Saturday, June 02, 2007

Children's TV on Trial - Part 3

Kissing a mate on the cheek isn't exactly the best way, or even a sensible way, to come out. But whatever the merits or otherwise of the 1994 Byker Grove storyline, one thing is clear: that CBBC in the 1990's was prepared to accept the existence of gay people.

Brett Adams, who played Noddy Fishwick in Byker Grove, said:

The reaction to the gay kiss was, I think Mary Whitehouse was sitting somewhere banging a stick on something yeah. A few people weren't happy - a few people were happy. A lot of people were shocked. Noddy was really - he was confused, read signals wrong, ended up getting hurt, ended up seeking help and advice. We actually did put a help and advice number on the show. I did receive a lot of letters from kids who had actually gone and got help and they were thankful - so I'd helped one person, that was fine.

Apart from Byker Grove another popular children's programme, Grange Hill, was also making an effort to be inclusive - there was a gay teacher on the staff until the end of 1999. Since 2000 Grange Hill has had two gay-related storylines, the last of which was very negative, especially in the way homophobic bullying was handled, and the way Miss Dyson treated Emma when she most needed support.

As for Newsround, the last gay news story (reported on their website) was about Will Young in 2002.

It's not surprising that today's 21st-century kids on the BBC4 documentary were very unsure how to react.

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