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.
(image removed on request)
As the whole world knows, there are two types of Blue Peter badge; an ordinary one which you get for sending something into the programme, and a gold one which is awarded rarely for something special – like saving a life. Such is the Mary Poppins–like image of Blue Peter that it came as a great surprise to me to learn that not only is there a silver Blue Peter Badge but also that Connie Huq – the longest-running presenter of the programme – is the partner of Charlie Brooker, creator of Black Mirror and the sneering anchor of a series of news satire programmes collectively known as ‘Wipes’. Not only that, but Huq co-authored one of the best Black Mirror episodes, ’15 Million Merits.’ This takes place in a future world where work and its rewards are virtual: those at the bottom of the heap ride exercise bikes which power the TV series that everyone else watches. It’s the ambition of every biker to get on one of these programmes. Sound familiar?
I can’t be bothered to review the programme here, especially as OH has done a much better write-up:
And whaddayaknow? I thought I was just being cute combining Blue Peter with Black Mirror, but there actually is a Black Peter. In the folklore of the Low Countries he is the companion of Santa Claus:
I had a picture prepared but I strongly suspect it’s a white woman blacked up, so I’m posting this one instead. I will, however, post a link to today’s radio 4 ‘Point of View’ which is about ways in which we police ourselves:
People are dropping like flies now: the baby-boomer generation is being mown down like an army at Passchendaele, and barely a day passes without further news of a hero or heroine being taken from us. Today saw the death of one of my childhood icons, John Noakes. Like the rest of my generation I grew up with Blue Peter, specifically the Blue Peter of Val, John and Peter Purves (aka Peter Perfect) who to me were the definitive BP team. I liked Val; she was pleasant and sensible, and Peter was OK but I never really felt close to him. But John! John was unique. In these days of wacky TV personalities it’s hard to appreciate the impact of an eccentric personality on a child in the late ‘sixties, but John broke the mould. He was not only physically daring, he was accident-prone and clumsy, tripped over his words and laughed at himself. In an age of staid, respectable, word-perfect presenters, Noakes was a breath of fresh air.
I was upset, though, when I found out later about some of the programme’s secrets. For some bizarre reason the presenters never had an autocue: they had to learn the script by heart which, for a live programme which went out twice a week (Mondays and Thursdays as God intended) must have been an added strain. But Noakes later complained that he had felt underpaid and undervalued by the BBC – and when I heard that, I felt almost betrayed. I had felt so sure that what we saw was what we got – a happy family all working together. It made me sad.
So RIP John Noakes. Those of us who came home from school to watch you in black and white will not forget.
John and Shep reunited.
I knew I shouldn’t have but I did. Straight after the Unexpected Visit (of which more anon) I came on here and put all my poems and thoughts and everything else and now, dear reader, I have nothing to say. And I’ve been to my mail inbox and checked for comments and there aren’t any so there’s nothing to respond to so so so
Let us speak of the weather.
Oh! I know! let’s talk about Batman. Not the probably quite good recent films which I haven’t seen – but the original crappy and utterly brilliant TV series. Mary and I were glued to these – at least I was and she watched with me – and I must have felt that there was some male-female imbalance in watching this, which needed redressing, because during the adverts we used to go to the bottom of the garden and pretend to be fairies dancing around the bush. Then we’d go back and watch the rest of the programme. I LOVED Batman and afterwards we would tie dressing-gowns round our throats (a good way to hang yourself if you get caught on something) and zoom around the house. I remember being told off because a wandering parishioner (we used to come across a number of these – it was rather like living in a railway station) asked me if I liked being Batman and I said rather crossly: ‘I’m Robin!’ because I was wearing the SMALLER dressing gown and it should have been PERFECTLY OBVIOUS!!!
I think I’m going senile. I can’t remember what happened yesterday but the layout of the vicarage at Edmonton (yes, Edmonton!)* has come back to me – specifically the lounge which was long and cold. I remember getting a TV when I was eight and watching Blue Peter, then making a doll’s dress out of an old pair of tights.
Mark is wrapped sausage-like in his duvet and reminding me of arriving at a rural station in India at around 5 am to catch the early train and seeing lots of men cocooned in blankets, asleep on the floor. By some magic or osmosis they all woke up when the train was due.
Imagine that at Paddington. Bet you can’t.
that’s more than enough for today my little bloglets. I’m feeling more positive about publication, though nothing has Actually Happened yet.
Watch this space!
Still there? Good. Keep it up.
* we left there when I was eight, in case you’re not familiar with the exact circumstances of my life
PS Oh, and Daniel has an appointment at the fracture clinic today, hopefully to have his plaster off. Yay!
I’m in a very “Blue Peter” place at the moment, hence the greeting. I was very disillusioned to find out The Truth about BP – that John Noakes wasn’t really like that but did it all for the cameras. Also, that the presenters felt they hadn’t been treated very well. That did disappoint me.
Is it still going?
To Anna’s after group yesterday – her 75th birthday bash. Most people had left by the time I got there but still saw Peter and Marie, Sue Talton and Marguerite. They did some salsa and sang the blues. Anna continues vibrant – amazing when you think that at her age my Mum was in a home and asking for her yoghurt to be taken out of the frig so it wouldn’t be too cold for her pudding.
Dessert. We always had to call it dessert.
Nowadays I never have dess-udding. Apart from chocolate biscuits. They are my one indulgence.
Will put some photos up of curry with Peter when I find out how. Mark is currently in the Land of Nod as it’s quarter past Unfeasible.
Actually – no, wait! It’s seven o’clock. How did that happen?
Car goes back today. Then writing. Get that article off to the Reader’s Digest.