And then your baby comes, and cries, and howls, and will not sleep ever, not even for five minutes, not even once, except magically at 6:20pm when In The Night Garden comes on, which you only put on so you could have a crap in peace. And now you're STUCK WITH BASTARD IGGLE PIGGLE. FOREVER!
I sometimes feel like I have spent the whole of the last five-and-a-half years watching TV designed for infants. Some of it is amazing. Some of it is a diabolical shambles.
We begin with the aforementioned In The Night Garden. Now, we first saw this when Jimmy was three months old, and my niece was six months old, at Jimmy's nanny's house. The babies were utterly captivated. For months, Jimmy's favourite toy was a toy Iggle Piggle. I tell you now, that show makes The Magic Roundabout look like a sedate discussion of life in rural England. It is madness. Iggle Piggle is a cloth toy, adrift at sea forever, presumably because his mother didn't want him. To get to sleep, he cuddles down with the sail off his boat, drifting manically about the waves, and dreams of The Night Garden. The Night Garden is a land haunted by bizarre and enormous inflatable. Then there's Makka Pakka. He's a curious fellow who lives in a cave, obsessively cleaning his stone collection. And anyone who happens to pass by. Upsy Daisy is the local hussy, with an inflatable skirt, kissing everyone. Three siblings, called the Tombliboos, live in a mound of earth with only one bed, and are forever losing their trousers. There is a typical welfare family, consisting of two parents and eight children, who are always losing children, or the patriarch's moustache. Next door, there lives an identical family, who wear blue and are never seen. When the Wottingers come out to play, you know you're in for a treat. Finally, the Garden is frequently torn asunder by vehicles running amok, threatening the lives of all and sundry.
It's madness. Small children adore it.
Then there's Balamory. Balamory started when my younger sister, who is now a teenager, was an infant. It's still going. It's set in a fictional Scottish island community which only seems to have eight adults and an endless stream of nursery age children. Miss Hoolie, the local teacher, is obsessed with the weather, and seems to hold the entire community together. PC Plum is the island's answer to Taggart. A posh, English inventor (played by a very young Miles Jupp) lives in a PINK CASTLE on the hill. Nobody seems to have put in a complaint to the council about a listed building being painted VIVID PINK. You would think they'd have recourse for that sort of thing, but PC Plum is a bit snowed under. Josie Jump never sits still. Edie McCredie drives the endless supply of children around in her bus. Penny Pocket and Suzie Sweet's age-gap romance is never acknowledged by the show, but it's there. Spencer paints the houses the various different colours, so I presume it's his fault about the castle. None of them ever change their clothes. It's like The Prisoner for kids.
The Tweenies are four, enormous toddler-monsters (I don't know what they're supposed to be) in a preschool run by another monster - Judy, and her boyfriend/dad - Max. The Tweenies are obnoxious arsehole Bella, idiot boychild Milo, whingeing diva Fizz and Jake, who is the baby, but so full of wailing self-pity, you want to call him a waaahmbulance. They constantly bicker, fight, and hate each other and make you wonder how on earth Judy doesn't kill them all and bury them in the back garden. They are accompanied by a dog-monster called Doodles, and a lady-dog-monster called Izzles, who talk to each other in STUPID DOG VOICES. They have a Tweenie clock to decide what they must do next, rather than an actual routine, which might do the horrors good as they're all clearly overtired and overwrought. Wankers.
I think the most awful Cbeebies show, if not solely for the wincing cheeriness at 5am, is Me Too! Me Too! is a show about what your parents do after they drop you off at the childminder. According to Me Too! the first thing they do is get lost going to work, when they surely should know the way by now. I'm not sure these parents aren't just off to get drunk. The childminder is a sage lady called Granny Murray, who issues fortune-cookie-level advice at the start of the show. This advice haunts said parent later on during a dilemma at work, and they're then able to SOLVE THIS THANKS TO GRANNY MURRAY! Based on this, Granny Murray should start childminding George Osborne's children. Granny Murray runs a tighter ship than Judy and Max over in Tweenie Land, it must be said.
Baby Jake's a strange one. Jake is the youngest of TEN SIBLINGS, who all live in a windmill. Their mother looks happy and smiling, rather than frazzled and alcoholic, which is where I'd be had I ten children in a fucking windmill! THE STAIRS! THE INABILITY TO PUT IN STAIRGATES! ARGH! Jake goes off to dance with his weird anthropomorphic friends, with his giant gurning baby head photoshopped onto a cartoon baby's body. It's a bit strange. My children find it the most amazing programme, which is why children do not yet run the world.
Grandpa In My Pocket features James Bolam, which is a definite plus point. Unfortunately, the old series also features Jason Mason, a child so insufferable as to make the Tweenies look like good fun to be around. Grandpa has a hat which makes him shrink, and also able to fly around in a toy plane, and drive a toy car. Jason, for reasons he keeps to himself, finds this garment-rendingly awful, and spends most of the time trying to get his Grandpa back in his easy chair. Well, maybe Grandpa wouldn't need to put his hat on if he didn't need to keep escaping from Jason Mason, the whiny little shit. Maybe if they'd just let Grandpa OUT now and again instead of treating him like a prisoner or a toddler, he'd not NEED his hat. The hat's probably a metaphor for dementia.
Rhyme Rocket consists of two young men being ordered about by a megalomaniac aardvark. The only acceptable TV aardvark is Otis, and this beast is not he. The two young men think up awful rhymes at each other, and it makes one toes curl in embarrassment that this is what young actors have to look forward to.
Zingzillas has been mercifully curtailed from the twenty minute agony it once was. The Zingzillas are four musical apes: Zak, the self-absorbed singer, prone to throwing wobblies at every opportunity like any typical frontman. Tang, the one who plays guitar and seems a bit stoned. Panzee, the one who usually throws her oar in whenever Zak's having a paddy (every episode, I tell thee) and then Drum...who plays the drums, and doesn't speak. Oh yes, all manner of band stereotypes are here! There are a trio of random totem poles that have no impact on anything, and a stoned DJ Loose, who reminds me of a cross between John Peel and Colonel Kurtz. There's usually a theme, which results in a messy mash up of a song at the end. The scat song is a particular joy.
Noddy's a joyless twat as well.
I Can Cook proves that you cannot ACTUALLY write a song about anything, even in kid's TV. However, I grant you, it's better than Big Cook Little Cook which was a dystopian nightmare of a show. Little Cook was a malevolent pixie of a man, determined to ruin everything. Big Cook would have been well advised to bake him into a pie.
Kerwizz is a quiz show, a little like the Krypton Factor for CGI monsters, but truly irritating and with no real point. The Kerwizzator is a manchild (age at start: 14, age now: probably mid-30s. TV is ageing) who smugs down the camera the entire time, like a young Henry Kelly. At the end, they pointlessly race, cheered on by a human audience of children who have basically been employed to cheer at a green screen.
DirtGirlWorld looked like this:
A 90s victim of laddette culture, with hideously big eyes and mouth that moved out of synch with the rest of her face. And her best friend was a weird, bulbous caterpillar. And it gave me nightmares.
My biggest issue with Clifford The Big Red Dog is firstly that the dog is so fucking big they cannot fit him in an apartment block, but have no trouble fitting him on a standard foot passenger ferry. Then it's the idea that you would still love a monstrous dog. Imagine Clifford wagging his tail like dogs do, and felling trees and houses. You'd sell him. You know you would.
The Green Balloon Club thankfully seems to have died a death, but my God it was awful. Shrill, earnest, awful shrieking children, singing about bees waggling their arses. Oh, the agony.
Carrie and David's Popshop featured the undoubted talent of Carrie and David Grant MURDERING AWFUL SONGS OVER AND OVER AGAIN UNTIL I WANTED TO KILL THEM, PARTICULARLY EARLY ON SATURDAY MORNINGS. Again, it seems to have gone now.
Numberjacks is a programme that encourages children to think about numbers in an abstract manner. Possibly. I am forever bemused by the collection of villains. The Numbertaker dresses in white, with a top hat, sneaking around. Then there's Spooky Spoon, a bright pink spoon, hovering menacingly and cackling.
Postman Pat's got a bloody helicopter now. I assume Royal Mail will make him redundant soon, for using the helicopter to deliver people's festive Amazon deliveries, and he'll have to go and work for Yodel.
Fireman Sam used to be a jolly children's jaunt, where Bella Lasagne was considered a totally legit name for a woman of Italian descent, and Norman Price should have been locked up, or at least given an ASBO. Not anymore! Pontypandy has had a FOREST FIRE. It has air-sea rescue. No more sliding around on thin ice for the children - bitches gonna burn. It's like London's Burning without the joy of John Alford.
And then...then there's Thomas The Tank Engine. Thomas The Tank Engine remains as snooze-inducingly awful as it ever was, with added CRUNK RIMES every now and then. Unfortunately, the worst thing about Thomas is that he's such a snide little jobsworth. SUCH A USEFUL FUCKING ENGINE.
There are plenty more...but I think they're probably the worst. Unless you've been made to watch Pingu for eight hours.
However, it's not all bad. Show Me Show Me is AMAZING. Chris Jarvis is an ageless miracle. Something Special is also amazing, and Justin's House is good as well (Gigglebiz is execrable, but nobody's perfect). Mr Bloom is HOT, and therefore his veggies are fascinating. Let's Play is excellent. Alphablocks is actually educational, as is The Lingo Show. I really loved Small Potatoes, but I doubt anyone else even noticed (and Doodle Doo, for that matter. Sod Mister Maker, bring back Doodle Doo!) Melody and Ben and Holly's Little Kingdom are also wonderful, and all of these shows are a thousand times better than the BLAZING INTO YOUR EYE SOCKET SHITNESS of Disney Junior.