Since becoming a dad, I’ve found myself watching a lot of kids TV. Usually this is with Toddler L, but there’s been far too many occasions when I’ve caught myself staring at CBeebies when she’s gone for a nap. There’s just something so mesmerising, educational and downright confusing about the shows created for our children.
It has always fascinated me how TV networks go about taking a show from initial idea to our actual television screens. I just don’t understand the process – if it’s designed to separate the good from bad, then I’d suggest that something is broken because so much crap seems to get through. I’d love to be a fly on the wall in one of the pitching meetings where, I imagine, writers are praised or ridiculed by management for coming up with the wackiest of ideas to entertain our kids.
Surely the majority of ideas generated in meetings like this must be either made up on the spot or were heavy influenced by a night on drugs. There’s just no other explanations as to why the concept of shows like Teletubbies, In The Night Garden and Waybuloo were ever conceived, let alone made it to our screens. These pitching meetings probably sound a little something like this (or at least I hope they do!):
- Writer 1: “So, my idea is about two little girls who are best friends. They used to be neighbours, but one of their dads got a new job so they had to move away. Each week, despite the distance, they’ll find new ways of bonding, having fun and developing their friendship.”
- Big Wig: “Hmm, that sounds a bit boring. Where’s the USP? Anyone got anything else a bit more, you know, out there?”
- Writer 2: “Erm, erm, erm, so yeah, what if there’s this man who lives with erm, a giant bear, and erm, a gay hippo and, erm, some weird yellow thing who has a zip for a mouth…”
- Big Wig: “Fantastic! I love it. I can see that going on to have 1,000 episodes and span the next 20 years.”
It’s not until you take a step back and critically watch kids TV that you realise just how weird some of the shows are. I just can’t fathom how the concepts for some were created. So, what I’ve decided to do is write my own synopses for some of the CBeebies TV shows that we watch on a daily basis. Imagine if I rocked up to a meeting and presented ideas like this – I’d surely be laughed out of the room!
Can you guess which kids shows these alternative descriptions are for?
- Four alien birds descend upon the unknowing human race and leave behind a trail of destruction in their quest for knowledge, insight and enlightenment.
- A young girl – probably through the use of hallucinogenic drugs – attempts to escape her everyday life problems by imagining that her cuddly toy is an eight-foot, talking rabbit.
- An eccentrically dressed, middle-aged man arranges craft-based parties for young children in a desperate attempt to prove that he is a better artist than Neil Buchanan.
- Two unrelated children, masquerading as twins of a younger age, set about being as annoying as possible in an attempt to see how far they can push the adults around them before they snap.
- An orphaned girl tries to make sense of the world through her conversations and adventures with a duck, as a mysterious man attempts to befriend them by creepily narrating their every movement.
- Two adults with an underlining sexual tension take it in turns to dress up and pretend they’re somebody else as part of an elaborate foreplay scenario.
- A postal worker disillusioned with the privatisation of Royal Mail embarks upon a quest of incompetence to see what it takes for him to be relieved of the job he has come to hate.
Those are my alternative synopses – much better and more accurate, don’t you think? Let me know your alternative show descriptions below!