One of the best things about having kids is, of course, that you don't need any excuse to watch children's TV.
Of the programmes that the mini-Ws view regularly, my favourite is Raven. Groups of youngsters are given faux celtic names like Kinsa and Venga and taken off to the Highlands to compete in a series of tasks. Some games are designed to test their physical prowess and involve elaborate assault courses, while others get them solving riddles. The whole thing is held together by a presenter called James MacKenzie who motivates the children (or "warriors") with promises of gold rings and feathers which they can fly on their medieval standards.
His patter is scripted in cod McOlde Worlde vernacular. "Make haste, brave warriors, for the sun is getting lower in the sky and we have but one task to complete before the morrow." My eldest daughter doesn't like my impressions of MacKenzie's Raven character - probably because they're so uncannily accurate. She imagines that Woodford Towers will, at any second, be transformed into a woodland glade and that she'll be asked to do a bungee jump from the top of a 60ft pole. All in all, the show is excellent entertainment and makes the BBC licence fee somehow seem a little more worthwhile. And the likes of Kinsa and Venga get to do something other than hang around on street corners saying Whateva.
Hider in the House is a truly bizarre programme in which a family secretes a celebrity in their home for two days without the mum being aware of what's going on. The TV crews have an ostensible justification for being there - shooting a documentary or some such nonsense - and the kids have to undertake a number of tests which bring them ever-closer to being rumbled. I think it would be genuinely quite exciting for a mum to discover that Jason Donovan had been in her house for 48 hours without her realising, but today's episode involved a girl called Sarah Cawood.
This blog entry on her website last month gives us a clue:
"...Oops, forgot to mention that i'll be on the panel of "Through The Keyhole" on BBC2, 3pm-3.45pm on the 10th April, 11th April and 17th April. David Frost is a total legend. S X"
Who would appear on a show as old hat as this? David, it's over to you...
This post wouldn't be complete without a mention of The Chuckle Brothers, Barry and Paul, who star in a 15-minute programme called Chucklevision. On http://www.thechucklebrothersontour.co.uk/ (which could do with a serious grammatical makeover) we learn that the northern comics were 'born in a suitcase', sometime around the end of World War II. Some viewers will no doubt wish that particular suitcase had never been opened, but I can't help having a soft spot for their old-fashioned sense of humour. A typical gag would involve the Chuckles trying to expose the wrongdoing of an evil scientist who was threatening the world.
Barry: "I think we need to go to the laboratory now."
Paul: "No, it's alright. I went before we came."
Barry: "No! I said laboratory..."
One excerpt from their online biography tells you everything you need to know: The Chuckle Brothers then starred in Britain’s biggest Pantomime ‘’Mother Goose’’ at the Hippodrome Theatre, Birmingham for the 1996/97 Christmas Season.
Sadly, when one of the brothers was recently involved in an accident on holiday, British tourists didn't provide the kind of help he might have expected. Instead, they started taunting him with one of his catchphrases: http://www.thesun.co.uk/article/0,,2001320029-2007190559,00.html Whatever you may think of the Chuckles, no one deserves that kind of treatment. At the very least, the passers-by should have escorted him to the nearest laboratory, where he could have given himself a wash and brush-up.