*WARNING* This Blog is about television.
If you are one of those ‘I’m terrible sorry but I’m too busy growing my own organic produce and knitting ironically to even OWN a television’ People, then this blog isn’t for you.
As it’s about the tele, primarily children’s tele.
So dear Mama Beeb is packing it’s children’s programming off into the big wide world of satellite tele. Just like a Mum leaving her eighteen year old in his first shared accommodation. Dis-infecting the worktops, buying too much toilet paper and then whispering (whilst hugging him too tightly) her suspicions that one of his housemates, Nickleodeon smokes drugs. However his other housemate, the Disney channel seems very nice. And clean.
Mama Beeb is pretty much saying to it’s kids programming all those unsaid things that parents never truly say to their grown up kids. Well yes, you are kinda still my responsibility but ummmm…not really. Yes of course you can come back to the BBC WHENEVER YOU WANT…but actually only really at Easter, Christmas and half terms. Love ya!
Basically the decision’s been made that from October, if you want to watch cartoon animals and plucky teenage sleuths between the times of half three and five you will need to tune into the BBC’s already pre-existing channels CBBC and Cbeebies. Now I don’t think the Beeb is a bad mother, I actually understand the decision.
The children’s shows on BBC1 have found themselves not only in competition with other channels and the newfangled TV on demand, but in competition with their very own shows on the CBBC channel. Talk about a brightly fur coloured Sophie’s choice.
It’s an understandable move by Mama Beeb but one I do find a little bit sad. I think about my young nephew and nieces and find it sad that they will have no understanding of television scheduling. They won’t feel the same longing for that small morsel of after school programming that my generation once felt.
Television and the way we consume television is completely different to when I was a child. Arriving home from school, I’d giddily clamber over the sofa for the remote control where I would then spend a joyous filled hour and a half flicking between BBC and ITV for my favourite programmes.
I remember it, albeit through the misty eyes of nostalgia, as being a rather beautiful orchestrated bit of tele. It would start with an overture of a grown man bantering with a small squeaking puppet in a cupboard buried by felt tipped Van Gogh’s. The first act was probably either Dave Benson Phillips or Neil Buchanan gurning, gunging and pretty much letting middle class children run amok in a carefully controlled environment. The second act (depending on the weekday) would be filled by surly teenagers with clown names, like Zammo and Spuggy. Who would pretty much attempt to out bully and out snog each other with often surprisingly life threatening results. Or you’d be presented with Anthea Turner paper-macheing the shit out of a fairy liquid bottle with absolutely no clue whatsoever that this would be the career high. Then a person with an impossibly expressive face would read the ‘news’ like an escaped drama teacher before the big finale of…an Australian cul-de-sac! This was usually encored in my household by a fish finger tea.
Today’s youngsters have a cruise ship buffet of channels and programmes to goggle their little boxes off to. Then there’s Iplayer, Skyplus, youtube, iTunes, Netflix, and Lovefilm. Not to mention you can pick up a DVD in a supermarket nowadays for the same price as a chicken kiev. Kids today can pretty much watch whatever they want, whenever they want to watch it. I reckon we will soon have parents shouting at their kids to “put down the IPad or your eyes will go fruity!”
I do wonder, with all this technology, are we raising a generation of selfish adults? I’m glad there wern’t so many choices and options for me as a child. Having to endure the tele shows I didn’t like because I had to wait for the one show I did like, taught me patience and acceptance. I knew if I stuck it out through Newsround and Blue Peter, Neighbours would be my reward. C’mon guys if we can make it through this segment about bring and buy sales, Jesse Spencer is waiting for us! It was like a metaphor for life, every adversary is a seed to a greater benefit…quite possibly a handsome Australian chap with a penchant for white vest tops.
I don’t think the next generation of kids will have such fond memories as I do of their childhood viewing. A lot of the current crop of kids tele shows are rather glossy and polished which is fine but I think all that gloss takes some of the shine away. What made British children’s tele in my era so brilliant was it’s inherent naffness. There was something magical about a womble suit or ‘aliens’ made out of buttons because children have a wonderful gift for imagination. For taking something naff and making it magical. It’s not a wooden spoon it’s a…DEATH RAY! It’s not a cushion it’s a…SHARK! I don’t want my children to be glossy and polished, I want them jam smudged, scuffed and covered in poorly applied face paint.
I do worry that kids aren’t being allowed to stay kids. The internet is a wonderful learning tool. With millions of information to gorge on through our greedy fingertips. I’ve spent whole days on Wikipedia and google absorbing useful (and useless) facts and figures. If I want to cook something I can find a whole heap of recipes for it. If I want to style my hair in a particular way I can simply youtube a tutorial. It’s like the beautiful distant future world that was prophesied to us by late eighties films is finally coming to fruition. BUT…
I remember being a rather late starter when it came to hair, make up, fashion blah de blah. In some ways I was rather a tomboy. I didn’t have a particular definitive taste in music or a style until I left school. Basically, I wasn’t very cool (although my knowledge and taste in movies was always streets ahead of my classmates). Subsequently I made dreadful mistakes. I repeatedly cut all my hair off. Once to emulate Posh Spice (I was unfortunately more chilli powder than oregano),twice to emulate Meg ryan and once because of *COUGHS* KellyOsbourne *COUGHS*. I wore tights as gloves and blue lipstick. I covered every inch of myself in glitter spray, and wore bright pink crop tops with novelty backpacks. I carried a wand as an accessory for God’s sake! I didn’t have a clue. I was desperately trying to find my identity like a a toddler hopelessly lost in a Mcdonalds ball pool. But that’s what growing up is all about, making mistakes. Those mistakes are the things that define who you are far more than your triumphs.
Girls today don’t really have an excuse to get things wrong. Everything you would possibly need to know about what and how to be cool is online. I can’t imagine the pressure young women feel. I didn’t have the constant bombardment of scrutinised images of celebrities that they do today. There may have been the odd OK magazine knocking about the house and a weekly visit to the newsagent around the corner from our school to giggle at a More magazine but nothing as sinister as what today’s teens are up against. A daily game of her arse is bigger than her arse.
I suggest we should let kids become Paparazzi. Wouldn’t the world be a nicer place if we only saw Kim Kardashian etch-a-sketched or drawn in glitter glue. Although the Daily Mail website would probably still find he need to criticise her pasta twirl hair or tissue papered boobs.
But maybe all of these worries and fears that I feel for the next generation,well, perhaps my Mother feels those exact same fears and concerns for mine.
That we don’t lose our shine and get caught up in the gloss.