Fatherhood²: The Panel Reviews… In the Night Garden

July 3, 2013 at 10:57 am

Welcome to the first in a regular (well, let’s hope so!) series of “Panel” blog posts, where I ask my parent panel their opinions on a variety of parenting issues. To start us off with, I’ve asked the panel to give me their opinions on a few of the children’s TV shows which us parents love to love/hate – starting with Cbeebies and ‘In the Night Garden’…

Here’s what the panel had to say – I warn you in advance, there will be ranting! I asked them to stick to 100-150 words, but as you can see, one of them in particular was so taken with the subject that he just HAD to go on a little (*cough*) longer…

panel-review-itng

Phill James says…

Say what you what about In The Night Garden, the kids love it. It has almost zero educational value, makes no coherent sense and the central character can only really be described as a large, blue… well… thing. Yet despite all of this, it manages to emerge as perhaps the finest version of this style of children’s programme ever created. It is utterly hypnotic and contains no hint of the heavy moralising now common in much of children’s television. It even manages to send your kids to sleep and wind them down, not up. The show doesn’t try to be anything but its own beast and by doing so, somehow manages to triumph. I still don’t know what the hell Makka Pakka is… but I’d gladly go collect rocks with him.

Morgan Lloyd-Malcolm says…

panel-review-titifersI’ve always kind of assumed I’d hate this programme because it’s so insipidly leaked into consciousness as this massive marketing and merchandising machine. However I can’t deny that this crazy depiction of what would happen if we all (parents AND toddlers) took acid before heading to soft play, has saved my sanity and, fuck it, my life more than several times. (I say MY life but I mean my child’s life because, well, ya know…those infanticide fantasies leaking out of a sleep deprived brain that you are appalled by the next day but at the time… they’re, like, totally doable)… ANYWAY.

Those 3am hyper fests thanks to teething are calmed and occupied by Night Garden marathons and for that I will forever be grateful. And also for that drunken, sleepy shit-at-playing-it’s-own-beak toucan who I believe has been created for me. Because it’s me. And every other groggy parent in the same position. The kids can have Upsy Daisy and Igglepiggle and all the freakin’ Pontipines they want because I got that toucan. And me and him sing sweet duets to each other at 3am and he gets me, you know? He gets me. And for that I will always be grateful to In The Night Garden.

Gemma Bailey says…

Where to start with In The Night Garden? (It probably doesn’t matter, if the makers have as little regard for temporal continuity as they do for scale and proportion.) The limited availability of birth control for small wooden people has led to two supersize families inhabiting semi-detached houses in neighbourly tolerance: the Pontypines – hyperactive binge eaters who wear their hats to bed; and the Wottingers – social recluses who border on sinister. They inhabit a grassy area that is also home to a troupe of odd creatures including Makka Pakka, a compulsive cleaner and rock collector; lovebirds Iggle Piggle and Upsy Daisy; the Tombliboos, with their aversion to trousers; the bouncy ball that defies the laws of physics; and the giant, mute, floating Haahoos.

If this programme is attempting to convey some sort of moral to our little ones then it’s lost on me, as I am too distracted by the lack of plot, the continuous size-changing of the public transport, and the incongruousness of the Tittifers’ musical interlude (where did they come from?!). However, In the Night Garden somehow succeeds in defusing the gurning hypermania of the preceding few hours, inducing some semblance of calm just in time for bed – and for this, I am grateful.

Emma Tjolle says…

£14.5 million…14.5 MILLION QUID! That’s how much it cost to make In The Night Garden. That seems like a staggering amount of money to me for a kids programme that, as far as I can tell, has no story, no educational value and seemingly makes no sense…to anyone. £14.5 million for a few random characters to bumble around an even more random looking set. I honestly don’t get it. I don’t feel like I want to go and collect rocks with panel-review-makka-pakkaMakka Pakka – in fact whenever it’s on I have an almost overwhelming urge to throw them at my television. It’s everything I hate about kids tv, the garish colours, the irritating backgound noise, the utter pointlessness of it and don’t get me started on all the merchandise that goes along with it. Thank God my daughter, Eliza has grown out of it now.

Whenever it’s on I always have visions of the creator sat laughing at all of us parents who have bought into this nonsense and plonked our kids in front of it religiously every single day for the first 4 years of their lives. Just what is the point of In The Night Garden? Well, actually it does have a very important purpose. For half an hour every single day, in what we called the Witching Hour in our house (that hour before bedtime when it was pretty usual for Eliza to go absolutely off her head about absolutely nothing!) it did have one very important purpose – it made her sit perfectly still and more importantly perfectly quietly for the blissful half and hour that it’s on and that my friends is flippin’ priceless!

Jon Furno says…

I am a father of 2 – Poppy and Isaac. Both love In the Night Garden – so I must stress that the show’s peculiar ability to mesmerise my children has been a godsend many times, so I thank the shows creators for that. But… and it is a big BUT, what the hell sort of drugs were they on when they created this? Lets have a breakdown of characters:

  • Iggle Piggle – This creature is the stuff of my nightmares. He is a “cutesy” blue version of Frankenstein’s monster. Look at the way the patches of fur are slightly different colours, the way he is lop-sided, the way he looks slightly out of sorts most of the time. If he is not made up of the sewn together body parts of disgarded muppets then I am a monkey’s uncle. He pegs it around the garden without a care and NEVER sleeps. What sort of message is that sending to the kids? I bet there are loads out there who refused to sleep at one point because Iggle Piggle never does. Plus he is obviously a deviant the way he tries to weedle his way into Upsy Daisy’s knickers and likes being washed by Makka Pakka. As for the “tiddle” situation… is it right to teach our children to stamp on the place that a stream of liquid comes out of? I don’t think so.
  • Upsy Daisy – Lifts and inflates her rubber skirt up for all of the other characters to look at whilst watching her dancing and likes to kiss everyone a lot. She also has her own portable bed that follows her around. Doesn’t sound so innocent now, does she?
  • Makka Pakka – why is it acceptable to teach children to be OCD about collecting stones and washing other people’s faces. To this day, Poppy cannot resist picking up stones and I blame this horrible little freak for that.
  • The Tombliboos – Oh yes, lets teach all of our children to drop their trousers and swap them wherever they like.
  • The Pontypines / The Wottingers – I have no idea what the F*%k these things are supposed to be. But, either they are continually interbreeding between the two families or, even worse, within their own families. Nothing like a bit of incest for the kids!

panel-review-ninky-nonkI am going to be merciful and leave the Haahoos, Tittifers, Ninky Nonk and Pinky Ponk alone for now…..

SCALE / PERSPECTIVE – this is possibly the worst thing about the series overall. How the hell do they even justify such blatant disregard for the simple laws of scale/perspective. Even all of the other kids tv (including the godawful ripoffs on Tiny Pop and Pop) can get this right. I understand that the program is aimed at 1 to 4 year olds… but that is no excuse for deliberately messing with their sense of scale/perspective. How big is the Ninky Nonk/Pinky Ponk… big enough to fit all of the cast in… but comparable to a small branch/leaf/bush in some scenes. Why is this so difficult to get right? I understand that the characters are different sizes, but at least be bloody consistent. I am certain that in some scenes the Tombliboos and Makka Pakka seem the same size, then in the next he is about a third of their size. Surely that has to confuse the hell out of little kids who have enough difficulty getting food into their mouth… never mind trying to work out what size things are!