Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Phil Redmond's RTS lecture - part 1 of 2

As expected there were no Newsround reports this year about 11 Million Takeover Day.

Readers of Newsround Blog will know that the BBC discriminates against older kids - for example, the recent lack of published feedback from 15-year-olds (blog 2 November 2009.) And then there is the lack of programmes relevant to the lives of secondary school kids.

In February 2008 Anne Gilchrist, then Controller of CBBC, said that children's lives had changed a lot in recent years and that CBBC needed to reflect those changes (blog on 9 April 2008)

Perhaps Anne had in mind that most kids these days are undercover spies like the protagonists of M.I.High, or maybe school detectives like Fletcher Moon, rather than like the humdrum kids who went to Grange Hill. But I'm not sure kids themselves agree - and that's probably one reason why so many have been deserting television. This 'disconnect' was the theme of Professor Phil Redmond's Huw Wheldon lecture to the Royal Television Society in September.

Phil was introduced to the RTS audience by Lorraine Heggessey.

Lorraine Heggessey: ... He never patronised this young audience, nor did he shy away from controversy. He threw a hand grenade into the world of children's drama when, in 1978, Grange Hill burst onto our screens, changing the nature of children's drama forever. Children loved it even though - or largely because - it offended their parents. For the first time they saw the reality of their lives on screen rather than the sanitised twee view that had previously been on offer....

Despite Lorraine's introduction, it seems that the nature of children's drama did not change forever, and we have returned to the old days where the lives of real kids have once again been replaced with a sanitised twee image, but now with an added fantasy twist.

Phil began his lecture with some clips from the days of Wheldon's world children's TV and went on to state his belief that television can be "an empowering agent for social and cultural cohesion." He warned, though, that television itself was at risk, as the younger generation turn away from it.

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