With the school holidays coming up, you’re going to need reinforcements, extra ammo in your keeping-the-kids-entertained arsenal. These shows on Showmax and Netflix are here for you. And here’s a bonus – while these shows may all be aimed at children, they are likely to be enjoyed by you as well. Featuring Zendaya, Jemaine Clement, Snoop Dogg, Chris O’Dowd, David Attenborough and Beatles songs by Sia, we dare you not to like them!
1 Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom (Showmax)
This show is Peppa Pig’s less famous and terribly underrated cousin. The Little Kingdom is ruled by King and Queen Thistle, who have three little girls: Holly, and the naughty twins Daisy and Poppy. Holly is best friends with Ben who is an Elf, living in The Great Elf Tree.
The star of the show is Nanny Plum (voiced by the same person who does Miss and Mummy Rabbits on Peppa Pig), who is pretty bad at, well, pretty much everything she does, including magic. Other stand-out characters include the cantankerous Wise Old Elf (who thoroughly disapproves of magic) and Gaston, a ladybird who is a kind of a pet to Ben and Holly. Kids enjoy the magic of the show, and adults enjoy its slightly facetious edge.
2 Wild Kratts (Showmax)
Wild Kratts is an animated series that aims to teach kids about rare and wild animals through a show about villains and heroes. Created by real-life brothers Chris and Martin Kratt, each episode features an animal that finds itself under threat, usually from villains who wish to poach it, or is struggling because of human interference in their natural environment.
The animated versions of the Kratt brothers are assisted by their super smart team, who operate their flying turtle ship, fit them into creature power suits, and snatch them from the maw of danger. Wild Kratts is a cheerful, educational and non-threatening introduction to the world of endangered species and environments.
3 Kiri and Lou (Showmax)
Kiri is a feisty little dinosaur whose best friend is the gentle and thoughtful Lou (voiced by Jemaine Clement). Together they navigate different feelings and teach their young viewers about kindness, empathy and getting along.
The clay creatures in this stop-motion animation are beautifully simple, and make you want to reach out and touch them.
4 Pablo (Showmax)
Pablo may have autism, but that doesn’t stop him from tackling the world. With the help of his imaginary friends, created with his crayons, Pablo learns that he can handle whatever comes at him.
If you’re parenting a child on the spectrum, you’ll love the tender and clear-eyed way Pablo is portrayed in this series, which features an all-autistic cast.
5 Hey Duggee (Showmax and DStv Now)
Parents love the bright, aesthetically pleasing look of this show, and kids love the adventures that Betty the octopus, Happy the adopted crocodile (his parents are elephants), Roly the hyperactive hippo, Tag the rhino and Norrie the mouse get to go on with Duggee, their scout-leader dog who can only say “A-Woof”.
Hey Duggee has raked in the awards, and it’s not hard to see why – this is one special series.
6 Find Me in Paris (Showmax)
Lena is a teenage ballerina, training in Paris at the best ballet academy in the world. But she’s got a secret – she’s actually a time traveller from 1905.
While she tries to get back to her own time, she also has to fit in with the rigours and social pressure of ballet school. And then there’s a budding romance…
Season 2 of this hit series is due to arrive on Showmax soon, so now’s the time for you and your aspiring ballerinas to catch up on Season 1.
7 LEGO Collection (Showmax)
See the much-loved plastic toy heroes come to life in this awesome collection of LEGO movies.
Titles include LEGO Jurassic World: The Indominus Escape; LEGO Marvel Superheroes: Maximum Overload; LEGO Nexo Knights; LEGO Disney’s Frozen: Northern Lights; LEGO DC Superheroes: LEGO Ninjago and more!
8 KC Undercover (Showmax)
KC is a whizz at many things, so much so that her secret agent parents recruit her into The Organisation. Now she and her siblings save the world as superspies!
Zendaya, who stars as KC, is coming to Showmax in an entirely different role – as Rue in the highly anticipated HBO series Euphoria, which comes first and only to Showmax on 15 July.
9 Ask the StoryBots (Netflix)
Ask the StoryBots is an educational series that follows five colourful characters as they answer children’s questions about the world.
How do computers work? Why can’t I eat dessert all the time? Where does rain come from? How do people catch colds? The StoryBots investigate it all.
Little kids will love the cute songs, and grownups watching along will enjoy guest appearances by Whoopi Goldberg, Ed Norton, Ali Wong and others.
Whoever thought we’d see Snoop Dogg complaining that someone was asking questions about cats – again! – while explaining what binary language is?
10 Puffin Rock (Netflix)
This super sweet Irish series follows the adventures of a puffin named Oona and her little brother Baba. Oona is an excellent big sister and teaches Baba all he needs to know.
Puffin Rock is gentle – there’s a bit of drama in there, but it always ends well – and is a particularly nice pick for the 3+ year old crowd.
11 Beat Bugs (Netflix)
These cute little bugs live in an overgrown backyard, which is ripe for adventure and benign catastrophe. The bugs learn life lessons as they navigate their little big world.
Each episode features a Beatles song covered by a contemporary artist, such as Sia, P!nk and Aloe Blacc.
12 Super Monsters (Netflix)
Famous monsters have kids too – and these kids need to go to school! Join the Super Monster kids as they attend Pitchfork Pines Preschool, where they learn to harness their powers and also, you know, get on with each other.
In addition to two seasons of shows (the third will drop in October this year), there are three Super Monsters movies and a Super Monsters song special.
13 Our Planet (Netflix)
This original documentary, narrated by David Attenborough, is a collaboration between the WWF, Netflix and Silverback films. It aims to help us all discover ‘the one place we call home’, and the spectacular footage of ‘the natural wonders that remain’ will keep viewers of all ages entranced. The show pays special attention to how the human footprint and climate change are affecting our planet.
Warning: scenes of animals struggling to cope with diminishing resources may be distressing to some viewers, but provide good opportunities to discuss serious issues with children, and to talk about how we as individuals can try to affect change. For bonus content and ideas, check out the show’s website here.
14 Nailed It! (Netflix)
This is the reality cooking show that is kinder and funny than seriously competitive shows such as Masterchef and The Great British Bake-Off.
Home bakers are tasked with recreating ridiculously elaborate cakes… with ridiculously terrible results. Host Nicole Byer is a treat, as are her guest judges whom adult viewers may recognise from other shows (Antoni Porowski, anyone?).
None of the contestants ever seem to “Nail It”, but their failures are funny, rather than tragic. As an aside, the food waste aspect of this show can be a little stressful to see, and younger viewers may need some guidance.
This show is probably extra fun for families who do like to cook and bake together, and there are some useful tips, if you’re into things like nativity cake-pops and pizza-shaped pancakes.
15 Malibu Rescue (Netflix)
This Netflix Original Movie is a family flick about teen lifeguards, and is a prequel to a series of the same name. It’s a story about a group of misfits sent off to “lifeguard camp”, and the enduring power of perserverance and friendship.
There’s some potty talk and benign juvenile delinquency that some parents may not enjoy, but the slapstick humour that will have kids chuckling away. There’s also a super-catchy soundtrack to download from Spotify and sing along to.