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Top 10 TV Shows That Terrified Us as Kids

Credits: Richard Bush Sean Harris
Written by Robin Brown They frightened us then. They still frighten us now. Welcome to WatchMojo UK and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 TV shows that terrified us as kids. For this list, we’re remembering the scariest shows watched by children on British TV, and the creepy characters that are almost impossible to forget. Special thanks to our user RichardFB for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 TV Shows That Terrified Us as Kids


They frightened us then. They still frighten us now. Welcome to WatchMojo UK and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 TV shows that terrified us as kids.

For this list, we’re remembering the scariest shows watched by children on British TV, and the creepy characters that are almost impossible to forget.

#10: “Jigsaw” (1979-84)

This show didn’t seek to scare you, but one character most definitely did - the nightmarish Mr. Noseybonk. With his warped face, staring eyes and erratic movements, Mr. Noseybonk could quite easily front his own horror franchise alongside the likes of Freddy Krueger. But in “Jigsaw”, he’s simply tasked with solving puzzles. Incredibly, Mr. Noseybonk wasn’t even especially designed to be frightening, so someone somewhere must have thought he’d seem friendly. We can confirm, he doesn’t.

#9: “Doctor Who” (1963-89, 2005-)

Since 1963, kids have been watching this supposedly ‘family show’ from behind the sofa cushions. And a main reason for many sleepless nights is the Doctor’s greatest enemy - the Daleks! With a completely alien appearance and an endless hatred of all other species, these psychotic pepper pots exterminate at will. Other terrifying monsters include the Cybermen, the Weeping Angels and some kid wearing a gas mask, making “Doctor Who” a five-star fright-fest for the younger generation.

#8: “Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons” (1967-68)

After successes with “Thunderbirds” and “Stingray”, the master of marionette kids’ TV - Gerry Anderson - created “Captain Scarlet”. Exploring darker themes and featuring tougher violence, this show really made its mark with the series’ vilain; the all-powerful, all-seeing Mysterons. Though never actually seen on screen, the Mysterons were always present and capable of murder at a moment’s notice. Add a deep, bone chilling voice that makes Darth Vader sound like he’s been sucking on helium balloons, and you’ve got yourself a TV show that truly terrifies.

#7: “Chocky” (1984-86)

From John Wyndham, the author of “The Midwich Cuckoos” - which was later adapted into “Village of the Damned” - comes this mid-eighties children’s TV series. Because, if the guy can terrify one generation of children, he can certainly terrify the next. In “Chocky”, a young boy encounters a mysterious, ethereal being, which secretly guides him through his daily life. And, what unfolds is an unusually mature and emotionally driven series - as long as you can make it past that opening scream.

#6: “The Storyteller” (1987-88)

Tales told around a fireplace are traditionally scary - so this is no exception. “The Storyteller” sees a goblinesque John Hurt recount myths and legends, with some brilliant British actors playing the leading parts - including Derek Jacobi, Miranda Richardson and Sean Bean. But they all take a backseat behind the most terrifying Jim Henson puppets you will ever see. With cunning devils, terrifying witches and greedy trolls, this show could turn even the bravest six year-old into a quivering mess.

#5: “Knightmare” (1987-94)

Teamwork, communication and guile were all required for this grisly game show. As one player dons the Helmet of Justice - which effectively blinds anyone who wears it - they go into the dungeons where their only chance of solving the puzzles, evading the traps and escaping the monsters is to follow instructions from their three teammates - who watch on in complete comfort and relative safety. Talk about drawing the short straw. A wild success, “Knightmare” was more than just a bad dream, and its legacy lived on into the twenty-first century.

#4: “Terrahawks” (1983-86)

Gerry Anderson swaps puppetry styles next, and challenges Jim Henson for the title of ‘Most Terrifying Character’ with the “Terrahawks” chief villain; Zelda. The hagged and deranged appearance of this crazed android was creepily complemented by her cackling cries. In fact, her whole family was pretty frightening. Seriously, these puppets would send Chucky running for the hills… But at least we could always count on good ol’ Sergeant Major Zero.

#3: “Elidor” (1995)

While some of today’s entries haven’t aged all that well, this mid-nineties fantasy series could still hold its own on TV today. Based on the 1965 novel by Alan Garner, “Elidor” is a dark alternative world mysteriously connected to our own, and it’s up to four kids from Manchester to defend us from the evil forces at play. And when we say evil, we mean evil. Remembered for its frightening villains and clever storylines, “Elidor” struck a chord then, and still would now.

#2: “The Chronicles of Narnia” (1988-90)

Forget the glittery Hollywood films, this BBC effort is a frighteningly good adaptation of the classic C.S. Lewis series. The special effects may have dated but the eeriness still stands up, and the epic scenes still hit home. And though most of the nightmarish moments were intentional, this show also brings an unexpected fear factor - thanks to the seriously strange, animal costumes. Forget under your bed, the monsters are definitely in the back of your wardrobe.

#1: “The Demon Headmaster” (1996-98)

As if we needed another reason to dread going to school. Played by the terrifically terrifying Terrence Hardiman, the Demon Headmaster sought to conquer the world by bringing order and control under his all-powerful leadership. But where this guy really differs from other tyrannical teachers is in his supernatural ability to instantly hypnotize you with his scary green eyes. Look into those and you’ll quickly regret it. Entirely remorseless and completely evil, he made real world school suddenly seem not so bad.
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