One of the first successes from the fledgling BBC Children's Department at the tiny Lime Grove studios, this comedy series was based on the stories of Frank Richards (real name Charles Hamilton). Richards' tales of Greyfriars public school had appeared in the first issue of comic paper The Magnet in 1908, continuing until it folded in 1940. Billy Bunter stories continued in novel form thereafter, with this TV series arriving in 1952.
The rotund Bunter was one of several boys in the class known as 'The Remove' year and his round face and horn-rimmed glasses earned him the nickname 'The Fat Owl of the Remove'. Mr Quelch was their formidable Form Master and among his pupils were Harry Wharton, Bob Cherry, Johnny Bull, Frank Nugent and Hurree Singh (an Indian boy whom the others referred to as 'Inky' - an unfortunate sign of the times). Plots centred around Bunter's plans to gain extra tuck, jam tarts and doughnuts being particular favourites, while the other boys made fun of Bunter's greed and size and played a variety of pranks on him - no viewers complained about this comic bullying.
Perhaps the oddest aspect to modern eyes is the casting of an adult actor in a child part. Gerald Campion was 32 when he took the Bunter role and 40 when he retired. Surrounding him were various teenage actors as The Remove, among them future stars Melvyn Hayes, Anthony Valentine, David Hemmings and Michael Crawford.
Bunter tales having appealed to generations of youngsters, each episode in the first series was staged twice for the benefit of child and adult viewers, with live broadcasts at either side of the 'Toddler's Truce' closedown. Series 3 episodes were also staged twice, once at 3.30 pm and again at 5 pm.