Monday, 15 April 2013

What you learn in a week eavesdropping on CBBC

My elder child continued to be sick for the remainder of the week, getting quietly hooked on Nurofen Junior, looking grey and wan, demanding regular top ups of ear drops and lying in a consumptive fashion in front of the all-nurturing telly, his long limbs drooping over the edges, festering hankies clutched in his grubby fingerclaws. I sat in the kitchen and tried to work. It was not a wholly satisfactory arrangement for either party, but I did overhear a great deal of CBBC (the BBC's channel for 7-12 year olds). It was surprisingly illuminating.

Things I learnt:

1. What actually happened in the charge of the Light Brigade. Also a crash course on the basic tenets of classical philosophy in the style of the Monkees (thanks to the glorious Horrible Histories, the only programme where I would actually sidle in and watch. My favourite, though, was the Apprentice spoof which pitted the Neanderthals against Homo Sapiens. "Well Team Neanderthal did manage one kill" "Shrew!" You can watch it if you are in the UK or have the ability to fool the internet into believing you are, here, around 20 minutes in. It made me laugh and laugh). 

2. There is a malign pleasure to be had in watching Steve Backshall, the preternaturally cheerful bounding labrador of a man who presents the wildlife show "Deadly 60", getting savaged by a wolverine. I am not sure I really believed a wolverine was an actual thing until I saw that, but there it is, small and fierce and angry, like a steroidal weasel, trying to attach itself to the meaty Backshall thigh. It does not look like congenial company, the wolverine. Anyway. I could have watched that scene again and again, possibly I did watch it again and again, I could not comment. His preternatural cheer does not slip for a second, but it's still delightful. Steve Backshall is reported to be something of a sex symbol among bored mothers who spend more time than they might wish in front of children's telly. I find this utterly mystifying. Is a labrador puppy sexy? No. No it is not unless you are depraved in ways I do not even want to imagine. He is as sexy as a glass of milk. Flannelette pyjamas. A hearty stew. Watch as he laughs delightedly as an anaconda wraps him in a death embrace. No, still not doing it for me. 

3. You should not let a twelve year old girl be in charge of administering anaesthesia to a parrot. WHY IS THIS NOT OBVIOUS TO YOU, "JUNIOR VETS"?? I actually can't believe this programme that allows children to SUTURE A PONY exists. I thought it must have been a bizarre waking dream. But no, it is real. Children. Operating on animals. I am sorry about the shouty capitals. It's just jealousy. I would have killed to do this when I was there age. Killed family members. 

4. "Dani's Castle" should have been compassionately but firmly smothered before it was allowed to air. And whoever was in charge of the soundtrack should be placed in a room with STING for all eternity (punishment indeed).

5. Ok, this is the weirdest of all. Nathan from The Four O'Clock Club (a sort of jokey Grange Hill-alikey with breaks for expositional rap) is Zadie Smith's brother. Obviously I should already have known this, but it totally breaks my brain.  

Now the children are finally back at school (after a weekend of a febrile F emotionally reenacting the most dangerous highlights of science camp, which has left me with smoke inhalation injuries after an attempt to set fire to a sugar lump went haywire), and L is on a brutal Nurofen withdrawal programme, I find I am quite missing the madly enthusiastic burble of children's TV presenters. Everything is so bright and primary coloured. Hilarity is everywhere. Things start and stop at a clearly defined time. You can be 14 and get to stick your arm up a cow's arse under expert supervision whilst wearing brightly coloured scrubs. Sigh. 


Jo said...

Horrible Histories is without question the best TV programme ever. As someone who dropped history before O level it has been responsible for filling lots of gaps in my knowledge.
But what of Belgian childrens programmes? Is Plop the Gnome still around?

Amelia said...

I did not know he was on CBBC,as I have no children and no need to subject my self to torture (bright lights and excessive music?). I'm only aware of him in as Doc Brown, he is great!

Elspeth said...

After Terry Deary's recent (ish) comments about how we should all be buying his books instead of borrowing them from the library because he WANTS ALL OUR MONEY!!... ahem... I went off Horrible Histories a bit. He seems a bit of a dick.

Kate Lord Brown said...

CBBC is a surreal parallel universe - have you seen 'Total Wipeout'? If 'It's A Knockout' had been filmed in Argentina and narrated by the small one from Top Gear, this would be the result - like you never left the 1970s.

Waffle said...

Oh god, Kate, my children adore Total Wipeout like no other programme (except You've Been Framed, also a throwback 20-30 years). The whole thing is mystifying.

Jo - Yes, Plop the gnome is still going strong, to my deep regret. Thankfully my children are too old and sullen for him now.

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