Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Baby Books and TV Programmes

I've been reading baby books to my daughter virtually every day for the past year or so. There are some elements which they all have to have:

1. Three sheep. Sheep always come in threes in fields.
2. Blue Birds. Birds are always blue. There's nothing more to say about that either.
3. Mice. There's usually at least one mouse on every page of every book. Usually not a central character as such, but hiding somewhere. Maybe in a tree.
4. A completely erroneous view of man's relationship with animals and the countryside. Not just them talking and stuff but also their general happy countenance and having lots of space and grass. This continues into adulthood and stays there. Unless you're a farmer or you live in the countryside.

I've also been watching TV programmes with my daughter. Usually Milkshake! on Channel 5. What you haven't been up at 6am to watch it? You don't know what you're missing. Once-famous celebrities have been doing voice-overs for kids TV programmes for years. Here's some current ones:

The Adventures of Bottle Top Bill – Miranda Richardson
Pocoyo – Stephen Fry
Fifi and the Flowertots – Jane Horrocks
Little Princess – Julian Clary and Jane Horrocks (yes, again)
In the Night Garden – Derek Jacobi
Bird Bath – Richard Briars
The Beeps – Tom Baker

And from my childhood (some thirty years ago!), I remember:

Willo The Wisp – Kenneth Williams
Rhubarb & Custard Too – Richard Briars (yes, again)... and it's still going too. Although it still looks like it's drawn with felt-tip pens I've a feeling it's computer animated. Rhubarb may now have a (wooden) computer but it's one of the few children's programmes that has a healthy anarchistic spirit and retains a charming old-fashioned English sensibility that includes garden sheds, Cornish blue mugs of tea and a 1940s wireless.