Monday, 6 September 2010

Postman Pat is a twat but kids' TV is better than ever

"Roaaaarrrry, the ejit Dad!"

That's my daughter's charming, self-composed version of the theme music to Roary the Racing Car. It is hard for me to complain about her use of the term 'ejit' as she has inherited it from me and in particular my jibes at that stalwart of kids' TV, Postman Pat.

I am perhaps watching too much children's TV, but I despise that tosspot with rather too much venom. Aside from his annoying 'cleverest man in the village' act, his stupid big nose and his almost disturbing attachment to his cat, there is a scene in the opening credits in which he posts mail through a letterbox, turns to the camera and laughs. What sort of normal postman does that? What's he put through that door that's so fucking hilarious ... junk mail? Dogshit? Porn?

My irritation with Pat -especially when he peaked as the programme of choice for what seemed an eternity in Little C's ratings - is such that I would not only loudly denounce him as an ejit, I had even secretly rewritten the theme song...'Postman Pat is a complete and utter twat...everybody knows that he's a cock, All his friends will hide as he waves to greet them...' Obviously I didn't repeat this to Little C, but I have sunk to a whole new level, haven't I? I am insulting characters from children's TV and actively enjoying doing so.

While we are on the subject, I wouldn't have a builder who talks to his machines doing a job for me and I think Peppa Pig's Dad is a fat, bumptious arsehole. Andy Pandy? Patronising little shit. Angelina Ballerina? Spoilt little brat who we once banned Little C from watching to see if she'd stop flouncing off to her room in dramatic tears. And it worked.

But having got all that off my chest, I must say there is a lot to celebrate about kids' programmes these days. CBeebies is the best of course, partly because it isn't trying to market plastic things to your kids every two minutes (though the BBC Merchandising Department do that later). But consider the brilliance of Charlie and Lola, Mister Maker or Something Special and you have to say the Beeb is doing a great job in producing imaginative, educational TV for kids. To be fair, it's not alone - Nick Junior has some superb programmes, like Ben & Holly's Little Kingdom, which combines sharp humour with real invention. And Dora the Explorer has encouraged Little C to take an interest in nature and climbing trees. If the real cost of subscribing to such channels wasn't amplified by the Pester Power Tax, it would be good value.

Not that Little C sits in front of the telly all day. Like us, she gets bored of it and wants to go and do something else. But she does like to recount her favourite moments and she likes programmes that remind her of family life - hence Peppa Pig (annoyingly middle class, strangely popular, grunting family) and Humf (furry purple thing living in a block of flats) have both been big hits. She also likes getting to know characters by their behaviour - the first show to really grab her was the BBC's delightful programme for smaller kids, In the Night Garden. Above all now, she likes programmes that make her laugh - she continually recounts scenes that she finds funny, most recently a band of marching ants gatecrashing a picnic in Maggie & the Ferocious Beast.

TV for children is better than it was when I was young and I have become more knowledgeable about it than I really want to be. But - as with books, made up stories and the way she plays games - what I enjoy most is watching Little C's imagination, sense of humour and understanding of the world being fired up. Ok, the adverts are bad and Postman Pat is a wanker, but TV can play a good part in kids' lives as well as a corrosive one. You just have to get the balance right and switch it off now and then.