Thursday, November 04, 2010


Having a toddler around means watching lots of kids TV. This isn't always as annoying as it sounds as there's some genuinely enjoyably shows around to balance out the incredibly saccharine and sometimes outright patronising tone of the others. What I've found though, is that my mind seems to be spending a great deal of subconscious time working out the hidden meanings in kids shows.

Take In The Night Garden, for instance. Ostensibly a show designed around sleep and dreaming, I can't stop thinking about whether or not it's really a statement about UK in the modern age.

Take Igglepiggle. It's his falling asleep that triggers the visit to the Night Garden, but watch how he always carries his blanket around with him. That's because Igglepiggle represents the modern British man, a directionless metrosexual carrying the accoutrements of life - mobile phones, credit cards, designer clothes and celebrity fragrances - with him like a comfort blanket.

Upsy-Daisy? She's the ancient nemesis of the Thatcher-era Tory party, the single mother, moved forward to 21st century with all the ladette attributes and girl powah hangovers of the nineties and noughties, but mainly now representing the 20-something youth of today who got pregnant in her teens. Watch as her bed chases her everywhere, a reminder that she's living a double life of parenthood and partying. She kisses everyone she sees, dances everywhere she goes, but never invites anyone else to share her bed with her, both because she can't trust men anymore, and also because she only wants to sleep.

Which means that the Tombliboos must be her itinerant children, left to fend for themselves for the most part. Their home is a maze of tree roots and branches, mirroring the home life of many children who sometimes don't know why their mum or dad is alone, or why different people stay the night sometimes. Even their song reflects the relationships they have with men who come to see their mother: "...knock on the door/...sit on the floor/ is my nose/...that's how it goes!". The come in, baby gets left to it's own devices, perhaps with a patronising tap on the beak to say hallo, and then that's it.

The last main character, Makka Pakka, is the older generation. He moves around using a wheeled frame, caring for his rocks, which are symbols of the values of the past that still weigh on him as he struggles to understand the strangely liberal world he is growing old in. Watch him blow his trumpet, as he tries to get his views over to the younger ones, see him wash their faces, trying to remove the veneer of superficiality that's painted onto all of us in a celebrity obsessed media culture. WAtch him be ignored, as Igglepiggle spends all his time with Upsy-Daisy, while the Tombliboos shit in the corner. There's an obvious disconnection between the generations.

Next week: why Timmy Time shows the breakdown of the education system, and a discussion of the sexual themes prevalent in Big Cook, Little Cook.

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