Keeping up with Het Klokhuis: Trends and transitions in Kids TV

Is change what underlies the continued success of the children’s television series Het Klokhuis? This project deploys a qualitative approach to empirically trace changes in content and form over time and discuss the asserted developments in their relation to societal trends and media transitions.

Principal investigator
  • Marijke de Valck

Het Klokhuis (1988-present) is created for children in the age group 7-12 and broadcasted on schooldays on Dutch public television (currently on NPO Zapp). The series is based on a playful mix between information, education and comedy; documentary reports are alternated with sketches or songs. Each episode focuses on a central topic. Topics range from light-hearted themes to serious subjects, from ancient history to topical issues, from science and politics to culture and the everyday. The program seeks to educate children about the world around them in the broadest sense.

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Fellowship presentation by Marijke de Valck

About the project

This project involves qualitative analysis of the long-running and bestowed Dutch children’s television series. The series is currently in its 33rd season and there are well over 6,000 episodes available in the Sound and Vision Archive. In order to build a corpus of a manageable size, the project will be limited to episodes that include “history” [“geschiedenis”] in their metadata. History is a regularly returning theme on the series. History is also an useful umbrella category that covers the broad range of topics that is so typical of The Klokhuis concept: from light themes (e.g. history of the bicycle, season 1990-91) to serious subjects (e.g. the VOC, season 1994-95), from ancient history (e.g. de Roman Limes, season 2012-13) to topical issues (e.g. migration, season 2004-5), and from science (e.g. famous scientists and their discoveries, season 2014-15) and politics (e.g. Dutch colonial governance in Indonesia, season 2011-12) to popular culture (e.g. history of the flamenco, season 1997-98) and the everyday (e.g. the history of kissing, season 2008-9). Moreover, the inevitable presentism that colours presentations of history (Fendler 2008) renders ‘history’ a suitable category for qualitative study of trends on the level of content.

The corpus is analysed on the levels of content (work package A) and form (work package B). Using the Media Suite functionalities – in particular corpus building, bookmarking and videoannotation for qualitative analysis – the project conducts a longitudinal study of the history-themed episodes of Het Klokhuis.

Current developments

Project info


Marijke de Valck
Marijke de Valck

Universitair hoofddocent, Universiteit Utrecht