Kid's TV

Children’s telly on weekdays is a mystery to me. I tuned in to my annual dose of CBBC this afternoon: the reason, of course, was not to be bombarded with a cerebral overload of “yoof tv” or whatever they call it these days. Heaven forbid. Voluntarily selecting a channel where the presenters seem to be in a drug-induced state of faux happiness while spouting inanities at glove puppets between programmes full of screaming youngsters, flashing images, rapid camera movement and insanely fast editing is my idea of madness.

One of the joys of living in a child-free environ is the general absence of this kind of awfulness eminating from the goggle-box. Equally though, when I talk about children’s programming of my youth, I shall try not to reminisce in wonder at that overly rose-tinted, wasn’t it all marvellous, when I was a kid, stuff. The truth is that the memory plays tricks and it was probably largely rubbish too. The things that stick in my mind were generally animated things like Trumpton, Chorlton and the Wheelies and anything by Oliver Postgate and more latterly Dangermouse, Duckula and imports like Battle of the Planets and The Mysterious Cities of Gold.

I am sure (and kind of scared) that if I went on the Tube of You and looked for some footage of these kind of shows that I used to watch, I would be aghast in horror while, at the same time, fairly impressed that I had grown into someone who was capable of stringing a sentence together. Equally, I shall not mourn the recent loss of Grange Hill… I came from one of those families where it was banned (which probably explains a lot) so it’s absence is hardly a blow. Also, I hear that Blue Peter, which itself has never been appointment TV, seems to be in terminal decline but to be honest, I don’t really care. Give me a cartoon any day.

The reason for tuning in was the return of The Sarah Jane Adventures. Did you expect anything else? Whatever else these kids are watching, they should really take a moment to sit back and give thanks to whatever gods they believe in, that programming like SJA is being made for them. I’d venture an argument that this is not “Doctor Who-lite” or even “Doctor Who for kids” but, on the showing of episode one (and the second part shortly after on the CBBC channel itslelf) this is proper family viewing for all.

Sure, there are kids rather than adults taking up a lot of screen time but that’s hardly a reason for a rationale adult to dislike a show.  There was wit and impressive dialogue, clever plotting, some genuinely good acting all round and a real sense of quality that permeated throughout. Most impressive of all were the SFX that, in places, would not have looked out of place on a big screen movie. A lone Sontaran who had survived the antics of The Poison Sky, had landed on Earth and was plotting revenge. Sarah Jane and the gang went to investigate. Simple… and Brilliant really.

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