Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Here's One We Made Much More Boringly

Alright, Those Children From The Cover Of Music From BBC Children's Programmes, you can come out from behind the sofa now. Doctor Who and the 'Worlds' thereof has finished, and it's time for the theme music from exactly the sort of programme that appealed to you gentrified Shrivenzale-fearing swots. The sort of programme that has always polluted any attempt at waxing psychedelinostalgic lyrical about children's television of the past with the overwhelming odiferous strength of Pickled Onion Monster Munch. The sort of programme it was always tacitly dictated you ought to be watching, as opposed to the sort that you actually wanted to watch. The sort of programme that was, well, Blue Peter.

Let's get one thing straight from the outset. If we're plotting a star chart rendered in 'Glam Rock' graphology where the constellations form representations of Mr McHenry and Farmer Barleymow inside a larger strobing swirl of cosmic flares, then Blue Peter has no place on it. Yes, it was popular, yes, it was long-running, and yes, it may have to be grudgingly accepted that its live nature sometimes led to watchable moments of cat-goes-berzerk-and-pushes-John-Noakes-backwards-over-couch hilarity, but none of that can do anything to counter the fact that, in this context at least, Blue Peter is to all intents and purposes an Englebert Humperdinck accidentally included on the bill of a 14 Hour Technicolour Dream.

Nowadays, of course, Blue Peter enjoys a very different sort of incongruity, as one of the last remaining outposts of clean-cut improving semi-educational children's television, and is also barely recognisable in that they actually allow the presenters to have something resembling a hairstyle. Back in the era of Music From BBC Children's Programmes, however, you either loved it or hated it. And if you hated it, it was a dull teacherish Reithian exercise in instructing you in what you should be interested in, populated by over-enthusiastic presenters who lacked even the verging-on-surreal-dryness of other close contemporaries like John Craven, presented from a 'white void' studio it barely deserved, and suffering from a worryingly fanatical devotion to retelling the story of The Stone Of Scone.

No doubt many of those who loved it, and TV Cream's Steve Williams in particular, will have stopped reading by now, but please be assured this is no idle and opportunistic exercise in Blue Peter-bashing. For it was a show that had little in common - station of origin aside - with the more absurdist and chronologically adrift shows that it might have been hoped were to be found on Music From BBC Children's Programmes, and yet was always the first to get mentioned whenever anyone sought to evoke memories of children's television past, with reminiscences about 'double-sided sticky tape' and 'makes' that nobody ever made and the Time Capsule and That Sodding Elephant and when Princess Anne joined them for something or other as if anyone ever cared about that in the first place anyway just generally getting in the way of rightful Chegger-skewed revelry, leading to no end of Barnaby-fuelled resentment towards Peter Purves and company. It was probably a wrongful scapegoat, but it was a scapegoat all the same, and arms had to be taken up against it. Slim Charles from The Wire would have been proud.

And whereas Doctor Who was a welcome and musically pleasing diversion from the path to Play Away-soundtracked enlightenment, Blue Peter came equipped with formal (if jolly) stiffly orchestral theme music that belonged to another age. All of the hopes that had been pinned on Music From BBC Children's Programmes were, it seemed, rapidly fading. The Day Of Those Children From The Cover was upon us.

No comments:

Post a Comment