My salad dressing days

Myth-perpetuation and children’s programming
November 3, 2005, 12:51 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Those who spend a lot of time watching broadcasting aimed at pre-schoolers will be familiar with the cute mini-films one finds bang in the middle of otherwise surrealist, puppet-based psycho-dramas such as Teletubbies.

I feel sure that there is some heavily-researched psychology underpinning this approach.

**imagines circular memo issued to Commissioning Editors (Children’s Broadcasting) at the BBC**

…Please note that pitches for programmes will only be considered if the antics of the brightly-coloured, freakish creatures are punctuated by vignettes from Real Life with which our core audience can identify…Yours, Mark Thompson etc.

It strikes me that these mini-films fall into two broad categories. Frinstance:

Rural Idyll
Opening sequence:
Two rosy-cheeked children (one of each gender) come running towards camera against backdrop of a disused barn and rampaging hens.
What they say:
‘Hello! My name is Evie and this is my little brother Jonty! Today we’re going to catch minnows in the stream at the bottom of our neighbour’s garden!’
In other words:
Reside in the commuter belt of a throbbing metropolis we might, this does not stop our parents – who each work 12 hour days as merchant bankers in London – from seeking to perpetuate their vision of a rural idyll!

Urban Bliss
Opening sequence:
Three or four children of various ethnicities scramble towards camera clutching handfuls of soil and wearing wellington boots.
What they say:
‘Hello! My name is Jatinder and these are my friends Declan, Mohammed and Wei Min. Today we’re going to dig up carrots on an allotment!’
In other words:
Just because we live in a crime-ridden ‘sink estate’ of south London, doesn’t mean we can’t all get along together and find ways of sourcing cheap and healthy fresh produce grown in our own community!

Oooh, I feel a PhD coming on…


16 Comments so far
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Superb analysis, UC. You haven’t commented on all the foreign ones, however. How do they fit into the mix then?

Ooh and don’t forget the culturally sensitive and varied relgious celebration ones

God and I haven’t even got children.

Comment by Pashmina

You mean Tellytubbies isn’t real life? Puzzled. I used to go out with Dipso.

Comment by GreatSheElephant

pashmina: all variations on a theme (can’t say more – it’ll spoil my PhD proposal) and yes, i am concerned that you know so much without having a valid reason to watch back-to-back cbeebies…

GSE: of course you mean dipsy (although i always thought tinky-winky was the better looking of the two)

Comment by Urban Chick

i think she probably meant Dipso.

as for tellytubbies, i have no words. it scares me.

Comment by surly girl

Dipsy maniac? Yes, that works too

Comment by GreatSheElephant

Clearly a fellow mum of young kids 🙂 When one is stuck with watching the surreal Tubbies and pseude-realistic “real life” vignettes in the middle, one has no other choice but to either analyze or switch off one’s mind and not to watch anymore. After 3 years of being terrorized by Tubbies, Bob the Builder and Boohbah (now that is the weird one!), I just switch off. I don’t hear or see them anymore. 🙂

Comment by colombina

You think Cbeebies is weird: my own dear chicklets (urbanchick included, natch) grew up watching and listening to Bill and Ben the Flowerpot Men, not to mention Andy Pandy and Loobyloo who seemed to have a rather dodgy relationship with a large teddy bear. Nuff said.

Comment by motherhen

UC – your mother reads your blog (hello, UC’s mum!! *waves cheerily*)?? blimey, you’re brave. am now wondering how many times i have said swears in front of your mum.

Comment by surly girl

Yay to that…we want to read UC’s Mum’s Blog :o)

Comment by Aginoth

The first time I saw the Teletubbies, while working in a daycare center, I thought it was off-the-charts bizarre. But then, I got used to it, and actually started thinking that they were way-cute. Of course, I grew up watching Puffnstuff. That’s pretty insane, too.

Of course what’s really insane is Jerry Falwell attributing adult preferences to them…

Comment by actonbell

Hubby and I find distinct and disturbing signs that the Teletubies exhibit cult behavior. Specifically in regards to their seemingly insane obsequious deference to the giant windmill. Perhaps we have just thought to much about it. I refuse to let my children watch Boohbah after we watched just a single episode. It made me feel like I was on drugs.

I miss Captain Kangaroo – *sniff*

Comment by katiedid

happy happy la la

Comment by Justine

I can’t believe you allow your children to watch Teletubbies — haven’t you heard that it will make them gay?

Comment by Meegan

That little dancing bear does my head in every time.

Comment by Wyndham

oh god, i’d forgotten about the bear.


Comment by surly girl

actually, the chicklets are a little scared of the dancing bear (and who can blame them?), although they are even more spooked by the puppets inside the pink house (which met cries of ‘no no no’ yesterday)



Comment by Urban Chick

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