Did you know CBeebies is ten years old this week? Nor did I. It all began so long ago when my eldest daughter was just slightly younger than Charlie is now. Which means I’ve been watching it, on and off – and more on than off – for a decade.
We try not to. As adults, we’re probably in a tiny minority of people who could just about get away without a Tv, we watch so little. That’s not because we’re doing holier-than-thou cultural diversions like singing madrigals or playing string quarters or reading Proust. It’s because we’re too tired. Most decent telly lasts about an hour – I record plenty of it. Then – once the kids are in bed, once the dinner pots are done, once the toys are tidied up and once any homework has been supervised – we just flick through the Sky + planner and give up.
But although our lack of telly goggling is largely involuntary, I do try to ration the amount the kids watch. Because I think they should be doing something else as well as watching telly. But the thing about CBeebies (this is not a sponsored post, honest) is that it’s so darned good. It’s difficult to be discriminating when the quality is so consistently high. And – here’s the rub – it actually inspires my brood to go and ‘switch off the television set and do something less boring instead.’ So what’s not to like?
Well, there’s Waybaloo of course. But enough of that. We’ve all got our bête noire and that’s mine. (I thought children’s programmes had moved on from the coy ‘kiddies’ voiced characters talking in the third-person, but no matter.) Personally, with the benefit of my rose-tinted spectacles, I think you’ve got to go a long way to beat Trumpton. Or Bod, or Mary, Mungo and Midge. Or Hector’s House. Or Mr Ben.
But enough nostalgia. Well, no actually. Because this coming weekend CBeebies is celebrating by showing some classics of the station now not often seen. Things like Big Cook, Little Cook (not one I miss, personally – give me Katy and her ‘slippy, dippy soap anyday’) and Boogie Beebies. Jackanory Junior is on, I think, as is Carrie and David’s Pop Shop slipped in amongst the regular schedule.
There’s been quite a discussion on the CBeebies Facebook page about the celebration. In among programmes that were never part of the CBeebies schedule (Playschool, Playbus) or even part of any BBC channel (Rainbow) there’s been a roll call of such long-gone delights as Brum, Higgledy House, Barnaby Bear (and Becky, of course), The Bobinogs and my own personal favourite, Story Makers.
Personally, I think they should devote an entire weekend to parents’ choice of past CBeebies programmes. The children could amuse themselves doing things inspired by Mr Maker or Louie or Squigglet or similar while we amused ourselves with gone-but-not-forgotten gems.
So here’s a challenge – what would your ideal CBeebies birthday schedule be? There are a few ideas to start you off in the video below. Maybe if enough of us show interest we can persuade them to run it, as a one off?
After all, in terms of hours watched, we must be their core audience!