Save Us From Preachy Kids TV

Over the last five years I’ve seen a lot of CBeebies. Probably more than any of our children have actually seen. Some of it was good, some bad, but the content that sticks with me, the stuff that annoys me, is how nauseatingly preachy children’s television has become.

I should add by children’s television I mean stuff like CBeebies, not the extended toy adverts on the commercial channels the lower orders let their brats watch. Cbeebies is awfully preachy, but even worse it often gets its preaching completely and utterly wrong.

Take Mike the Knight for example. This show is popular with my two boys. Mike is a trainee medieval knight and gets into all manner of scrapes with his sister Evie1 and pet dragons. The general idea is that Mike learns lessons through life and encourages children to be “more Knightly”. Except he doesn’t. Mike spends 99 percent of each episode behaving like a spoiled, bad-mannered little bell-end.

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Jools Holland’s Formulaic Tosh

There was a time when “Later…” the live music show presented by Jools Holland was essential viewing. On a BBC that knows so little about music that in every documentary it trots out the usual bollocks about how important punk was1 Jool’s show was a breath of fresh air. Not only did it present bands playing live – something Top of the Pops producers would have you believe was technically impossible – it offered a real interesting variety. But those days are gone. Instead every week you have exactly the same show. Of course the band names change – but the actual show is pretty much identical week after week.

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Trouble in Greendale

For many years now Royal Mail Postman Pat Clifton was the man you could always rely on in Greendale. He was the glue that held the community together, the face of officialdom that could be relied on to being the post whatever the weather. Not only did he bring the mail he was often there to save the day in many a community crisis.

But watch Pat at work today and something has gone terribly wrong. Rather than being the glue that holds the Greendale community together he seems to be the cause of most of the local problems. If you’ve a special event and need a package for it delivered on time, these times you can guarantee there will be some dreadful and potentially dangerous cock-up.

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Grandpa In My Pocket

Cbeebies is full of very strange programmes. Take Numberjacks for example. This appears to be a remake of spooky 70s show Sapphire & Steele albeit with the eponymous heroes replaced with CGI talking numbers that live inside a sofa. Then of course there’s Waybaloo a show about dwarfish Buddhists with speech and learning difficulties, which tries very hard to be representative and fill each episode with a group of children of every hue that means the production company is very likely to exhaust Canada’s supply of Chinese children pretty soon.

One of the oddest shows is Grandpa In My Pocket. Here James Bolam, slumming it from grown-ups’ telly, plays the titular Grandpa. Now don’t get worried – grandpa’s excursions into “my” pocket are not of the Daily Mail-baiting “I’ll give you a Werthers original sonny if I can have a rummage” kind1. Oh no, instead it refers to Grandpa’s ability to shrink to a pocket size when wearing his “magical shrinking cap”.

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The New TV Editing Menace

I’ve written before about some of modern television’s mad new techniques to stretch half an hour into an hour slot. Shows like Location Location do this a lot and I ranted about it here.

But there’s an even more annoying technique starting to appear over here. As ever this is a US invention, where if you’re lucky you may get 20 minutes’ content in an hour of TV.

This new method is already being used on the infuriatingly stupid Masterchef, but you can see it on plenty of US imports over here such as Supernanny USA.

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Dave…Not His Real Name

I’ve made it pretty clear in the past how I feel about the increasing dumbing down of the once great BBC News presentation – the silly pointless live linkups etc.

One other thing that’s getting on my goat is the way the news deals with people who wish to retain their anonymity. Often these people are filmed from behind, in shadow or without the camera pointing anywhere near their head.

So far so good. But what’s really odd and rather irritating is how these people are given a name. For some reason, “This man, who wishes to remain anonymous told us…” isn’t good enough.

Instead the reporter usually says something like, “We spoke to Dave…not his real name…about his experience…”

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Channel Four Nonsense

Have you noticed something very wrong with many of Channel Four’s output over the last few years?

My beef is in the way many of its home-grown reality shows are edited.

Channel Four seems to think we all suffer from ADD or that we couldn’t possible join Supernanny or Location Location Location and understand what is going on – even though every episode is pretty much the same.

Each show begins with what is essentially a trailer for the show you’re about to watch. You would thing that given we’ve sat through the credits we know what we’re going to get anyway.

If we’re lucky we then get ten minutes of the show. But before the break we then get a trailer for the next part of the programme. Now it’s time to sit through some commercials for overpriced moisturisers, price comparison websites and other tat.

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Bob the Builder is Nonsense

I see quite a bit of the output of Cbeebies and on the whole most of it is very good. But Bob the Builder is just nonsense.

The talking construction vehicles I can live with. But why the bleeding heck is there an annoyingly-voiced talking scarecrow in the show?

Bob the Farmer would be bound to have a talking scarecrow. But in a show about a construction worker the annoying carrot-faced git is so incongruous and more than a little annoying.

And while I’m at it what the hell’s wrong with the sense of scale among Cbeebies producers. None of the construction vehicles in Bob the Builder are large enough to admit Bob or Wendy, instead they have to hang dangerously on the side like New York Firecrew1. Is this a good example of vehicle safety to teach our children?

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Our days of chopping cucumber are over

The Channel Four programme Bringing Up Baby (open in a new window/tab) has been a real hit in our household, bringing much merriment for four weeks here to our family.

The show featured several families all trying to look after their newborn babies following one of three childcare philosophies. These were the 1960s “mummy knows best” approach of Doctor Benjamin Spock, a 1950s strict routine method and a strange 1970s hippy approach based on some tribe in the arse-end of nowhere.

I should first explain our own philosophy on childcare before I share with you our views on the TV show. Looking after twins is hard work and Patrick and Kitty do keep us rushed off our feet, the only way we really manage to cope is by sticking as much as possible to a routine. This means meals at eight am, midday, four pm and seven pm – and now the babes sleep through every single night.

This process took time though – time for us to learn what was best and time for the twins to show us what was comfortable for them. Neither Jo or I are fans of Gina Ford’s Das Kinder Reich view of childcare – we like to choose when we’ll have a cup of tea and a biscuit thanks very much, but that’s not stopped us admiring the 1950s approach in the TV show – which differs from Ford’s in that it doesn’t seem to control the parents.

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