On January 2, 2020, the Czech Republic celebrated 55 years of Večerníček, one of its most famous children's television programs, which is already considered cult and has become a major milestone in Czech identity.
In Czechoslovakia, the communist ideology paid special attention to the young public, according to the belief that, at the discretion of their peers in Western countries, children who grew up in socialist countries benefited from special protections and enjoyed unique cultural rights. Books, movies, sports, cultural activities and other forms of entertainment were available for the vast majority of children, regardless of their social status.
In 1965, Czechoslovak state television launched a weekly program called Večerníček (“bedtime story” in Czech), which began and ended with a sequence of credits that has hardly changed since then. The program lasted ten minutes, ideal duration to capture the attention of young children, and has always been broadcast at 18:45 hours since its inception.
This video for the 50 years of the first broadcast of Večerníček, on January 2, 1965, presents the character embodying the bedtime story, with his characteristic newspaper cap that climbs a ladder. The musical theme, composed by Ladislav Simon, and the voice of Michal Citavý, five years old, remain unchanged and have become a reference of shared childhood of millions of Czechoslovakians of that time and Czechs now. In many families, the end of Večerníček indicated the children's bedtime, and the program ended with the phrase “Dobrou noc!” (Good evening). This is one of the first black and white versions:
(embed) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S1luesQ_TmU (/ embed)
In 1999, Czech scientists gave a newly discovered planet (with the number 33 377) the name of Večerníček.
For decades, the program, which was once daily, featured the best of Czechoslovakian animation and foreign animation from other Soviet countries. In 1989, when communism ended in Czechoslovakia, the program included only Czech content. The works that appeared in the program included the now world-famous series Krteček (The Topito), which has become one of the main cultural symbols of the Czech Republic.