When Small Fry was about two-and-a-half she developed a penchant for Peppa Pig and CBeebies. In my heart I rejoiced the fact that her new found love of the gogglebox might allow me some time to go to the loo, make a cuppa, get dressed or tidy up without having a permanent small attachment hindering my progress or any sense of dignity I might have once had.
I also mourned the loss of her innocence – a bit like popping your cherry or offering a small child sugary treats, once the realm of TV is embraced, there is no going back.
I discovered at this time that I hated Peppa Pig. The theme tune, the Pig family and in particular that buffoon Daddy Pig who was incapable of self-restraint and constantly messing up. Peppa was also a pain in the arse and not to be tolerated. Except she was tolerated, because Peppa could ‘babysit’ my child and give me a break for ten minutes (oh, alright, half an hour).
Now Small Fry is almost four and I came to realise as I watched Peppa Pig with her for the billionth time the other day that my feelings about it had shifted. As I watched Daddy Pig flip his pancake onto the ceiling and Mummy Pig vindictively laugh: “Poor Daddy Pig, that was the last pancake too.” I realised I actually liked Daddy more nowadays. While he is spineless and always gives into his child’s selfish demands, quite often falls foul of his own ego and definitely needs a reality check over healthy living, at least he has a sense of humour and can laugh at himself.
I have also realised Mummy Pig is a bit of a cowbag. She’s always on Daddy Pig’s case and has a chronic superiority complex (which her eldest child seems to have inherited).
Peppa’s family dynamic is not the only element of children’s television I’ve found myself pondering hard over the past couple of years. So, in the name of festive fun, here are my 12 Days of Kids’ TV observations:
12. It’s pretty surreal when after a long and stressful day you find yourself watching This Is England’s Combo snuggling with teddies and reading a bedtime story.
11. Mr Tumble’s Aunt Polly is wrong in both the feminist sense (her dress has domestic cleaning items decorating it) and in the general decency sense – she is the worst of all the fairly upsetting Tumble characters.
10. Having said that, it’s clear that Justin Fletcher is a highly skilled child whisperer whose rather entertaining Gigglebiz has obvious Russ Abbott influence.
9. Parents like the whimsical and pretty Abney and Teal far more than their children do. That is, until you have watched the same episode about six times because only ten were ever made in total. Then you don’t like it quite so much.
8. Swashbuckle is not as good as Funhouse.
7. The CBeebies Christmas Panto is shit unless you are in the live audience.
6. Topsy and Tim’s dad is far too nice, he is obviously hiding something sordid.
5. Topsy and Tim are really quite vom-inducing in general. Therefore your child will love them.
4. It’s a disaster for everyone when your child outgrows In The Night Garden but when you turn over to CBBC there’s a live action drama on rather than Scooby Doo or Arthur. Cue hysterical crying from child while parent desperately tries to line up a couple of episodes of Little Princess on Netflix instead.
3. At some point you will find yourself smugly proclaim that your child ‘doesn’t watch commercial TV’ and therefore hasn’t seen the pre-Christmas toy advertising frenzy…
2. …Not long afterwards you will find yourself tempted by POP when CBBC and CBeebies fail to come up with the goods. There you will find a wealth of untapped, uneducational viewing, lots of adverts and a moment’s peace. You are no longer smug …
1. …but on the bright side it means you can watch Miffy.
Merry Christmas and a happy New Year! May your stockings be full, your hangovers mild and may your children sleep in until at least 8am!