Tag Archives: ITV

Kids’ TV is dead. Long live kids’ TV

YOU can usually tell someone’s age by asking them what their favourite children’s TV programme was when they were little.

Rentaghost

The surreal delights of the Clangers, Mr Benn, Rainbow, Rentaghost and The Wombles would label you as a child of the 70s, while Dangermouse, Thundercats and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles would shift you into the 80s.

If Thunderbirds, the Sooty show and Andy Pandy in black and white trigger misty eyed reminiscences, it’s safe to say you are older than me.

Our own children, now ranging from ages 14 to 3, were blessed – and some would say cursed – by the invention of multi-channel TV in the 1990s.

Our eldest two boys were the original Cbeebies generation; the first to enjoy Teletubbies when it was causing a national kerfuffle, and Bob the Builder when he was still made of clay and flirting with Wendy (Sunflower Valley and CGI ruined it).

And while Billy had Balamory and Bonnie enjoyed the strange delights of In the Night Garden and Waybuloo, it seems some fear decent programming for children may become a thing of the past.

Russell T Davies, the man credited for rescuing Dr Who from TV purgatory and restoring it to prime-time family viewing, is warning that children’s programmes are on life-support.

In an interview with the Observer, Davies said: “I am passionate about children’s television, but it is, as ever, an endangered species, under threat.

“The most shocking thing I have seen is that, apparently unnoticed, five years ago ITV dropped children’s programmes. There is now the complete absence of children’s programmes made by ITV on CITV.”

When we were growing up there was always a snobbery about ITV, which I’m not sure has diminished much in 40 years.

While I always did prefer Magpie over the goody-two-shoes Blue Peter, and liked Press Gang more than Grange Hill, I can’t say I’d automatically associate ITV with great children’s shows.

It’s probably also worth pointing out that the undoubtedly talented Mr Davies is working on another children’s TV show for the BBC – Aliens Vs Wizards – about a teenage wizard and his scientist friend trying to stop aliens who intend to destroy the earth. And while his ability to spin a good script is undeniable, he did also write for Chucklevision.

Certainly as budgets get hit, children’s TV isn’t going to get as much dosh thrown at it as perhaps it deserves. It’s probably cheaper to import some overdubbed cartoons, or Disney-style tosh about overconfident teens than it is to make a decent home-grown programme.  Deadly 60, the hugely popular and intentionally hilarious wildlife show, must cost a fortune, as its bonkers presenter Steve Backshall travels the world looking for creatures that can kill you.

But I agree with RTD about TV networks not seeing the bigger picture with children’s productions, and that by categorising a show as ‘just for kids’ is failing to recognise both the writing talent and the potential cash-cow. After all, he made a lot of money for the Beeb from Dr Who and its Sarah Jane spin-offs.

Now I’d like to see Horrible Histories, the very best thing on TV, moved to prime-time BBC at, ooh, 7pm every night? Even its repeats would be far more intelligent and entertaining than what is currently offered in that slot.

Until the BBC complies with my demands, you can go to the CBBC website http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/cbbc/episode/b011qlwb/Horrible_Histories_Series_3_Episode_2/ and catch up with Series 3 of Horrible Histories. You don’t need to have the kids around. Put your headphones in and enjoy. It’s more educational and humorous than any half hour you’d spend on Facebook.

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Having a lollypop head and stupid eyelashes is not a talent and not alright

 THE TV watershed is all very well for younger kids – as are strict bedtimes – but what do you do about your older children watching things you don’t want them to?

I’m not necessarily talking about rude stuff – although sitting in the same room as your pre-and-teen sons watching rumpy is as excruciating as it was watching with my own parents. The slightest hint of an impending snog still sends my mother diving for the remote.

Anyone who was a kid when there were only three/four channels will remember how much easier it must have been for our parents. Many people I know weren’t allowed to watch ITV. The whole channel. There was a terrible snobbery about watching anything but the BBC.

We weren’t subjected to a complete commercial television ban, mainly because my parents have a Coronation Street addiction stretching back decades. #

So we got to see Saturday morning wrestling hosted by Dicky Davies, while many of our posher friends were left out of the loop.

Having a television in your bedroom wasn’t an issue. There was one telly in the house in the 1970s and 80s, and it was rented. My brother got the use of a portable black and white set when he was about 16, which we were only allowed to watch when ill.

Now we’re the parents, there are trillions of channels. We have three tellies, but none in the kids’ rooms. It’s hard enough to spend any time with them as it is. If they had TVs in their rooms they’d only see us at feeding time. Routine bedtimes would be impossible. If children have TVs in their rooms they will attempt to watch it, even/especially if you tell them not to.

In our house there are restrictions on children’s telly. Yes, even children’s telly.

Then there’s the X-Factor. Damn you ITV, you’re proving those 1970s parents right with your ‘reality’ programmes.

We watched one of the earlier series of the X-Factor together, I think it was the one where Leona Lewis won. But it is what it is: a load of sadistically entertaining guff.

Bloke opts out completely, he just thinks it’s exploitative rubbish. I usually avoid it until the final couple of live shows.

But the boys will set their watches by it, from the earliest audition to the tear-sodden final. Much like adults around the proverbial water-cooler, they know that the following day’s school conversations will involve why Cheryl should have chosen Gamu over stupid fame-hungry Katie, and how daft Storm looks/sounds/is.

I haven’t banned the X-Factor because I think the boys are at an age where they should be able to make up their own minds on whether someone is an idiot or not. I despair that they think the frighteningly thin, lollypop-headed Cher with her ridiculous false eyelashes is “alright.”

I take every opportunity to remind them not to give the show any emotional investment. I point out the dodgy showbiz connections and explaining the way they make their money is to con poor sap members of the public into actually giving enough of a toss to vote.

The X-Factor might be classic Saturday night entertainment, but don’t for a second think that it’s reality.

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