Saturday, 28 January 2012

The Early Demise of the Televisual Viewing Policy

Before we had the Rubettes, when Mr Ruby and I were young and painfully self-righteous  naive, I remember Mr Ruby and I discussing a televisual viewing policy for any future offspring of ours. (It's OK, we didn't actually refer to it as the 'Televisual Viewing Policy', although I am aware that this hardly exonerates us.) I seem to remember that the policy included the notion that our, doubtless perfectly groomed, offspring would be encouraged to read through the Radio Times in advance and highlight any programmes of interest. Naturally, in the event of any planned-viewing clashes, we would hold calm and rational discussions as to the best way forward. This was some time ago, so I imagine video recording was mooted as a possible solution.

I say, Father, the Radio Times has some awfully interesting programmes this coming week!

Fast forward ten years or so and, frankly, I am amazed we even had the time to discuss such matters - much less the inclination! Clearly we were bonkers and very much PAC (Pre-Actual Children). I'm sure there were other pronouncements on a wide range of topics but, mercifully, time and the reality of bringing-up two small children has erased them. Maybe the ludicrous telly policy remains in my memory because it is so...well, ludicrous!

What actually happened was that both the Mouse and TR seem to go through phases with their viewing habits. When TR arrived on the scene the Mouse was three years old and I seem to recall a period of wall-to-wall CBeebies and the Disney Cinderella DVD. I remember a good friend passing on her top tip for coping with having one small child and an utterly dependent baby to care for at the same time, 'Teach the older one to work the TV and the DVD player!'  I laughed, thinking she was in jest, but it turned out to be sound advice. Then there was TR's Thunderbirds phase. He would come home from nursery and request the Thunderbirds DVD - four exciting episodes of Supermarionation! - except that TR was at an age where repetition and familiarity counted for a lot and so all we got to watch was episode one, the thrilling - for the first couple of times - Trapped in the Sky! On the plus side, Thunderbirds ignited in TR a love of numbers and he remains an enthusiastic mini-mathematician.

5...4...3...2...1... Building Tracy Island

Currently he has a bit of a thing for Octonauts, an animated series for young children about a team of animals who perform undersea rescue missions. What I can't quite figure out is how come this particular group of animals came together and why they were so interested in marine conservation in the first place. The penguin, I get: it swims and who wouldn't want to preserve their food source? However, the cat, the dog and the monkey I find puzzling,  and don't even get me started on the rabbit! What I do know for sure is that Octonauts makes me nervous. I've already mentioned my fear of fish Imagine my horror, then, when Captain Barnacles recklessly piloted the GUP-A into an underwater trench of such dark unspeakable horror that I had to leave the room.

Oh mine eyes - the horror!
Just as they go through phases of wanting to watch a lot of telly, so the also go through phases of hardly wanting it at all. Like most things, I guess, it ended up being self-regulating and I'm happy to report that, while we still occasionally buy the Radio Times, nobody goes anywhere near it with a highlighter pen and their viewing is largely a mixture of the haphazard and the familiar. Frankly, I wish I'd listened to Abraham Lincoln on the subject of television viewing... oh OK, so television wasn't invented then, but he does have good quote about policy attributed to him:

I never had a policy; I have just tried to do my best each and every day.

As good a theory on child-rearing as you're ever likely to hear, I think,


  1. Those Octonauts definitely look scarier now!! :))


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  3. I on the other hand am I firm believer in hight-lighting the TV mag.....& even have different "coded" high-lights....for example...if it has a huge arrow pointing at the program than I better not miss it or there be trouble! I do find that by high-lighting my TV mag I only bother with the programs I'm interested in & don't sit there hoping through endless channels trying to find something....As for kids shows....I always had a cut-off time for those, I'd of gone mad otherwise....there's only so much Tweenies a woman can take!