Wednesday, 20 February 2008

No Place For Old Men? I've found one!

I've been ever so busy since Christmas! I've been making resolutions but its very hard for a young kids' character to keep her resolutions to be an even better kids' character when there are fewer and fewer places to be a kids' character.

After the BBC finally admitted that at five o'clock weekdays, children are the weakest link, I decided I would have to go digital after all. See my Grandad doesn't have digital and isn't going to get it because he will probably be dead by 2012. So I didn't want to be on telly that he couldn't see. But then I realised, much as I like watching telly with my grandad, he's not a kid and I'm not a grandad's character, I'm a kids' character and if I'm on the telly then I can't be watching it with him so that made my mind up.

So I took a look at the digital channels. Wow! There are so many! But for most of them, I don't stand a chance because, as a purple bunny, my teeth are a bit too sticky out and my smile doesn't dazzle. And I can't say "eugh!" in a girly way. And being purple means, even if I do get a fake tan, it will never show.
I'll never be orange enough.

But you don't have to be orange with perfect teeth to be on CBBC or CITV. Hooray!

What you do have to be though is old. And you have to repeat yourself. Again and again and again. In fact I think I should give up this being a kids' character malarky and send my grandad instead. He could be the new Tracy Beaker! He's old enough and repeats himself all the time.

My Analogue Grandad

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

But I don’t want to go to bed yet! 7 – 9pm

You know they’ve been going on about there not being enough homegrown kids stuff on TV? Well I’m home grown. I am. And I’m free range and almost organic except for some antibiotics a vet gave me once for an ear infection. But they didn’t ask for organic children’s television programmes just home grown ones so I think I still fit the bill except The Bill isn’t a children’s programme. But if it were a children’s programme then I’d really fit it.

In fact there are so few homegrown children’s programmes on, that even the children that aren’t home grown have to watch grown up telly. I thought that maybe the grown up telly programmes would like to accommodate their younger viewers and put me in their shows. After all, my ears are gorgeous and don’t need straightening to look fashionable like a beautiful actress’s hair which would have to be a bonus.

Now we’re talking about prime time telly and that should be treated with respect. So I nipped down to the fancy dress shop to see if I could get a decent police uniform to wear. Unfortunately they had a run of office Christmas parties so all the police uniforms had gone. Strangely so had the bunny suits. I was left with the choice of Yasmin from Disney’s Aladdin or a bar of Toblerone. Who goes to a party as a bar of Toblerone? Anyway, not getting the police uniform was an obstacle but I was encouraged to think that if the bunny suits had gone too, then police bunnies was definitely the way to go.

So where else to find a police uniform? How about borrowing one? Now Auntie Jayne warned me that there are laws about impersonating a police officer so I should be very careful. But I’m always careful. After all, children don’t have a second chance on growing up so I don’t want to mess it up for them.

So I skidaddled down to our local nick (see, how I used Bill-like lingo there?) to see if there were any spare ones. Uniforms, not children. The nice man on the desk -I called him Sarge. He didn’t seem to mind although he refused to say

“‘ello, ‘ello, ‘ello”

so I could get his accent right and not break any impersonating officer laws. Told you this was going to be difficult.

Anyway the nice man on the desk, ‘Sarge’, said they don’t lend out their uniforms to anyone. Firstly because it confuses the general public and secondly because it confuses them and thirdly because in the past the uniforms have been returned with boiled egg encrusted on the buttons and it’s a devil of a dry-cleaning job. His words not mine.

So if I couldn’t rent one or borrow one, how about making one? I quite like sewing cos I get to make the machine go really fast but once I got excited and it took ages to unpick my ears. What’s that phrase, ‘beg steal or borrow’? It never occurred to me. Instead, I had a brain wave – why not be a plain-clothes officer? All I would have to do is wear what I normally do and I’d just blend in. Perfect.

I was sad not to get to wear the helmet though. So to make up for this disappointment, I decided to be a super sleuthy type of detective and do a lot of sneaking and tiptoeing. It’s a good job I did because the security on the set was far heavier than that at the police station.

But of course what they’re looking out for in prime time telly are gossip-mongering reporters, crazed fans and even more crazed telly executives...

trying to out do each other in their schedules. I saw at least three executives kicked off the set. They scuttled behind the grundon bins but the reporters were already there sifting through the celebrity rubbish. Still it distracted the security people so I was able to sign myself in quite easily as a rising star on the programme’s time sheet at the entrance gate. I filled it in like this Name? KC.
Character? Yes I am quite.
Position? Rising Star.
Time In? Now.
Time out? No thanks; its too early for chocolate.

I presented myself to the director who took one look at my plain clothes officerness and sent me off to wardrobe to get a hoody. I tried to tell him that not every young person wears a hoody but he was too busy filming Stunt-Reg running up the side of a building. That’s the sort of character I want to be: quietly heroic and with my own stunt double, but I’d still do my own stunts because I’d be so heroic.

Anyway, when I got my hoody, I went back to the director and said I was ready for my quietly heroic stunt but he shoved me over with a herd of teenagers who all looked spotty and cold to me but I was told they’d been cast because they had ‘attitude’. They were great fun people but we were treated like a herd. I said I couldn’t remember seeing lots of quietly heroic teenage police detectives in Prime Time telly before and was quite excited at the prospect. Then Ramjam- real name Umar but he apparently gets more work with that stage name, but here called Thug 1 – told me that any action we got to do was smashing things and running away from the police. Thug 3 got paid a bit extra – he had to push an old lady as he ran away from the police.

I was horrified. Firstly young people don’t always push old ladies. In fact I’ve known lots of young people and lots of old ladies and I can’t remember any of them ever doing any pushing or being pushed. Although there is always a certain amount of jostling if a buffet is involved. So I went back to the director and asked why the young people had to always be doing the running away and the pushing and he said it was in the script so I went to the script writers and asked them why the young people had to always be doing the running away and the pushing and she said it was in the story line and I went to the story liners and they said it was in the story and then I ran out of people to go to because all the executives were scuttling behind the bins over on the Eastenders and Coronation Street sets.

Why couldn’t the old ladies do the running away and pushing? Why couldn’t the kids be the detectives? Why do children always have to see themselves as being sulky or criminal and stealing things (like I said, it never occurred to me to nick a police uniform) or just looking like they shop at JD Sports? What about all the other kids who are skateboard champions, practice their recorder and do their granny’s shopping, and don’t wear their trousers round their knees? I have tried and tried and tried to be a proper kids character for proper kids and this was the last straw. I had a bit of a rant at the director. “

No one cares about us kids, not on telly not nowhere. If they did, we’d have places to play and we’d have telly that not only talked to us in our way but showed what we’re really like to the rest of the world too.”

I guess a hopping mad purple bunny was easy to spot because it didn’t take long for the security guys to come out from under the bins (a BBC executive had tucked himself right at the back and they couldn’t reach him) and eject me from the set. Still I’d made my point. I don’t want to be in primetime telly if I have to be an ill-tempered, drug encrusted, teenagely pregnant, loser of a kid. And I got a policeman’s helmet from the stunt-Reg as a souvenir. I shall sell it on ebay and finance my own children’s detective show in which old ladies get to have stunt sequences and television executives do all the running.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

The Afternoon Slot

When I stay with my Grandad, we always put the telly on in the afternoons.

(I know my grandad doesn't look much like me but that's because I wear recessive jeans)

We love the cricket and the racing. Grandad knows what all the funny men are doing, especially the one in the lab coat who experiments by piling pullovers on himself and sticking his finger in the air. And the racing is pretty cool as well. But the best thing about the racing and the cricket in the afternoons is that they are perfect for falling asleep in front of.

3.30 Newmarket: Afternoon Nap. Odds on Favourite.

And then it’s the best time of the day. Because that’s when the kids programmes start and me and Grandad wake up and watch cartoons, and learn songs and maybe get a bit scared and definitely laugh at jokes and pranks and then watch some sensible drama and stuff.
At least it used to be like that.
Grandad said to me that it’s different now but I thought that was because he is getting older and needs to sleep for longer. So while he was still asleep I decided to go down to ITV Land and see if they needed an extra pair of paws to do the kids’ afternoon slot.

I was really looking forward to seeing all the stars down there: Sooty, Pocoyo and the Cramp Twins. But when I got there, it was all quiet. Not a single kids’ character in sight. Walking round the studios, it was a bit spooky really. My bunny hops echoed eerily and the hair on the back of my bobtail began to rise. I sniffed the air: there was something fetid, pungent, dangerous. I looked round and saw my paw prints tracking back down the corridor. Very odd; I hadn’t trodden in any dog poo. And then there was some scuttling, like a lot of grandads heading for the pavilion at tea.

I turned the corner and bumped straight a whole load of ancient detectives. There was one bloke in a wheelchair but frankly they all looked like they had mobility issues they were so old: Morse, Wexford, Rockford and Jessica Fletcher I recognised but there were loads of others and they all pounced on me, pontificating how I did it and how stupid they were not to have realised it after the first murder but congratulating themselves that now, after five murders and a jolly exciting plot, they had been brilliant enough to work out that the serial killer was in fact a big purple bunny hoping to work in children’s television.

This was weekday afternoon telly with lots of children watching. I pleaded that I’d been asleep with Grandad all afternoon and couldn’t have done any murdering. But then they pointed to my footprints. No I hadn’t trodden in any dog poo. It was blood! Blood! My paws were dripping in blood! Kids’ characters don’t have paws dripping in blood! They told me I was like Lady Macbeth and someone (I expect it was Inspector Dalgliesh because he’s literary) shouted “Out damned spot” which was really unfair because Spot the Dog is a sweet little kids’ character and he certainly didn’t need to be shouted at as he hadn’t pooed in the corridor and besides he wasn’t here anyway.

And that gave me the leverage I needed and I turned the tables on these so-called afternoon detectives: where was Spot eh?
Where were all the other kids’ characters for that matter?
What had these fiendish private and public dicks done with them? Hmm? They didn’t like my questions, I could tell: Morse took out his Crossword and Jessica Fletcher tried to fob me off with a bit of the Bobbing Along song. It’s a catchy tune; Grandad and I always like singing along and I couldn’t help joining in so I didn’t notice some bloke in a Hawaiian shirt who suddenly cuffed me and said “Book ‘em Danno.”

I started to cry but they weren’t interested. They just wanted to show everyone how clever they were by solving the mystery. They realised of course that big purple bunnies are not the murderous type but they didn’t want me spoiling things so they left me alone with all these dead bodies while they went off to round up all the usual suspects for the big reveal scene. It was horrible.

Before they left though, they couldn’t resist having the final word. “You want to know what your crime was, kid?” I was too distraught to speak and simply nodded.
“Being in the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time,”
they said
But this was three-thirty in the afternoon: how could that be the wrong time for a kids’ telly character? They wouldn’t listen though. They just said that kids weren’t wanted here any more and I should shove off.

Monday, 17 December 2007

Ladies wot Lunch

Kids’ programmes at lunchtime are really important. I mean really really important. I mean, I bet we wouldn't have such brilliant fire fighters if kids hadn't been inspired by Fireman Sam’s rescue missions or stirred by Cuthbert, Dibble and Grub sliding down their pole.

That would be so cool to inspire children to take up important jobs like that. And children still have to eat lunch so what a brilliant time of the day to do it? I reckon a twenty first century Watch With Carer is such a great idea, I thought they must be doing it already in TV Land so I went down to see if I could help out.

I was a bit nervous to go into the studio because I now know that audiences can be very scary but these ladies weren’t baying for blood like the morning talk show people. They had no voices left to bay for anything because they’d been singing along at last night’s performance of Mama Mia. They were still very excited though. I overheard the floor manager say there was a definite whiff of HRT in the air. I think that’s like CK1. I think they may have had free squirts on patches in the ladies toilet because several of the ladies had their pants in their hands so I guess they’d forgotten to pull them up in their excitement to have a free squirt.

Anyway before they had a chance to put their pants back on, a very pretty plastic lady walked out with two mugs of coffee and sat behind the presenters’ desk. The ladies in the audience applauded in a very friendly fashion– like my auntie who always sends me a birthday card but never sends a present. I thought if I were round my auntie’s house, I would enjoy watching this show with her.

Then the pretty plastic lady put her two mugs of coffee on the presenters’ desk. As she put down the second one, the audience of aunties seemed to go mad. It was a happy mad though and they all looked like the girl in the Mama Mia poster, except she isn’t throwing her pants in the air. The Aunties were throwing their pants. Not straight away, but when this orange man suddenly ran down the audience stairs. He stopped and kissed a couple of the aunties before energetically joining the pretty plastic lady behind the presenter’s desk.

It was hard to hear what the presenters were called but I think she called him Dead and he called her Melt. They were quite good names because it was hot under those lights and she was pretty plastic and he was ancient enough to be dead, except that he was orange. Anyway Dead and Melt said they had a great show lined up and pointing to an empty stool, said they were looking forward to a surprise guest. I thought it only fair to put them out of their misery so I ran over and climbed on the stool and shouted ‘surprise!’

They weren’t so much surprised as stunned, especially when I said something about the place thronging with aunties’ panties and that not really being the sort of thing to inspire the next generation of fire fighters. The audience went quiet and put their pants back in their handbags. I kind of figured I’d said something wrong but then Dead made everyone laugh by saying the place was not so much thronging as ‘thonging’ and said that must be because of all the ‘thinging’ at the Mama Mia concert and then Melt said there would be a chance to really thing a thong later when the real surprise guest, some Latin bloke called Hooleyegg Glazing-Arse arrived. The aunties cooed and took their pants back out their handbags at that and we settled down to the rest of the show.

The rest of the show was weird. Melt confided that now she is getting older (she’s been twenty six for the past seven years I think) she has realised that many women need to think about their body parts ‘going south’. The aunties looked worried so I reassured them that it would only be for the winter and like the swallows whatever body parts Melt was talking about would fly back next summer. But Melt ignored me and produced her brand new book from under the table. It was called “Under The Bread Knife: how to combine cosmetic surgery with home baking and get more dumpling for less dough.”

Melt had cleverly seen a DIY niche in the beauty market. My favourite picture was the woman who wanted a ‘fuller mouth’ so had inserted the squirty cream nozzle into her lip. Melt said no one would be able to tell that viewers hadn’t had this done in an expensive Harley Street Clinic. But I said the next person who got the squirty cream out the fridge would see the tell tale lip marks and told the children watching at home always to wash the nozzle before having a sneaky squirt. I wondered what children watching at home would think if their aunties or mummys did this with the squirty cream and thought I’d better point out that a) kids might not recognise their aunties or mummys; b) the squirty cream nozzle would be quite disgusting; and c) there might not be any squirty cream left anyway unless their aunties or mummys accidentally bit their lip and that would really be disgusting.

Melt’s leg suddenly slipped off her stool and accidentally kicked mine from underneath me. I don’t think she liked me much because she didn’t say sorry. But that might have been because the producer told her to announce that Hooleyegg Glazing-Arse was ready to sing. The aunties cheered and the place erupted with pants flying out of handbags. I must say he was very handsome. Dead was looking quite jealous so I told him, I bet he looked that handsome when he was young too. I don’t think Dead liked that at all because I’d only just climbed back on my stool when his leg slipped off his and kicked me off again. It was ok though, I told him my great Grandad also suffered from gout so I knew how painful it was. Hooleyegg Glazing-Arse started singing and the aunties started rubbing their HRT patches and it must have been the HRT in the air that really set off Dead’s gout because his leg flew out again and I was kicked right out of the studio.

It was a funny sort of Watch With Carer programme. I guess it might have inspired children but to what? To be pretty plastic or ancient orange? There were no fire-fighting poles, no tractors, no get along gang. Lunchtime telly for kids and their carers? It’s just pants.

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Kyle or Cure: Morning Chats

It is horribly horrible weather today. Not like yesterday. Yesterday the sun was up bright and early and I thought I'd tell the early morning news people but as they're only interested in things 'coming in' and the weather was already there, I didn't.

Instead, I went to find a morning slot on TV where I could show kids some cool stuff that they can do to enjoy the winter sunshine, like making snow goggles or keeping warm on frosty days by doing keepy ups with an old sock (young socks don't know enough to be any good at keepy ups)

Well there were some kids' characters already there on Morning TV. It was brilliant! But only if you're under seven. It was a bit crowded so when a giant bee dusted me in flowertot pollen and made me sneeze, I decided to find somewhere else with a bit more room.

I found a huge room on the other side. It was so big, there were hundreds of people all sitting in the audience and several cameras but still plenty of room. The cameras were all trained on some chairs and a man in a sharp suit and very shiny teeth. The audience clapped too loudly for me to hear his name but it was something like a Scottish island, like Kyle or Arran or Mull. I told him it was too sunny to sit indoors but he said he had some guests.

Well kids like meeting new people and they deserve the best TV so I sat in one of the chairs and waited for Mull's guests. The first one was a burly woman with very bad teeth. She waddled in and Stornoway or whatever he was called asked her loads of boring questions. Well I was bored. It's not very interesting hearing about problems you don't really understand when you want to be playing outside. Her tattoos were quite interesting though. I think her name was Millwall.

Then it all kicked off. South Uist introduced his next guest and the Millwall woman went mad as a thin woman in fat jeans, thundered in. They were arguing about who had stolen whose man and who had the most babies by someone else and who had the best tattoo. To settle the argument Scapa Flow wheeled in a hundred blinged up babies. Most of them were crying which wasn't surprising, their designer nappies looked most uncomfortable: the boys' were low slung 'gangsta' Pampers and the girls' were all sporting Huggies 'thongs'.

Anyway the mums started at each other, yelling and shouting and the audience loved it. The Old Man of Hoy loved it too. I didn't love it and neither did the babies. We all cried because of all the noise and hate and anger in the room. And it was such a lovely sunny day. All I wanted was to make the most of the sunshine before it rains again but no one was listening. No one was interested in the babies or me. We were just accessories. Coffee time fight telly is no place for children.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Breakfast News

Today was day one of my “Find a slot on TV” campaign.

I was so excited last night I woke up extra early, even before the pigeons. When I got to ITV land, everyone was asleep except for some Hoobs. Have you noticed how the elderly get up really early? And they forget things a lot? That must be why there are so many old shows repeated first thing in the morning.

Anyway the Hoobs were very kind and told me where to go.

So I went there and found lots of news people. So it’s not just old people that are up early but news people too. Old news people must be so early, they get up before they go to bed.

It was very interesting in the news people place: there was a lady and a man with a big couch and a very important desk and lots of cameras. Behind them was a huge window into another room with lots of people sitting on wheelie chairs, waiting.

Everyone was waiting. I asked what they were waiting for but they wouldn’t say. They said they didn’t have time to answer stupid questions: they couldn’t afford to miss anything that might come in.

I said that if they were waiting for something to come in, they should watch the door. After all I had come in and no one noticed me until I asked them what they were waiting for.

I think the lady grew up watching Paddington Bear because she gave me a really good ‘hard stare’. But before I could ask her about her favourite children’s telly, something did come in. I didn’t see the door open but the people through the big window all went mad and rushed about on their wheelie chairs.

I laughed when they whizzed about but the lady shuffled her pile of papers at me. The Floor Manager started his count down so I cleared my throat and smiled at the camera to go on air. But the Floor Manager shoved me behind the desk out of sight.

It was quite crowded behind there.

There was a make up girl and a hamster who had to shred the lady’s papers and a man waxing everyone’s legs. The make up girl said it gives the newsreaders a sincere wince when reading out tragic stories. I kept out of the waxing man’s way.

Then just as the hamster was going to let me have a go at shredding, the reporters in the back room whizzed about on their wheelie, the waxing man went into overdrive and the lady winced sincerely:

something very big had come in!

It was very scary. They started using words like ‘child’, ‘explosive’, ‘went missing’, ‘patio’, and I think they said ‘yeti’ but it was hard to tell because...

the waxing man was a bit too diligent...

Anyway I was frightened. A big yeti had come into the building and if anyone’s patio had gone missing, the yeti was going to explode some children! And I didn’t understand and none of the grown ups would tell me anything. All they kept saying was, this is far too important for kids and I should get out of the way.

I hid in the shredder and shut my eyes tight for ages in case the yeti or anything else big came in.

Then when I opened them, everyone had gone home and I had been thrown in the paper-recycling bin. I expect any children who had to watch were as confused as me.

It just needed someone to explain things. But there is no place for children in early morning news.

Monday, 26 November 2007

Baftas for Kids Progs!

It was very very exciting last night! I went to the Children's Baftas! I'd been feeling just like Cinderella because everyone was going except me. Anyway, I'd polished my pumpkin just on the off chance, like you do and it obviously worked because six very sweet white mice lugged it all the way up the M4 to the London Hilton.
I caught the train. Just as well. The white mice were taken for hors d'oeuvres by the Happy Feet penguins and the pumpkin didn't survive the valet parking. I hope all those BBC executives' smart cars fared better.

Everyone always says award ceremonies are glittering events and goes on about how gorgeous everyone looks but if there was a red carpet, it was covered in pumpkin when I got there. I reckon London Lite will have plenty of pictures of glamourous children's presenters and raucous under fives animators tumbling in and out of cabs. So I'm giving you a different perspective.
From under the table. Of course as the evening went on, a number of independent producers joined me. And if you want to have a burping competition in which the winner is the one who best burps the name of a children's channel: Jetix is really hard to burp, much harder than than Nickelodeon. The best name to burp is Cbeebies. It deserved to be Channel of the Year.

Here are the Secret Show guys receiving the award for Best Animation. Unfortunately when the Secret Show guys went up, I got tangled up in the table cloth. But it doesn't matter because I expect they'll be all over the papers for the next week at least- I mean, children's television is very very important so I'm sure the press will honour the people who entertain their children. Don't you?

Here are a few more of my pictures from under the Bafta tables. I couldn't see who everyone is but you might be able to tell me who's who.
A sensible executive?
Or someone in children's factual preparing for its funeral?

Was Squidwort a guest of Nickelodeon? Or is someone getting cold feet about investing in kids?

Who needed the luck of the Irish to win?

Who hasn't signed the Downing Street Petition and is relying on lucky socks to save children's television?

Who received their award barefoot?

And who is tramping all over children's telly?

Who was pitching to who?

It was a great night. Some of the shoes I recognised and even though they ate the mice, the penguins from Happy Feet were very friendly. In fact they got very excited around ITV people. Kept saying they could smell something fishy.

I hope next year I am able to go and maybe even sit up at a table! Maybe kids telly will be able to sit up at the table as well. After all, it's been surviving on crumbs for ages and the crumbs are getting smaller.