Monday, March 24, 2008

In May last year Richard Deverell and Jocelyn Hay appeared on BBC News24 to talk about the future of children's television. Jocelyn, founder of the Voice of the Listener and Viewer, said that children "have a right to information, to educational programmes, live programmes, programmes that reflect their own rich heritage of speech, language, culture and their own environment and locations which help them to grow up to be informed citizens of this country, not of some mid-Atlantic fantasy world."

But instead of celebrating the UK's heritage, programmes like Byker Grove and Grange Hill have been ruthlessly axed - because, ... well one reason given is they aren't in conformity with CBBC's target age range. Another, that they don't reflect kids' changing lives (see Blog 24 February 2008). They've been replaced with cartoons like Eliot Kid (made in France and dubbed in American accents) and fantasy like MI High which has recently been commissioned for a third "action-packed gadget laden" series.

Blue Peter, and CBBC in general have drawn increasingly on American culture and, for example, promoted Trick or Treat to such an extent that police forces around the country are concerned about problems of child safety and public nuisance. And a recent Newsround press pack report was about a £500 grant from the Sport Relief charity to set up a cheerleading group. Previous coverage of cheerleading on CBBC including Blue Peter last year and at least four other press pack reports (see below) may partly account for its burgeoning interest in Britain.

I'm a cheerleader! - 02 November 2005
Why cheerleading involves trust - 17 May 2006
Cheerleading makes us jump for joy - 24 March 2007
Three cheers for cheerleading - 26 January 2008

Basil Brush has been in the news again since my blog last Monday, in which I suggested that some programmes on children's TV (including Basil Brush) seem to be more divisive than cohesive. The police decided not to take action against the BBC, but it's widely reported that the Beeb have decided the episode, Fakes Progress, won't be broadcast again. That's five years after Russell T Davies's complaint about the homophobic content of the episode. So a victory for the politically correct brigade - and quite right too!

The BBC can now get down to making children's programmes compliant with its Purpose Remits and the Values it claims to espouse (see Saturday's blog). In this respect, to be fair, Newsround is now more representative of people from all of the UK - Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and England - than it used to be (see blogs 1 October 2007 and 6 November 2007).

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