Tuesday 17 April 2007

Currently playing on the jukebox in my head.

A few days ago, I was unfortunate enough to witness the BBC children's TV show Boogiebeebies. I strongly suspect that it is a classic case of decision-making by committee. Here's what I think must have happened. (I'm being generous here. The alternative to my committee theory is simply that the program is the product of a badly warped mind.)

Firstly, some bright spark comes up with the idea of teaching kids to dance. Not a bad idea, actually: get them moving, increase their self-confidence and coordination. Good plan. I would not be at all surprised to learn that the original idea involved taking popular chart hits and showing kids how to dance to them. Maybe. Whatever the truth, there is no way on Earth that the initial concept can have been as bad as the finished product.

Because what seems to have happened at a crucial stage in production is that a tiresome git has got involved. Mere dancing to pop-type music was not good enough for them. The program needed to be educational, needed to teach children how to be good citizens, needed to push the state's latest best ideas of What The Kids Must Do. Combining this sort of thinking with popular freestyle dancing has led to something quite, quite awful. It has, in fact, led to a government information advert whose ideas are portrayed through the medium of popular dance. For kids. Amazingly, it is actually worse than that description. And it is the weirdest damned thing I have ever seen on television.

The episode that I saw and am desperately and uselessly trying to erase from my mind was clearly part of the Government's "5 a-day" (or "Why won't the bastard public eat as many vegetables as we tell them to?") scheme.

The show's format involves a very chirpy presenter showing the viewers the moves, taking them through a full routine bit by bit, then performing the whole shebang at the end of the show. He is aided by almost-as-chirpy backup kids. All with a psychedelic background, interspersed with shots illustrating the subject matter of the custom-made pop song — in this case, vegetables and the eating thereof. Mmm.

Here are some of the lyrics:

Take, take the vegetables!
Shake, shake the vegetables!

Because, you see, you shake the water off the vegetables after washing them, prior to cooking them. There is, of course, a vegetable-shaking dance move.

Then there's the line about the difficulties of choosing which ever-so-tasty vegetable to eat:

Ohhhhhh, oh aubergiiiiiine!
And yeeeeeet, I like courgeeeeeette!

The above two lines are accompanied by backdrops, first of giant aubergines, then of giant courgettes. Their respective dance moves involve slowly and lovingly stroking the aubergines upwards, then the courgettes downwards. I may continue to see this image until the day I die.

Don't get me started on Tommy Zoom.

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