Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Be Golden And Bright

I’m sure there is something I’m supposed to be grousing about right now, but I’ve been sick as a dog the past twenty-odd hours. Either the noodles with meats and seafood from Sunday’s takeout or the meat feast pizza I picked up yesterday at a Tesco on the way back from an appointment entered my digestive system and lit it up, leaving me shuttling between bedroom and bathroom last night and most of today.

Finally up at about, and still a little confused about what time of day it is, I skimmed through the broadsheet websites to discover that Oliver Postgate had died. With his passing it seemed like another little piece of my childhood had upped and disappeared into the ether. Partnered with animator Peter Fermin in Smallfilms, the pair worked out of a disused cowshed, producing the shows like Pogles Wood, Ivor the Engine, The Saga of Noggin the Nog, Clangers and Bagpuss that played a large part of my television viewing as a kiddie.

Reading his obituary on the BBC website, while basking in the warm glow of nostalgia, I was taken by how remarkable their dealings with the corporation was once they became “established as reliable purveyors of children’s entertainment”:

It was a gentlemanly and rather innocent business, as Postgate later described.

“We would go to the BBC once a year, show them the films we’d made, and they would say, “Yes, lovely, now what are you going to do next?’”

“We would tell them, and they would say, ‘That sounds fine, we’ll mark it in for eighteen months from now’, and we would be given praise and encouragement and some money in advance, and we’d just go away and do it.”

When you read things like that, you realize how right L.P. Hartley was when he wrote “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.”


At 5:37 am, Blogger Jaded and Cynical said...

It's a foreign country, alright.

The thing is, the changes in kids' TV sort of sum up the wider collapse in broadcasting standards over the past decade.

It didn't bother me too much that GMTV and Richard&Judy fucked their lobotomized viewers. Anyone with realistic expectations already factored in that sort of thing.

But Blue Peter getting caught at the same lark was despicable. If a public service broadcaster can't deal honestly with young children then it has no right to exist.

And ITV's decision to pull the plug on kids' TV the instant the government stopped them using those shows as a vehicle to push junk food was a disgrace. Although at least they were honest enough to admit that from their standpoint kids are just another profit centre from which to extract value.

It's sad seeing people like Oliver Postgate (and Charles Wheeler) dying off. It's a reminder that the most reassuring and trustworthy aspects of the business belong to the past.

At 5:17 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...

Kids television pretty much went down the plughole in the 1980s when there was the glut of US-made animated shows that were simply extended commercials for various toy manufacturers.

Sure, in years gone by, a company such as Dinky would bring out a range of vehicles from the Gerry & Sylvia Anderson shows, like Lady Penelope’s Rolls Royce, Thunderbird 2, or the SHADO Interceptors. But when it came to shows like Transformers, He-Man and all that sort of bilge, what we got was a shakedown in our own living rooms.

As the years go on more and more of the unique voices from British television pass away and who is there to fill their shoes? Someone like Wheeler or Alistair Cooke could bring great insight and analysis to their reporting. All we’re going to be left with are these ugly cunts covered in slap who get all giddy telling us about what dress Angelina Jolie wore to the latest premiere.


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