There's often much talk bandied about in the press about television ratings. Such and such a show got 8 million viewers, what the most watched programme was on Christmas Day and such like. 8 million is quite an impressive number when you consider the vast choice of channels on offer these days.
However for a few of us - several hundred thousand in fact, there is only one channel of choice. In fact thee isn't even a choice if screaming toddlers are to be avoided. From 6am to 7pm daily, if the television is on, the default and only option is CBeebies.
Now don't get me wrong - I think CBeebies do a fantastic job. If the children must watch television at least they can watch one with me safe in the knowledge they won't come to any harm (the infamous "Jimmy Savile" episode of The Tweenies aside). They also aren't being marketed to incessantly with adverts. In fact I wish there had been something like CBeebies when I was a kid - all we had to look forward to was Rainbow at lunchtimes and children's TV at teatime. Which was pretty good, admittedly.
The trouble with CBeebies is that as an adult, you gradually become drawn into it yourself and it addles your brain. You start doing strange things. Where once you'd be humming along to the latest dance tunes on Radio One looking forward to a bit of clubbing at the weekend, now you catch yourself singing the theme tune to Balamory. Or you get back from the school run, put the telly on and watch half an hour of Mister Tumble and his antics before you remember that the children are not actually there.
Some of the programmes are actually quite good. I love Gigglebiz which is sketch show for kids - a bit like a junior Fast Show. My favourite character on that is Keith Fit, an overweight, hopelessly unfit northerner who wears a track suit and believes he is good at sport. Others shows I enjoy include Charlie & Lola (animation), Timmy Time (junior Wallace & Gromit) and Swashbuckle (gameshow). However even these begin to grate after seeing ever episode about 20 times. Apparently children don't have long term memories so it's OK to keep repeating them over and over again.
Those that I do not like include the aforementioned Balamory (lame), and Mr Bloom's nursery, which is some rubbish about gardening with talking vegetables. But the undoubted lowlight of them all is the horrendous "In The Night Garden" which has been on at 6:20pm every day without fail since Ollie was born. Whoever dreamt up this utter pile of codswallop must be applauded for their sheer audacity. How they ever hoped to get it commissioned I shall never know but commissioned it was. There have been 100 episodes made so far and unlike the other shows that repeat the episodes over and over again this programme has taken things one step further. It appears to me that every episode is virtually identical with only a few minor tweaks. Take that bit at the end where Derek Jacobi says (as usual) "Wait a minute! Somebody's not in bed! Who's not in bed?" And lo and behold - it turns out to be Iggle Piggle - every fucking time! For years I've been watching in the vague hope that perhaps just once it might be one of the others, just for a change, but it never is.
Anyway if you've never seen In The Night Garden then congratulations. Your life will be considerably richer for the lack of experience. And if you have kids on the way or plan to have any at some point then good luck - you'll have something to look forward to - not!
CBeebies is aimed at 0-6 year olds. Ollie will be 7 next month. Just as it looked like there would be no light at the end of the CBeebies tunnel he's suddenly woken up to the realisation that there are other channels available - and even found one he likes. Maybe there is life after CBeebies after all. The new obsession is "Food Network". So it's all Barefoot Contessa, Nigella and Jamie Oliver. I must admit there's something quite enjoyable about watching someone carving up a full roast chicken at 10 O' Clock in the morning - in fact it sent me scurrying to the fridge to see if there were any left over slices off the Sainsbury deli from yesterday. (There weren't - I must had had them during the night so I had to have a bag of Walkers Roast Chicken crisps instead). I'm not sure how long the novelty will last but if it keeps Iggle Piggle and his twattish friends off my screen for a while it'll be worth it. Bloody annoying adverts though.
Jason Ayres is the author of three humorous non-fiction diaries and the time travel novel "The Time Bubble", available now from Amazon http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Time-Bubble-Jason-Ayres-ebook/dp/B00L3K1B8G/ref=pd_ecc_rvi_1