Saturday, September 24, 2011

Blue Peter goes to the dogs

Yesterday's Guardian reported that, as part of Blue Peter's move to Salford, the producers are to phase out the show's pets:
BBC insiders say there has been concern about whether the programme's agenda is keeping pace with the changing interests of its target age group of six- to 12-year-olds.
Nostalgia is always a danger when considering a programme that survives from your own childhood. And when I wrote about the litter of puppies that the programme's dog Petra had, I recognised that much had changed since 1965:
It all sounds like an aristocratic family: Patch stayed at home as the heir and the other dogs were found respectable careers
But however much times have changed, I don't believe that children are any less interested in animals today than they were in the 1960s. And if people do believe this is the case, shouldn't they be doing something about it?

Absent from this report, as it is from so much discussion of what we make available to children these days, is any consideration of what we might want them to learn from us or what we might want them to be like.

In the 1960s Blue Peter's presenters were undoubtedly on your side, but they knew lots of interesting things that you didn't and shared them with you. You don't make good children's television simply by giving children what they think they want - you end up with Tiswas if you do that.

Today's Blue Peter producers put me in mind of Outnumbered, whose scripts will one day be studied  as a key text in the uselessness of middle-class parenting in the early 21st century:
What these modern middle-class parents are saying to their children is: "You are on your own. I have nothing to teach you, no wisdom to impart. You are already much better and cleverer than I am." It is not listening, but a total abdication of their responsibilities.

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