl is probably the oldest exclusively-Austrian character in kids’ entertainment. The jester hand puppet has a long-standing on the ORF channels and was popular long before TV even existed.
For most Austrian kids, the Kasperl extended universe includes Pezi, the naive little bear, Dagobert, the dragon (that kinda sounds like our uncle when he’s drunk), and Strolchi, the dog that’s there because, well, kids like dogs.
Even today ‘Servus Kasperl’ still makes kids laugh and sing along, all the while ignoring how creepy most of these puppets actually look.
Confetti & Rolf Rüdiger
While animation took the place of puppets in many parts of the world, puppets kept going strong in ‘Austria.’
Every afternoon, the ORF channel would stop their relentless broadcasting of ski jumping and news and feature fun shows, such as… well, whatever this is pictured above.
Introducing, a green-haired, half-duck, half-lion looking character named Confetti. As a kid in 90s Austria, there was no escaping him, and his rat friend Rolf Rüdiger.
Rolf is the co-host rodent, whose colour scheme was probably recommended by an eye doctor to give the viewers eyes a break from looking at the colourful, Confetti.
He had a sort of rude cousin kind of attitude about him, but was otherwise a pretty loveable guy.
He is famous for his verbal shenanigans and his inability to correctly pronounce words. Together they would host different series, and host their own ‘Confetti show’ with giveaways, games, and all. If the TV was on, you had to expect an awful lot of these two.
Die Knickerbocker Bande
If Confetti and Rolf were the Pepsi of kid’s shows in Austria, then the shows created by the author, Thomas Brezina, would be Coca Cola. What we’re getting at is that the bulk of Austrian-made quality kids’ entertainment was Thomas Brezina’s doing.
This one man, with an infectious smile, created childhood memories for virtually every person who grew up in Austria. It all started with countless books, one of his most successful being ‘Die Knickerbocker Bande,’ which was all about a group of youngsters solving mysteries. This series of books was made into a popular TV show.
One day, Thomas Brezina was signing books at an event when a little boy walked up to him and called him ‘the meanest person in the world’ for not writing stories for younger kids too!
So, of course, Thomas had to redeem himself and this led to the invention of ‘Tom Turbo’ – an eco-friendly, self-driving bicycle, with 111 tricks up his bicycle-equivalent of a sleeve.
What sounds like something Elon musk and Greta Thunberg would invent for a group project, actually turned out to be the ultimate detective! Sounds like a weird story premise, right? Well, there are countless episodes to watch on Youtube for you to check out.
Together with Brezina, who starred in the show next to his odd-looking vehicle, the viewers would interactively be confronted with fun, but still somewhat spooky stories. Recurring villains like ‘Fritz Phantom’ and ‘Dr.Gruslglatz’ would take turns causing chaos. There was even some kind of snowman that would bite people!