I’ll be honest here, my children watch a fair bit of TV – probably more than they should and I’d love to say that I’m working on fixing that but right now? It’s a bit of a sanity saver! Having said that I’m not much of a one for doing lots of outdoorsy things in the winter months, and lots of time indoors is less chaotic if everyone is sat still for the odd half hour engrossed in the ever changing challenges of deep sea life (Octonauts), the day to day machinations of a porcine family unit (Peppa Pig) or the way in which you can shift a stuck poo (yes you read that right – Get Well Soon).
My kids aren’t too fussy (well, actually they are very fussy in fits and starts) about what channel they watch. They’ll even watch DVDs (woo hoo!) but, from my point of view there are some clear pros and cons to the two main British freeview channels (we don’t do Sky – crazy, I know!):
The most obvious point of difference? Educational value. There might be some right old tosh on Cbeebies (see Kate and Mim Mim), but Numtums, Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures, Nina and the Neurons, all bring something a bit more worthy to the table. Having said that, letting the children set the agenda on Nina… possibly not such a great idea – why are washing machines noisy? Why is my bed so bouncy? Wouldn’t it be great, just once, to see a small child ask Nina to explain what existed before the Big Bang?
And Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures may leave your child totally clued up on the main feeding habits of a tricerotops but then again it may leave them with the impression that time travelling via grandfather clock is a neat alternative to taking the bus into town.
From what I can see the Milkshake schedule likes to stick to the good old tradition of ‘life lessons’ and morality tales – like the ongoing battle between Nanny Plum and the Wise Old Elf in Ben and Holly – magic (cheating) vs. good old fashion hard work. Actually Nanny Plum often seems to get one over on the Wise Old Elf so maybe that’s a good indication of the Milkshake mentality.
Watching Milkshake: my kids get bored during the adverts (and I’m slightly worried by the ideas being planted in their heads!). Watching Cbeebies: they will audibly groan at the first note of the Katie Morag theme tune (which I actually quite like – there are times when my entire house resembles a ‘midden’ so I feel some affinity there), or Old Jack’s Boat (Bernard Cribbens – sob! Surely the last old man remembered fondly by my generation who hasn’t been outed as a filthy perv), or, heaven forbid, Rastamouse – sorry Jamaican culture, but if your police are not required to wear trousers then there’s something far more sinister going on there than the ganja trade.
If I had to choose the best programmes from each channel, it would be Ben and Holly on Milkshake (morally questionable but who doesn’t love the idea of a heavily sarcastic middle aged fairy and an ancient self righteous multi-tasking elf as a concept?) and Sarah and Duck on Cbeebies (I think I would actually watch this on my own after the kids have gone to bed… ahem).
If the kids had to choose (depending on which phase of the moon we’re experiencing you understand) it would be Little Princess on Milkshake – fair play – or Peter Rabbit on Cbeebies (JJ even picked up a catchphrase from this: “I know that for a fact” – smug bunny!).
So, there we have it – a quick televisual comparison. In my defence, the children also recently did free style painting in the kitchen (sob!), ran each other ragged and (in JJ’s case) mastered the monkey bars at the local playground and launched babyccino rockets on a mummy-time play date. I don’t want those eyes going completely square after all…