From Uncategorized

1. Bing

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…

2. Top Wing

Less than a year old and already one of the most consistently awful things on television, Top Wing is a phenomenon. At first glance it appears to be little more than a scene-for-scene remake of Paw Patrol but with birds instead of dogs, but Top Wing also incorporates aspects of Octonauts, Captain Jake and the Neverland Pirates, Blaze and the Monster Machines, and half a dozen other worst-in-show kids tv efforts. It’s the pits. It’s a toy advert come to life (and not in a ‘cute inanimate object becomes sentient’ way, like Angela Lansbury playing a teapot or something like…

3. Peter Rabbit

Despite it’s best efforts, despite taking out the female rabbit introduced in this series and bringing in James Corden, this year’s film version of Peter Rabbit, unwatchable shite that it was, couldn’t hold a candle to the sheer bloody dreadfulness of this tv version.¬†Sometimes you have to give credit where it is due: Nobody will ever make a version of Peter Rabbit as bad as this one. It is just so unlikable. Incredibly so. James Corden’s version of Peter is a wanker but at least he owns his shit. At least he knows he’s a wanker. The tv version is…

4. Paw Patrol

Paw Patrol! Paw Patrol! Go! Go! Go! Go! Go! Go! Go! Where to start? Everyone hates Paw Patrol. There are so many reasons, so much to despise. It is so lazy, so cheaply put together. The animation is crap. The music, a sort of shit sub-ska dirge, presumably written in an afternoon by the bass player of Smashmouth, is crap. The writing, both in terms of dialogue and basic plotting, is crap. There is a deep vein of¬† casual anti-French sentiment running through the programme that is, obviously, crap. But worse than any of this is the voicework. I used…

5. Baby Jake

Baby Jake opens with a shot of a windmill and introduces the ten children and parents in Baby Jakes family, almost none of whom are in any of the episodes. Jake and Isaac, that’s all you get in the actual episodes. The rest only exist to pad out the eleven minute run time. One minute down, ten to go. Instead of a family drama you get this: “Wamma babba wib wob, That’s our song Chubba hibble lib lob Sing along Rubba Rudda Runna Flip flop chip Jabba jibboo ribble Wug wug wug… On and on. The premise being that five…

6. Blaze and the Monster Machines

Oh my. So… in a world populated by Monster Machines, a group of Monster Machines do… adventures… I think. It’s hard to describe. Blaze and the Monster Machines has a narrative that I imagine would be almost impossible to write without first mainlining crack. They might be playing monster machine football when an eagle monster machine steals their ball one moment, then dodging dinosaur monster machines in a monster machine volcano the next. Then, out of nowhere, one of them will tell the audience that they can escape because of levers and ask, “Can you say ‘The beam then pivots…

7. Mickey and The Roadster Racers

You have to hand it to Disney, despite now owning almost all of the world’s most popular entertainment franchises they still persevere in trying to make Mickey Mouse lovable. It’s that sort of dedication that got them where they are today but it’s a futile effort. Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Daisy Duck, Pluto and Goofy are all unlikable creatures. Unfunny, lacking style or character, with annoying voices, and brought to life via unremarkable animation. You can argue that they are iconic until you are blue in the face but no one in their right mind would have any of them…

8. My Pet and Me

OK, first off, I have no problem with the presenters of My Pet and Me. Or the programme really. My argument is larger, more fundamental, and it is with Cbeebies almost non-stop pro-pet propaganda. My Pet and Me, Meet the Pups, Meet the Kittens, Pet week, Topsy and Tim’s rabbit, Waffle the Wonder Dog, Pet Week, and on and on. And yes, the Cbeebies website does have a page where they tell you five things to think about before you decide to get a pet, but none of those five things are: the world is heating up at a terrifying…

9. Octonauts

What is Captain Barnacle’s problem? God that polar bear is a supercilious little jobsworth. “Peso, sound the octo alarm.” Mate, you’re all in the same room. Just get in a submarine and rescue the sea snake or whatever. You’re only sounding the alarm for yourself. Imagine working for that guy. Jeez. Anyway, my main problem with Octonauts is that they give each new creature they meet a regional accent and they decided to give the West Midlands accent to sea slugs. Not whales or sunfish or dolphins or something cool. Sea slugs. Fuck me, guys. We live in a post-Peaky…

10. Fireman Sam

I was a bit old for the original run of Fireman Sam but I could appreciate it was well made. Stop motion, half decent theme tune, little adventures, that sort of thing. Well, they went and did a remake, didn’t they? Computer animation, innit? Utter shit mate. Utter shit. Norman Price, once a thoughtless youth just a carefully worded asbo away from a road to redemption, has now fully adopted the persona of the hotel proprietor he was named after. He wanders the Pontypandy byways, setting fire to cats and mugging old ladies, off his face on banshee dust, one…

11. Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom

For those of you who haven’t seen it, Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom is made by the same people who make Peppa Pig. It tells the story of an elf and a fairy in a magical yadda yadda yadda whatever. Before we start, I have a confession to make. I don’t mind Peppa Pig. It’s alright. I don’t, like, love it, but it has it’s moments. It has decent comic timing. It quietly subverts gender stereotypes. It’s pretty good. There. I said it. Ben and Holly however. Crikey. I understand that characters who are self absorbed and think they know…

13. Charlie and Lola

One of the unspoken truths of parenting is that at some point in your life you will think one of your child’s friends is an asshat. This is only natural. All children go through phases and some of those phases are more asshatty than others. Your own child will, at some point in their development from baby to adult, be an asshat too. Chances are, you will be largely blind to your own child being an asshat, despite how easily you will spot asshattery in others. It’s just your hormones and your unconditional love for your child. Don’t worry, that’s…

14. Are We Ready to Go?

This is one of those, “If you know, you know,” ones. For those of us with children aged two to seven, the line, “I… don’t… think so,” fills us with a dread second only to that experienced before root canal surgery. Are We Ready to Go? is only a song, but Cbeebies play it so often that it may as well be a three hundred part series. The song is about a mum and her child and their discussion about whether or not they are, indeed, ready to go. Are they ready to go? No, they are not. They have…

15. The Numtums

There are a few Cbeebies shows that seem to have one eye on the children watching and one on the, potentially lucrative, student market. Put in a reference to disco here, a psychedelic scene there, and before you know it you have your retirement sorted, slinging out ironic t-shirts to teenagers. And while you can forgive it in something like Go Jetters (because it is well made enough to get away with it, and it introduces beautiful places and interesting cultures to children in a fun and exciting way) when it comes to The Numtums, I’m sorry, that shit won’t…

16. Biggleton

OK. I have a game for you. I will play the writer and you play the executive. I am going to pitch a tv show to you. You decide whether to commission it or not. “The programme is called Biggleton. We dress up a load of kids in adult’s clothes; business woman, fireman, police officer, you get the sort of thing. Yeah? They walk around for a bit, doing grown-up sort of stuff, for like five minutes or so, then Eamonn Holmes tells them it’s, ‘time to wiggle’, and all the children do a dance in their grown up clothes.”…

17. Mike the Knight

I have never been able to work out whether Mike the Knight is a satire on, or a celebration of, the life and career of Nigel Farage, and that is largely down to its sloppy writing. The world view portrayed – the past is good, the class system is good, women are mothers or princesses, anybody not white is either a servant or an entertainer, ‘we’ are constantly in danger of being overrun by ‘barbarians’ and ‘outsiders’, only one very special little boy can save us – clearly chimes with that of Farage. And you would assume, with Cbeebies being…

18. Postman Pat: Special Delivery Service

Postman Pat, like Scooby Doo, is one of those programmes that people remember fondly despite it never actually being any good. Postman Pat: Special Delivery Service was an attempt to sex up the original format of ‘man delivers some letters’ with helicopters and boats and jet packs and whatever other shit a bunch of middle management dickheads wrote on a whiteboard, some time in 2008, under the heading, ‘Things Children Think Are Cool’. Along with a profusion of new hardware, Pencaster also receives an influx of new characters, each with a different regional accent. Now, I don’t want to be…

19. Captain Jake and the Neverland Pirates

Jake was always the worst part of Jake and the Neverland Pirates and promoting him to captain for the fourth series was always going to be a disaster. Power corrupted him, and he became the fully fledged jerk he had always promised to become. As the series progresses, your sympathies transfer to Captain Hook. Pirates aren’t good people, and the world’s obsession with them has always baffled me, but the early episodes of Jake and the Neverland Pirates managed to avoid the need to glamorise murder by centering the stories around children living in a world populated by pirates. They…

20. Grandpa in My Pocket

Despite having the creepiest title of any television programme ever made (not that pocket, grandson. The other pocket) Grandpa in My Pocket is largely trauma free television. It’s a bit too silly for my taste, but I’m not a four-year-old child, so you know, that’s not really my call to make. The reason Grandpa in My Pocket makes the list is because it ruined New Tricks. Allow me to explain. New Tricks, the popular BBC crime drama in which a trio of ex-policemen and their boss re-investigate cold cases, started off with a dream cast – Alun Armstrong, Amanda Redman,…

21. Tree Fu Tom

Tree Fu Tom is a programme with noble intentions. Developed in conjunction with the Dyspraxia Foundation, it encourages children to copy Tom’s on screen movements, helping them improve their co-ordination and fitness. Which makes me feel a bit guilty when I say that it blows. But blow it does. The episodes are about three hours too long and there are no engaging characters whatsoever. Tom himself is a blowhard, David Davis-ing his way through the undergrowth with neither the knowledge nor the subtlety to solve his problems effectively, asking those watching to send him magic goodwill so he can bullshit…

22. Andy’s Wild Adventures / Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures / Andy’s Safari Adventures / Andy’s Prehistoric Adventures

Andy has a lot of adventures. Dare I say, too many adventures? I like Andy. I do. But I do not like his adventures, not any more. (For those of you not familiar with his adventures, they are, in a nutshell, footage of Andy acting the goat green-screened onto footage from old David Attenborough documentaries or Walking With Dinosaurs or whatever). Nobody has ever fully explained how his tomfoolery improves on the original. Just show the documentaries. Sure, you might want to edit out the odd scene of lions humping or a killer whale messing up a penguin, but Attenborough…

23. ‘That’ Christmas episode of Old Jack’s Boat

I want to be clear, from the off, that I have no problems with Old Jack’s Boat. Yes, on occasion, while watching it you do start to wonder if Bernard Cribbins is having an acid flashback or not, but for jeep’s sake, we are talking about Bernard bastard Cribbins here. If he wants to have an acid flashback while presenting a kids tv programme he can. It’s nobody’s business but his own. He has earned that right. The man is a legend. Plus, as if Bernard Cribbins wasn’t enough, Old Jack’s boat also features Freema Agyeman and Janine Duvitski. It…

21st May – Today, 2018

And that’s that. We’re caught up. What did I do this summer? Grew a sunflower. Passed my driving test. What more do you want? My bank details? Well, you can’t have them. Anyway, in October we’ll do some proper blogging. How does that sound? Good? Good.

5th February – 20th March, 2018

A lot of the good stuff I did earlier this year will end up in my round-up of the year I’m planning to do in January. So, you know, to avoid spoilers let’s just say I drove a yellow car, did a nineteen mile walk, went to some places, and had a very good meal indeed. Yeah. That’ll do for now.

23rd October, 2017 – 4th February, 2018

The biggest thing that happened to me during this time was my finally getting around to having driving lessons. For various reasons, that I don’t really need or want to flesh out at the moment, I hated driving when I was seventeen. I moped through a few months of lessons, failed my test twice, then called it a day. And for a very long time, I didn’t need to drive. I have always lived in or near cities with good transport links. You can read when you are travelling by bus or train. I like that. But I needed to…

10th July – 22nd October, 2017

All sorts of things happened. Dan and Georgie got married and it was lovely, Emily started school, we thought about getting a cat called Buster, we went to Dublin and I had some scampi in Howth that was so good it has ruined all other scampi for me, and I went away for a weekend to Penrith with my writing friends that was full of good food and great company and even a bit of actual writing.

27th March – 9th July, 2017

We went to Center Parcs for the second and (let’s be honest, seeing as we could only go during school holidays now, and that’s when the prices go waaay up, way past our budget) last time. I remember, as a teenager, being very snotty about Center Parcs. Who would want to go to what was basically a trumped up caravan park with a swimming pool when you could be out exploring the world? Well, it turns out, me. I would. I would want to go to Center Parcs. Teenage me was wrong. (Teenage me was wrong about a whole bunch…

12th December, 2016 – 26th March, 2017

There are not many lessons that can be taught about how to be a parent beyond the scientific and the general. Children need food, water, warmth, oxygen, attention. You know that. Almost everything else you will have to learn for yourself, and will be dependent on the whims of your child, your life, where you live, etc. I have very little to pass on to prospective parents beyond, ‘don’t panic’ and ‘things generally work out for the best’. Do your best and you’ll be ok. If you live anywhere except a city centre, I would suggest avoiding three wheeled pushchairs,…

29th August – 11th December, 2016

The more observant of you will have noticed that the content provided this month is little more than an exercise in me getting back into the routine of blogging. Nothing wrong with that of course, and think how exciting things will get when I am back in the bloggy groove and no longer typing things like bloggy groove. It’s going to be amaztastic to the bloggy groove maximum. Which is another way of saying, I can’t remember what I did during this time either. I went on a train from Manchester to Stafford with Emily and we went first class…