I don’t think it gets mentioned enough that CBeebies not only provide a lot of positive role models for children but also a host of parent figures who are patient, kind, and loving. Many of you who are familiar with children’s tv may be surprised that Topsy and Tim didn’t make my list, but while I wouldn’t ever binge watch a series of it given the choice of almost anything else, I respect its attempt to portray a relatively normal family (albeit a painfully middle class one) just puttering along. The parents explain stuff to Topsy and Tim instead of fobbing them off with “because I say so”s, and the big milestones of childhood such as moving house and starting school are navigated calmly and without anyone losing their temper. It’s not Shakespeare, sure, but it’ll do. And these examples of good parenting are almost ubiquitous on CBeebies. Melody, Apple Tree Yard, Boj, Kazoops!, Pablo, Little Roy, all different, all positive.
There is an exception though, and that exception is Bing.
It isn’t exactly obvious whether Flop (played by Oscar winner Mark Rylance, of all people) is Bing’s parent or his carer, but whatever he is, he is the reason Bing is the worst child who ever lived. Each episode of consists of Bing doing something that ruins everyone else’s day and Flop saying, “Oh dear. Oh that is a shame.” Bing never learns to stop being a selfish little bastard because Flop never asks him to reflect on the consequences of his actions.
Let me give you an example. In one episode, Bing and Flop visit friends. Bing plays with Coco, who has a new hula hoop. Well, Bing being Bing, a child with no thought for anyone but himself, he breaks Coco’s hula hoop. Flop’s response to this is to explain to Coco how although she can no longer use the hula hoop for its intended purpose she can still play ‘the stepping game’ with it they were all playing earlier. And that’s it. That’s the episode.
I mean, fuuuuuuuuuuuccckk, really?
If you are going let your child run riot, you have to be prepared to cough up the money to pay for the stuff they break. You can’t tell someone else’s child that their broken hula hoop is still good for ‘the stepping game’. A hula hoop has one function: hula hooping. This particular fucking hula hoop is fucking broken, Flop, and your fucking child fucking broke it. So buy Coco a new hula hoop. Give her a fiver and tell her to buy herself some sweets with the change. It isn’t as if Bing put his foot through her PS4 and replacing it will leave you short on rent is it? It’s a fucking hula hoop. Three quid mate, max. Be a grown up and pay for the hula hoop.
And actually, even if it was a Playstation, you would still need to pay for a new one immediately, even if it does mean going into arrears with your landlord, because YOU WERE THE ONE WHO CHOSE NOT TO INSTIL ANY BOUNDARIES IN YOUR CHILD. This is on you, Flop. This is on you.
The moral of this episode seems to be, ‘You can do whatever the fuck you want in life as long as you pretend to be a bit sorry about it afterwards’. It’s not good enough. Not good enough by half.
In fact, I hate Flop’s parenting technique so much that my standard response to seeing Mark Rylance is in anything else is, “Oh, great, that wanker.” Yep, I hate Bing so much that it has made me doubt the very need for one of the finest actors of our time. I haven’t seen Bridge of Spies or Wolf Hall yet because, seriously, what is the point? It doesn’t matter how good they are, part of my brain will be occupied with thoughts about the drum Bing broke because somebody else was playing with it (and Flop didn’t offer to pay for, again) or the butterfly that was unnecessarily killed by Bing because Flop wouldn’t deal with a situation before it developed to a point where something died. Nip it in the fucking bud, Flop. Move the butterfly. Explain that actions have consequences. Seventy eight episodes of this shit would imply you haven’t really got a grasp of things, wouldn’t it? That whatever parenting book it was that you picked up on your gap-year in California is, it turns out, full of shit. That teaching children the difference between right and wrong isn’t impeding their spiritual development, it’s just giving them the basic tools that they will need if they are ever going to interact with other people in a positive way. Jesus! Get a fucking grip you absolute twatbag. You dithering cockwit. You piss-brained shitehawk. Fuck.
In fairness though, it is worth pointing out that the animation is lovely.