Apparently the Queen’s platinum jubilee is next year, which explains why I didn’t know about it. We’re going to get four days’ holiday apparently. Phew! I don’t need to get polishing my flags just yet then… in other news, I’m booked in for a few Hay Festival sessions over the next few days but my mind has gone totally blank and now I can’t remember what any of them were. I’ve got two today so I’ll keep you posted – always assuming that by tomorrow I can remember what they were. Honestly, sometimes my brain seems to be away with the Clangers, on a planet far, far away…
Speaking of which, there was a brilliant retrospective the other night on BBC4 all about the history of children’s TV. It was a real nostalgia-fest and included some interesting insights about attitudes towards children’s programmes which at first were really not a priority. But soon the BBC began to understand that here was an important audience and started to produce quality programmes such as Blue Peter and the groundbreaking Newsround. Sniffy execs initially thought this would be about lost teddies and how to fix broken dolls; in fact they took their audience very seriously and explained world events in a way children could understand. They had some of the best correspondents reporting to them, such as Michael Burke and John Humphrys – in fact one producer complained that Humphrys wouldn’t close the satellite link until he’d done his piece to Newsround – and sometimes even broke stories before the main news did.
This programme was a delight. You saw clips of long-forgotten classics like Jackanory – the first programme I ever saw on children’s TV – as well as short animations by Oliver Postgate such as The Clangers and of course the inimitable Magic Roundabout, weirdly and wonderfully translated from the French and including such gems as Dougal turning to the camera and saying, ‘Waiting for the news, are you?’ They even covered some of the myths that grew up around these animations such as that TMR was all about drugs or that there was a character in Captain Pugwash called Seaman Stains (there wasn’t.) It’s a great watch and it’s still on iplayer so take a look. In fact there’s a whole evening of classic children’s programmes on Sunday night on BBC 4.
Other than that, it’s been rather dismal fare in iplayer-land. Perfectly understandable, what with lockdown and everything, and there’s plenty of good drama on other platforms but we don’t have many of them so I’ve been working my way through old series of the faithful Silent Witness. I’m beginning to think I need to watch less TV anyway – in fact we’re going to reinstate the Friday night thing of switching all devices off before dinner and keeping them off until Saturday night. It’s hard but it’s very beneficial.
And that’s Thursday. Have a good one.