Posts Tagged With: cbeebies

Conversion. It’s a Bing thing

Today, boys and girls, we’re going to ruin ‘Earthshock’.

A while ago I did a video that combined Wolf Hall with Bing Bunny. Mark Rylance starred in both and it seemed like a natural crossover, partly because it seemed to go against the grain of everything that Bing stood for. Because if you’ve seen it – more to the point if you’re a mother or father who’s seen it – you’ll know that there is nothing to stir feelings of parental inadequacy than that wretched bunny, or more specifically the diminutive guardian who looks after him. Bing’s an emotionally precocious child with the uncanny ability to grasp important concepts more or less at the first time of asking, but his full time carer is saintly to the point of other worldliness. Flop, you feel, is the one who has it down pat – attentive, nurturing, and impeccably responsible. Bing breaks his mobile, chucks it in the bin and then hides under a blanket. Flop doesn’t bat an eyelid. As role models go there is none finer, but there is only room for one up on that pedestal. In an age of right-on hipster parenting, he’s Jesus.

But as a dad who defends his right to shout at the kids while trying to wash up, tidy the lounge and deal with the mother of all headaches, I confess I’m a little sick of all the Facebook memes that encourage me to ‘find my inner Flop’. When I can’t get into Joshua’s room because of the mountain of yoghurt cartons and greasy spoons, when Edward’s broken my laptop again and someone’s pissed all over the toilet seat for the third time that afternoon, the inner Flop is about as far away from my thoughts as Donald Trump is from publishing his tax return. I don’t want to clear up shards of broken glass from the kitchen floor and tell them that it’s no big thing. It damn well is a big thing because we can’t eat the trifle. It will cease to be a big thing only after copious amounts of wine. I’m not a fan of the ‘look at me, I’m a shit parent’ alcohol-quaffing pyjama-wearing chicken nugget-baking slummy mummy brigade (I defend your right to raise your children that way, just stop preaching about it on Facebook) but I’m human, and it’s sometimes a little tedious to be a captive audience for parenting lessons given by a creature that is categorically not.

bunny_b

So it was fun exploring that darker side of Flop, combining the sinister machinations of Thomas Cromwell with the cute adventures of Bing and his friends. Unfortunately Aardman weren’t very amused, and had it pulled – it was partly copyright, partly the combination of child-friendly material with adult themes. They had a point. It would be nice to think that young people’s YouTube activity is monitored by their parents / guardians / anthropomorphic sack toys, but you and I both know that isn’t the case, and all the advisory warnings in the world count for nothing because people don’t read these things.

So when it came to doing this one I was a little more careful. I’d like to hope it’s harder to find and the likelihood of some unsuspecting child stumbling across it is minimised. The irony is that this is arguably far less adult-themed than The Dark Side of Flop, given that it relies on the premise of a Cyber Leader dubbed over with dialogue from Bing until he’s…well, you’ve watched it by now, you see how he is. He’s a nutcase. Trudging through thirty-five episodes of Bing to find appropriate sound clips was no fun at all, but I had a riot actually matching things up and making them work. My favourite scene is still the bit in the TARDIS, which is the only one I think really works, but everything else just about hangs together.

bing_tardis

Why ‘Earthshock’? It’s David Banks, really. Because when I look back through the history of the Doctor’s encounter with the Cybermen, he’s the one I remember. The problem with Cybermen is that by and large they lack personality, and thus the stories have to be truly frightening in order to have any real impact (which is why everything after ‘The Age of Steel’ is generally a dismal failure). The Cyber Leader in ‘Earthshock’ has personality in spades. It’s tempting to say that this is nothing more than an anomaly, but over the years I’ve been cultivating a theory: that the biggest mistake we can make about the Cybermen is to say that they have no emotions. I no longer believe that’s the case. Written within the confines of a single sentence such an idea sounds patently ludicrous, but I explain it all here. Go and have a read, then we’ll talk.

‘Earthshock’ was the first Doctor Who story I remember from my childhood, did I ever tell you that? It is quietly marvellous: the surprises, for the initiated, come thick and fast, and the ending is still gut-wrenchingly moving, loathing of Adric aside. Even if you know what’s coming, it’s still great – but it’s better still if you don’t. (I had a lovely conversation with someone recently who was watching it for the first time, having no idea at all that the Cybermen were about to show up. I didn’t think that sort of spoiler-free access was possible these days.) Put it this way: I think there’s a reason why that shattered badge and the silent credit crawl is my first memory of the show, and I do wonder if I managed to exercise a few demons this week.

In many respects this is a spiritual successor to Dalek Zippy, and is in fact the middle act in a trilogy, the climax of which is still under construction (with Willo The Silent the embarrassing spin-off that no one really talks about). It was a hard graft but worth it. It made my children laugh and it is their approval, above all others, that I seek. And it keeps me out of mischief and stops me wondering what other dreadful things I can be doing with Bing and Flop and the other inhabitants of their bright and colourful world.

bing_bed

Oh God, you really didn’t see this. Move along.

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The tenuous Doctor Who / CBeebies connection, part 34 1/2

 

Five memes. Some are Who-connected. Most are not.

1. The obligatory Bing thing

Bing_TARDIS

2. The ‘two cultural references in one meme’ / ‘well, there’s sort of a Big Barn Farm connection’ thing.

Babe-Pig

3. The obligatory Dinopaws thing.

Dinopaws_23

4. The ‘vaguely topical’ / ‘why didn’t I think of this one earlier’ thing.

Messi_Okido

5. And finally, the ‘Catastrophic revelation’ one.

Maisie_Tele

 

Have a lovely Sunday!

 

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Your ears are like rocket fins

So hands up who saw through my subtly rendered and highly convincing April Fool gag, then?

We did manage to convince several people, at least for about a minute and a half. The best April Fool jokes are rooted in reality, and the notion that the serial romances endemic in fan-fiction might find an outlet with an established publisher really isn’t so far fetched. It was Emily’s idea; I rewarded her by naming one of the authors after her. “I’m not so sure about the covers,” she said, after proofreading it. “They looked a bit amateurish. A bit obviously self-published”. So I showed her some actual Mills & Boon covers, and she had to concede I was basically right.

Over at CBeebies, the team decided to show footage of the seven-foot tall TV legend that is Andy Day – “all teeth and curls” – inadvertently losing his ‘wig’ to reveal that, underneath, he was totally bald. Several sleepy parents rubbed their eyes in shock, but most people picked it up straight away. Perhaps that’s the problem with the April Fool season in general: the internet, a medium where one can seldom believe anything one reads, has made its implementation all but impossible. You start the day on edge, checking for signs, indications that something is too far-fetched for words, with the sort of critical eye that really ought to be put to use all the time, particularly when it comes to alternative medicine, stats about immigration, or rumours of that new Breaking Bad series. Or, as a friend of mine put it, “the one day of the year that everyone applies the degree of critical thinking and scepticism to Internet posts that they should be applying the other 364 days of the year.”

It did give me the excuse to do this, anyway.

 

Andy_Bald

Regular readers of this blog will remember that I gave Andy a more-than-considerable mention some time ago, when I pointed out the more-than-considerable passing resemblance to the Eighth Doctor, at least when he was playing Ebeneezer Scrooge. It wasn’t until last week that someone mentioned his astonishing resemblance to Fatima Whitbread (I’m not putting it here. Just Google it), even more so when you consider that he spends a lot of time these days wearing a similar sort of explorer’s outfit to the one that the former Olympian wore in the jungle, when she was a contestant on My Career is DeadFeed Me Bugs! I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here!. The series in question is of course Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures, in which Andy cavorts around the Natural History Museum before travelling through time in a grandfather clock that appears to be bigger on the inside.

Andy_Master

In any event, I’ve had enough bald jokes to last a lifetime. So we’ll can them, shall we? It just brings back bad memories of ‘The Time of the Doctor’, most of which I’d rather forget. And I don’t really have the time to go back through those old episodes again; Emily and I are still only halfway across The Bridge, and only recently have I had the chance to watch that final episode of The X-Files.

Anderson_Makeup

Yes. Well.

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Why CBeebies is bad for your children

All right, here’s how it normally goes.

Complaining parent: I have just been watching Bing with my child. I object strenuously to the language. He talks nonsense and nobody corrects him!

Me: Well, Bing is supposed to be three. He’s still learning language. The adults do correct them, but they do it by example. If they made a show that was entirely about fixing grammatical errors, it would be mind-numbingly tedious. Plus if they all spoke perfect English it would just grate. I’ve seen shows that do that, and they’re tortuous to watch.

Complaining parent: Children are just going to pick up bad habits, though. It’s CBeebies’ job to give them role models.

Me: Not as such. It’s CBeebies’ job to entertain and educate. It does that by presenting realistic, rounded characters. We could argue back and forth about Bing – certainly Flop is far too patient to be even remotely plausible – but the use of language _is_ comparatively realistic.

Whining parent-who-is-probably-friends-with thread originator: Dinopaws is another one. “Thunk”. THAT’S NOT A REAL WORD!

Me: Dinopaws plays with language. The world is very new, remember? They’re trying things out, and part of that is the formulation of language, when applied to things they discover. That’s why they make up words occasionally.

Whining parent: I’m not having my children use made-up words.

Me: So presumably you won’t allow them to read Spike Milligan or Lewis Carroll, then? Or Shakespeare, who supposedly invented half the words in the dictionary?

Complaining parent: Well, it’s all very well, but children are like sponges. They learn from the TV.

Me: They really don’t. Before Bing, it was In The Night Garden. It goes right back to Bill and Ben. A generation has been exposed to Teletubbies and it hasn’t done them any harm.

Illiterate parent: i disagree i seen wot kids are sayin and they dont no how to talk proper and its not right, i thought Cbeebies was there to educate are children but thats just my opinion

Me: [considers re-evaluating previous statement]

Complaining parent: Well, there are children whose parents don’t speak to them enough and just let them watch telly all day and their children will pick up bad habits.

Me: Then they’re bad parents. And that’s something for which the BBC cannot and should not be held accountable.

Complaining parent: All the same, I don’t want my children exposed to language like this. I don’t think these shows should be on TV.

Me: So don’t watch. No one has a gun to your head. But these programmes are very popular and while I can’t exactly quantify the educational benefits, I don’t think they’re detrimental to language development.

Complaining parent: I disagree. I think they should be removed and CBeebies should be more responsible.

Me: CBeebies is more responsible than you realise. They don’t just turn up in a studio and make stuff. This is all researched, argued and discussed all the way up.

Complaining parent: Well, it’s just my opinion. I have a right to state my opinion.

Me: Yes, and I have a right to disagree with you if I see fit.

Complaining parent: Go away. It’s none of your business.

Me: You made it my business when you posted this in a public forum. If you’re that cross about this, send a private message to the BBC. If you’re going to post things on the internet, you have to accept the consequences: people are going to talk back.

Complaining parent: [deletes thread]

Bing_Blackboard

I’ve lost count. I mean it. I sometimes feel I ought to feed these stock phrases into a computer, like they do with children’s school reports, and print out standard responses to save me constantly having to type the same thing over and over. It’s not that the language thing is a majority viewpoint. It’s just that the ones who find it an issue see it as their moral duty to tell the people who made the programme what they’ve heard a hundred times before and don’t care about anyway, and unfortunately I see it as my duty to tell them where they’re going wrong. And so on and so on. It’s Forth Bridge territory (that’s the Forth Bridge as it used to be, before they got that shiny paint that lasts for decades). The worst thing is that such discussions nearly always seem to deteriorate into a slanging match – or, if you want to rework that Beach Boys / Crystals song:

I got into an argument on Facebook just the other day
Disagreed with someone who kept telling me to go away
She asked me why I did engage
I said it was a public page
She fell into a sweary rage
And then she blocked me.

Why do I continue to have this argument? Well, the BBC gets enough flak and is subjected to constant bashing from people who want it to be a bespoke organisation tailored to their own particular needs, and can’t (or won’t) understand why this can never happen. But I wrote an entire paragraph about learning from my own mistakes and wanting to inspire others, and then deleted it – because the inconvenient truth (and I’ve never shied away from this) is that, rather like C.S. Lewis, I like a good fight. Who doesn’t? And who doesn’t want to win and relish in winning? Some days I feel as if I’ve won a victory for common sense and rationality. Other times, after getting blocked by Stacey from Gillingham and threatened by her knuckle-dragging boyfriend, I feel like I’m punching below my weight, and I hate myself.

I didn’t want this to turn into a navel-gazing exercise, so we will abandon the introspection. For the curious, here are some facts:

– There is no BBC-led conspiracy to dumb down your children.

– If you really think an authentic portrayal of developing language is going to harm your children, you need to get out more.

– If you don’t like the gibberish, tough. You’re not the intended audience.

– “Please, won’t somebody think of the parents?” is the world’s worst campaign slogan.

That last one seems to be prevalent in abundance whenever the BBC bring back a supposedly annoying show – which happened late last year during the Teletubbies resurrection. “NOOOO!” was the standard response. “Can’t stand the annoying things, stunting our children’s development” – the sort of statement that shows they’d not only missed the point, they’d not even noticed the point is there: the point is a dot on the horizon, hidden behind one of those hills populated by a CG windmill, a suspiciously plump Dipsy and a nervous-looking rabbit.

“I hope,” said one particular person, who shall remain anonymous because I can’t be arsed trawling through the archives to find her, “that you will listen to these complaints about the new series of Teletubbies and not actually broadcast it. Because no one wants to see this rubbish.” Someone really should tell my two-year-old, who watches every episode of this rubbish with an unbridled sense of joy. The dancing, the repeated language, the colourful enthusiasm – it’s all tailor-made for his age group, and he knows it. I know it. There’s always the risk that he’s picking up bad habits, so the other day I tested him by singing the theme song.

Me: Tinky Winky…
Edward: Dipsy…
Me: La-La…
Edward: Po…
Me: Teletubbies…
Edward: Teletubbies…
Me: Say…hello!
Edward: Hello!

Q.E.D.

Of course, once the series actually aired the complaints died a sudden death, presumably because all the affronted parents had either seen the error of their ways or simply switched over to Milkshake, where you can endure the formerly great series that is Thomas and Friends and cultivate a sense of consumer greed and gender labelling in your children during those appalling ad breaks. In the end, the only things that made me seriously cross in the new series of Teletubbies were some of the cosmetic changes – the fact that the fabulous foursome now have to ask before doing big hugs (an adjustment that’s presumably wrapped up in the consent debacle), along with the freshly-painted Noo Noo, and the needless redecoration of the Home Dome.

Doc_Dome

There are always new parents on the CBeebies Facebook page, and always new people to be reassured, but back in November, after a hundred or so of these conversations, I’d had enough. There had to be a better way to get rid of some of the angst, and it turned out to be satire. You may cast the blame squarely at daytime TV, and the sort of heart-rending commercials that saturate ad breaks in between Judge Judy and the Come Dine With Me marathons. Adopt a snow leopard? Check. Heart disease? Yup, got it. Jean and his filthy water, gazing solemnly into the camera as the flies buzz around him? Oh, you’ve seen that one, haven’t you? I wouldn’t trade places with that poor kid for all the coffee in Brazil, but the cynic in me notes with appreciation how the emotional content of such campaigns is milked for maximum tissue effect. For better or worse there is a formula to these things, and if nothing else, I think I grasped it here.

I will spare you most of the production details. It was a troubled shoot, because one child wasn’t being particularly cooperative, although I managed to get some usable footage. Music was a public domain piece I found on YouTube and narration came courtesy of the splendid David Winstanley, whom some of you may remember from that spoof Public Information Film I did a while back about the dangers of playing in quarries. Most of my friends seemed to get the joke immediately, undoubtedly thanks to my Facebook arguments clogging up their timeline. But somewhat predictably, there were a good number of people who completely missed the satire. “You’ve written ‘biggerer’ at the end,” said one person. “Doesn’t that undermine your point?”

Then there’s Ian Bellis, whose YouTube comment deserves reproducing more or less in full. “I think it is time Cbeebies got took off BBC,” he says, “because it is doing those things to the children out there. Also there is a inappropriate TV show on there. Get well soon. It is because of a silly doctor named Doctor Ranj and he is talking about Wee, Poo and they dancing about being sick and singing too! Nobody wants to dance or sing when they are poorly! CBBC is more better! Chuggington is one annoying TV show, where trains jump up and down and turn quickly around bends. Nobody wants to ride on a Chuggington train! The only shows on Cbeebies which don’t affect your speech and make you learn about stuff is Go Jetters and Topsy and Tim! Cbeebies should not make shows that affect speeches and don’t make you grow up like a baby!”

If it’s meant to be ironic, he does a darn good job and he has yet to admit that he was joking. Either way, it’s a prime example of the principle “that, without a clear indicator of the author’s intent, parodies of extreme views will be mistaken by some readers or viewers for sincere expressions of the parodied views”- or, to give it its proper name, Poe’s law, after Nathan Poe, as opposed to Edgar Allan.

Po

Yes. Well.

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Uptown Funk: The CBeebies Edition

Do. Do-DO-Do, Do-DO-Do, Do-Do. You’re humming it now, aren’t you? Oh, it’s catchy. It’s one of the most cynically manipulative records since ‘The Living Years’, a cocktail of old sounds under a modern groove, several records ripped off (amateurs borrow, experts steal) in order to make a song that teenagers play loudly through their phones in those evening alcopop sessions in the park, even as their parents dance badly to it at the office disco. It is masterfully produced, expertly performed and I love it. Say what you like about the state of contemporary music; Mark Ronson’s a genius.

I first encountered ‘Uptown Funk’ at Butlins, in February last year, where it featured in the finale of Diversity‘s street dance act. They were tight, they were effortlessly entertaining and I was humming that song for weeks. Winter turned into spring and someone did a lipdub featuring hundreds of classic movies. Then someone else did a montage using dance sequences. Then someone else did the same thing with the Golden Age of Hollywood. I have not linked to any of these because chances are you’ve seen them, and because my own meagre offering – proud of it as I am – does tend to pale into insignificance. But that’s OK. “Always,” said Max Ehrmann, “there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.”

Here’s a reflection on parenting. When you’re faced with the prospect of bad behaviour, you can sometimes circumvent it by simply upstaging it. One evening in August I had to entertain four tired, slightly fractious children – and a very well-behaved dog – in the van in a Lidl car park while Emily shopped. I did this by turning up the radio, and singing along to ‘Uptown Funk’ at the top of my voice, accompanied by with the sort of extravagant, flamboyant Dad dancing that would make Carlton Banks raise an eyebrow. In doing so I attracted the attention of several passers-by, as well as the cashiers in Lidl, who stared in bemusement while Emily pretended she didn’t know who I was.

When we were done, Thomas said “Dad, that was really embarrassing.”

I said “You think that was embarrassing? You just wait and see what I’ve got planned for your teenage years.”

oBaf2lv

Fast forward to October, and the video you saw at the beginning. I won’t go into the details, except to say that I restricted myself to HD clips only, which is why certain programmes aren’t featured (I’d have loved to have included Big Cook, Little Cook, but the surviving footage on YouTube really is rather grainy). In a way, that sort of self-imposed limitation made things easier, because otherwise you find yourself floundering under the weight of serious choice fatigue. There are so many CBeebies programmes (past and present) in which dancing features. Several shows are featured more than once, partly because they fit but partly because I was exhausted and just wanted to finish the thing. This was as painstakingly down-to-the-frame as anything I’ve ever done, and hopefully it shows, at least in the decent parts.

The first person I showed it to was Alan Gilbey. “It’s good,” he said, “but it needs more Dinopaws!”. Which gave me another idea, but that’s still in the works, so you can’t see it yet. In the meantime, this went on YouTube and round the houses (I’ve been informed, anecdotally, that several people who are in it saw it and liked it) and there it now sits, drawing in a steady stream of visitors. Certainly the hit count – 105,000 as we go to press – is gratifying, and as close to ‘viral’ as I am ever likely to get.

Just in case you’re interested, here’s a list of all the shows featured, in order of first appearance:

Rastamouse
Show Me Show Me
Twirlywoos
Balamory
Let’s Play
Zingzillas
Brum
Boj
Dinopaws
Gigglebiz
The Elves and the Shoemaker
Number Raps
The Lingo Show
LazyTown
The Tweenies
Dinosaur Raps
CBeebies Pantos: Strictly Cinderella
Something Special: We’re All Friends
My Story
The Three Little Pigs
Numtums
Tilly and Friends
Charlie and Lola
Furchester Hotel
Peter Rabbit
Tree Fu Tom
Make Way For Noddy
Kerwhizz
Teletubbies
Justin’s House
Sarah and Duck
Mr Bloom: Get Set Grow
Alphablocks
Waybuloo
Pingu
Small Potatoes
Grandpa in my Pocket
Wussywat the Clumsy Cat
Let’s Celebrate
Baby Jake
Hey Duggee
Lunchtime Song
Same Smile
Mister Maker Round The World
Old Jack’s Boat
Katie Morag
Swashbuckle
Carrie and David’s Pop Shop
Swashbuckle does ‘Happy’
CBeebies Prom
In The Night Garden
The Let’s Go Club

Would I do it differently now? Probably. There are vague synchronicity issues I’d like to fix, mostly near the beginning (I swear the original is correct; I think it happened during the YouTube encoding). On the other hand it mostly works. A couple of scenes still make me wince. But I am pleased, in particular, with the way it unfolds in the last minute. Don’t believe me? Just watch.

(Yeah, you knew that was coming.)

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The CBeebies Amalgamation (part two)

First of all, this.

I mean, I have no idea what’s going on here. I assume it’s some sort of satanic ritual before the Japanese airing of Dinopaws (or ダイナパウズ)たいそう, as they call it over there). The shouted names, the manic dancing…it’s obviously supposed to conjure up the spirit of long-dead reptiles. All that’s needed is a vial of incense and a couple of sacrificial chickens. I checked the ‘up next’ suggestions and there are a bunch of these, which I opted not to see because there’s only so much excitement you can take in one day.

Whovians amongst you, of course, will have figured out that the chap on the right does appear for some reason to be wearing the Sixth Doctor’s coat. Cosplay suggestions for his grinning companion are more than welcome; please leave them in the usual place.

Coat

Dinopaws is a programme we talk about quite a bit here at Brian of Morbius, mostly because it’s one of the most endearing and imaginative shows to hit CBeebies in years. It’s earned its share of bad press, of course, largely because of the language component: Gwen and Bob are still playing with the concept of language (Tony appears to have made up his own, and it’s strangely reminiscent of the sacred words held by the Knights Who Say / Who Until Recently Said ‘Ni’.) This leads to all manner of complaints about made-up words and language development delays from parents with nothing much else in their lives. Children learn language from the adults they interact with; anyone who is picking up permanent habits from TV is watching too much of it. To conclude that it’s the BBC’s responsibility to educate our children is to completely pass the parenting buck. Such stupidity also ignores the work of Lewis Carroll, Ogden Nash and Spike Milligan, but let’s not go over all that again.

There’s a darker component to Dinopaws, of course, when it comes to feedback, and that’s the inevitability of the creatures’ eventual demise at the hands of a massive meteor / comet / crashed spaceship containing an impetuous maths prodigy. Cue much doom and gloom across the Twittersphere from parents who find themselves unable to truly enjoy the programme because of the looming threat of a total extinction event. Except that’s not the way it works, because (as we keep saying) Dinopaws isn’t set on Earth. It’s set on another planet, called Marge, with all sorts of other things going on. Not convinced? Look at the sky! The sky is all over the place! That’s not a Pangean sky!

Look, why stop there? There’s a lack of realism all over the shop. Why not discuss the fact that the theme to Topsy and Tim really ought to contain the words “We can be / Anything / But only within the confines of particular gender stereotypes”?. (That one’s mine, so if you use it, copyright Donna Noble.) Or the happy-go-lucky Petal, Dash, Digger and Gobo, who spend their days in the barn in blissfully doomed contentment.

You’re not supposed to tell children about this, of course, which is presumably why a recent episode of Meet The Kittens – in which a mother cat brought back a dead rabbit for her babies – caused such a stir. There’s no blood in the scene, but they do spend a good deal of time filming the dead animal as it’s dragged across the staircase, and when the episode was re-shown this week the CBeebies Facebook page saw more than a few complaints. “Pretty discusted of seeing what i just saw,” wrote one user. “It upset my children as they love rabbits and i think it would upset other children yes show kittens with it mother but not a cat what has caught it prey and taking it to its kittens to feast on i do not want my children watching that kind of stuff on cbeebies i think u need to say sorry on air to all the viewers as that was unexceptable.”

That was one of the less vitriolic remarks. Others got very upset. One person, in particular, saw it as an opportunity to describe every parent who approved as one of the most disgusting people she’d ever met, and when she was called out on this hyperbole she became violently defensive. In the end she opted to leave the conversation because the longer it went on, the more people were not only disagreeing with her but also calling her out for her behaviour and somewhat judgemental tone, which she took very personally. How dare they, she seemed to be suggesting, how dare they have the audacity to tell her she was wrong when she was simply stating what she felt?

Herein lies the problem with most online debate. The moment a remark leaves your head and makes its way to a public forum, it’s no longer your property. It can be retweeted, re-posted, screen-grabbed and ripped to shreds, in a group or on someone’s profile or even in the pages of an online newspaper. There’s a right and a wrong way of doing this. I always make the point of looking at public profiles of anyone I’m about to have an argument with; it enables me to know whether I ought to make allowances or concessions, and it’s worth it even when you get called a ‘weirdo’ or a ‘stalker’. If you want to avoid the potential repercussions for inflammatory viewpoints then for God’s sake keep them private. Facebook is not private. Shouting on a Facebook forum is the metaphorical equivalent of standing up in a Q&A session and talking bollocks; no one will necessarily stop you at first, but you’ll reap what you sow when people start to answer back.

“But it’s MY OPINION,” comes the whiny response from Chantelle or Scott or Claire (or, worst of all, Leanne Logan’smummy). To which my standard response is “So what?”. This so-called right to an opinion is bullshit. It’s something they teach children now before they’re really ready for the responsibility of credible sources and elementary logic (and I know this, having seen it first hand) and we’re now experiencing the fallout on social media. If I told you that the sky was green and that it was my opinion, you’d still tell me I was wrong, and you’d be correct to do so. If I told you that you were a lousy footballer (or, more to the point, a bad parent) and my opinions contained not a shred of credibility you’d argue the toss, and once again you’d be correct. I post all manner of crap on here about Doctor Who and I’m ready to defend every single word of it when challenged. I would expect the same of any rational adult. I’ll routinely tell people this. And if I consider them semi-literate, I’ll point them towards this article here, which sums up my views on things better than I ever could.

tottie1

But listen. Listen carefully. When I was just shy of six years old, I saw an Oliver Postgate programme called Tottie: Story of a Doll’s House. It featured a glacially beautiful, morally twisted doll called March Payne who – in her endeavours to become the sole object of her owner’s affection – started a house fire with paraffin that resulted in the death of one of the other dolls. There was no detail, but it frightened me. And I got over it. When I was four, I saw a public information film in which a young girl ran out into the road and got hit by a car. It terrified me. From that day to this I have been careful when I cross the street, and I keep the gate shut.

Also when I was four, I saw the final episode of ‘Earthshock’, in which Adric dies at the hands of the Cybermen and the credits rolled in silence over a view of his shattered badge. It upset me. When I was seven, I saw an episode of Ulysses 31 in which the characters in suspended animation aged almost to death. It wasn’t the sort of thing that would normally frighten people but it gave me nightmares. When I was eight or nine there was a programme called Knightmare which featured dissolving flesh and cracking skulls. I can still see those images in my head if I concentrate, but it doesn’t matter. When I was nine or ten, there was an ITV show called Wizbit, and don’t get me started on that.

Children bounce back. I bounced back. In our haste to protect our loved ones from the monsters, we’ve forgotten that kid’s TV used to be absolutely horrible. That’s part of being young. You get over it. Memories are short and young minds are durable. That’s why I introduced mine to Doctor Who as soon as I felt they were ready, and why I watch them squirm at the gore with a curious delight. Up to a given point, it builds character. Discussing death builds character. Joshua has never forgotten the face-melting in Raiders of the Lost Ark but it hasn’t warped him psychologically. Part of this, I am convinced, stems from the time he watched our cat die when he was two years old. He accepts it, in a way that Logan-son-of-Leanne never could, because she’d rather wait “until he’s ready”, innit. That’s entirely her choice, but don’t call me out for doing it differently, and don’t accuse the BBC of negligence when you know nothing of its practices. This is a channel that routinely censors fairy tales to suit its intended audience. They’re not beyond reproach, but they know what they’re doing.

Alas, none of this matters when you’re arguing on Facebook. I shouldn’t be surprised. We’re in a world where university courses are censored because of complaints from students who take exception to ‘offensive content’. I’m not opposed to political correctness. I don’t advocate racial or gender stereotyping. I understand why they no longer broadcast It Ain’t Half Hot Mum. But I do wonder when we started to lose our backbone. More to the point, I wonder what these whining grown-ups with too much free time actually want from these emotive, expletive-ridden rants. What would it take to redress the balance? What would it take to make the act of a dead rabbit acceptable?

No, you really didn’t see this. Move along.

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That Wolf Hall / Bing Transcript

One of the most popular searches on this blog is for Bing Bunny – the Ted Dewan creation who currently has his own CBeebies programme, in which he stumbles through life with the help of Flop, his saintly guardian. It’s a popular show in our house, although my interest in Bing basically peaked when I produced a mashup that replaced Flop’s calm, reassuring dialogue with something altogether darker. If you’ve not read about that, I suggest you nip over to this post and do so. The resulting video was not one I showed my kids, but it was good, and I was proud of it.

And unfortunately, it’s not on YouTube. Aardman cited copyright infringement and a desire to avoid mixing children’s shows with adult material, which in a way is fair enough. Despite my warnings in the item description as well as at the very beginning of the video, I’m sure there are still children watching – and while I don’t advocate unfiltered YouTube access I have to accept the fact that there are many people in the world who are stupid. It’s a sad state of affairs, but there it is. Nor dare I risk it on Vimeo, in case Aardman are monitoring.

So I had to take it offline, but – as I said on the other post – there’s always a transcript, right? And now that series nine has wrapped I actually have time to get this done, and here it is. I won’t pretend that something isn’t lost in the telling, but if you can get someone to perform this with you, as well as someone else to play a lute in the background, you will at least get the general idea. Amateur dramatics: it’s a Bing thing.

For clarification –

  • All Flop’s dialogue is from Wolf Hall
  • For that matter, so is Pando’s (and he has Bernard Hill’s voice)
  • All Gilly’s dialogue is from Father Ted
  • Everything else is from Bing

Oh, and episodes used (in order of first appearance)

  • Goodbye
  • Storytime
  • Mine
  • Giving
  • Hide and Seek
  • Woof
  • Dark

Fade in…

TITLE:
It’s 15:38. Round the corner, not far away…

 

INT. LOUNGE. DAY

[Debbie Wiseman’s mournful score plays. Bing and Flop walk down the stairs; a dejected Sula sits nursing her sodden shoe.]

FLOP: Go on.

BING: I didn’t want to say goodbye.

SULA: But it isn’t a goodbye now. It’s a badbye.

FLOP: She hates you. She despises you. She wants you gone.

BING: Oh! [He runs off, excited]

Bing_Wolf (1)

 

INT. BATHROOM. NIGHT

[A naked Bing, in the bath. Flop is trying desperately to keep a book out of trouble.]

BING: Please, Flop. I really want a story.

FLOP [wrenching the book out of the path of dripping water]: Is that simple enough for your simple tastes?

Bing_Wolf (2)

 

INT. LOUNGE. NIGHT

[Bing, Flop, Pando and Padget, examining shells after a day on the beach. Bing holds one to his ear.]

BING: I can hear the sea!

PANDO: Bollocks.

PADGET [taking the shell and following suit]: Yes! [off Pando’s yawn] Oh, Pando, are you tired?

PANDO: Still bollocks.

Bing_Wolf (3)

 

INT. SHOP. DAY

[Bing plays with a toy truck, while trying to pick out a gift for Sula.]

BING: She likes her fairy wings. They’re sparkly. And she likes dancing. And her magic wand!

FLOP: She does, doesn’t she? I hear she can tell you where your dead relatives are.

Bing_Wolf (4)

 

INT. NURSERY. DAY

[Bing, Sula, Coco and Pando are playing hide and seek.]

COCO: One…two…three…four…

[Bing and Pando each hide in opposite ends of a fabric tunnel; there is not enough room for both of them.]

BING: I was here first, Pando!

PANDO: Oh, Jesus Christ! By the thrice-beshitten shroud of Lazarus. If I had a crossbow, I’d SHOOT YOUR FUCKING HEAD OFF!

EVERYONE ELSE: Oh, Pando!

Bing_Wolf (5)

 

EXT. PARK. DAY

[Bing and Flop are examining an apparently friendly dog.]

FLOP: She’s a fighter.

BING: Oh. But he’s got my ball!

FLOP [to the dog]: I could put my thumbs in your eyes, and you would sing ‘Green Grows The Holly’, if I asked you to.

BING: He’s licking me, Flop!

FLOP: I don’t like the way he looks at me.

Bing_Wolf (6)

 

EXT. GARDEN. NIGHT

[Bing and Flop explore the garden, Bing in his pyjamas, coat and wellies, carrying a torch. It’s like a really crap X-File.]

BING [calling over the fence to someone out of shot]: We’re having a venture! Hoppity’s all on his own, in the dark.

[Cut to window: we can see that the person Bing’s addressing is Pando, bouncing on his bed.]

FLOP: Tell him to let us in before I show his arse my boot.

BING: Night night Pando.

Bing_Wolf (7)

 

INT. BATHROOM. NIGHT

[Bing’s out of the bath, doing comically exaggerated story actions. The book perches precariously on the edge of the tub. Bing is blowing hard; all of a sudden the book plops into the water.]

FLOP: What’s that?

[The two of them lean over.]

BING: There’s my book!

FLOP: A fucking accident?

Bing_Wolf (8)

 

INT. NURSERY. DAY

[Back with hide and seek. Bing has just hidden inside a hamper; Pando is on his way over and clambering in.]

COCO: Five…six…

BING: Oh, get off! I’m here first!

FLOP: You didn’t find the apostles feeling each other’s bollocks, did you?

Bing_Wolf (9)

 

EXT. PARK. DAY

[Bing sits dejectedly next to Flop, while the dog runs over to its approaching owner.]

FLOP: What’s this? Oh, body of Christ. You just have to say some words, that’s all.

BING [crushed]: Oh…but I wanted to keep him.

GILLY: You big bastard.

FLOP: Hello!

GILLY: I’ll stick this effin’ pitchfork up your hole.

BING: I did. And Sunshine loves me!

GILLY: You can’t move for the bastards…

Bing_Wolf (10)

 

INT. NURSERY. DAY

[Coco is creeping around, trying to find her hidden friends. Bing is in the hamper.]

FLOP: For Christ’s sake man, do you think you can crawl out of your hole?

BING: No! I can’t! Coco will see me, and I’ll be finded!

FLOP: Except you won’t. You don’t have the brain of a flea.

[Roll credits.]

Bing_Wolf (11)

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Nap time

Three images for today, two from ‘Sleep No More’. One I can’t get quite right, despite best efforts, but never mind.

The second one will only make sense if you’ve seen Bing. To anyone who has, it was kind of obvious.

And talking of CBeebies, anyone who was watching last week will probably have seen the episode of Topsy and Tim in which Mossy the dog shuffled off this mortal coil – an episode that I really didn’t expect to have me in tears, but there you go. Blame the hormones. In the days following the episode’s transmission, the CBeebies Facebook page has been awash with memes showing Mossup (the real life dog who played Mossy) Photoshopped into various places, leading to some confusion from stupid people (“Hang on, isn’t she dead?”) and at least one person saying “THIS IS NOT APPROPRIATE!”, when a better choice of words would surely have been “I WAS NOT EXPECTING THIS!”

Mossy_1 Mossy_2

So naturally, I did one as well. Because why not?

 

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Dinopaws Revisited

You’ll have to wait a few more days for the more substantial post I have planned; it’ll go up when I’m not thinking about packing for festivals. In the meantime, Dinopaws. Because Dinopaws is great, and it’s been a while.

Dinopaws_8

 

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Have I got Whos for you

By the time you read this I will be on my way to Pembrokeshire. This post, therefore, takes the form of one of those final “We leave you with news…” segments on Have I Got News For You.

First, archive and previously unseen images from the ‘Day of the Doctor’ filming sessions cast two of the Doctor Who actors in a rather unpleasant light.

Meanwhile, reports from Comic-Con suggest some inconsistent turnouts.

And there’s tension on the set of CBeebies favourite Old Jack’s Boat, when star Bernard Cribbins hooks up with Don Gilet.

See you in two weeks.

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