There’s something I’ve been meaning to get off my chest for a while – I can’t stand BabyTV. That feels better already, but allow me to vent a little more, dear reader. When we discovered it, we thought it was a blessing – it instantly pacified Dylan when nothing else would. It also seemed to have a variety of different educational cartoons and songs on offer. How wrong we were; it has proved to be a curse that is slowly driving both me and Kate mad.
Characterised by patronising narrators who can’t pronounce certain basic sounds properly, crude animation and songs that perpetually hit bum notes, it is a channel that I can guarantee will ire even the most placid of parents. Sure, there are some redeeming qualities, but I can count them twice on one hand.
Tucky Tales is one of the good ones – a toucan goes round imitating other creatures under the pretence of flattering them. I think he’s actually taking the Mickey so therefore love him for it. He brazenly urinates on whatever is below him while copying a raincloud on the title sequence alone. Legend. Draco is the other good one. He’s a dragon who I imagine toddlers relate to. He is clumsy in his movements and has a temper on him when he doesn’t get his way but is ultimately likeable and teams up with the narrator to solve problems.
Sadly, not all of the characters are like Tucky and Draco, however. There’s an annoying pink slug called Tulli who finds himself on large objects and guesses what they are with the help of an easily-entertained narrator who sounds as though she’s stoned. I only wish he would discover some beer or blue pellets sometime soon.
Then there’s an intensely irritating person of indeterminate gender called Yoyo the Magician. He/she conjures up things to entertain his/her clinically depressed ape friend Darwin by waving a towel in the air and laughing in a way that can only inspire aggressive thoughts by otherwise pacifistic adults.
Then there are the factual inaccuracies. On several of the so-called educational offerings, the narrators seem incapable of differentiating between leopards and tigers, recorders and flutes and tortoises and turtles. I know children of Dylan’s age won’t take it all in, but that’s not really the point. Getting basic things wrong is just embarrassing.
The crowning glory, however, is a song in which an unfortunate child whose birthday it is has a photo of their head superimposed on a badly animated character who dances around with equally poorly contrived animals to a banal song performed by an older child trying to sound like a toddler and hitting more flat notes than most manufactured boy bands when bullied into actually performing live.
So why am I ranting about BabyTV instead of switching over? Well we’ve tried very hard to wean Dylan off it and onto other options such as most of the content on the excellent CBeebies as well as Peppa Pig and Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom – the wonderfully sarcastic Nanny Plum is our heroine – but there’s one thing that we can’t take away from him, hate it as we do.
The show in question is called Louie’s World and follows a simple format – a voice repeatedly says the names of objects that appear on gaudy backgrounds while classical music plays. It’s mundane, but it has an amazing hypnotic effect on Dylan who crawls up to the TV and stays transfixed for the duration.
A bit like the little girl in Poltergeist – maybe we should stop him watching it after all…