The Million Puppet March, CBeebies and Why Kids TV is Important

It’s a cold Autumn day. Half of my family have been laid low by flu and so we’re having a chilled afternoon, gathered around a DVD of the children’s show Something Special. If you’re not a parent, the joys of Mr. Tumble may have passed you by, but trust me – Something Special, and it’s parent channel CBeebies, are jewels in the crown of British broadcasting.

See, Something Special sees presenter Justin Fletcher (who deserves a knighthood) teaching disabled children the Makaton sign language while a clown called Mr. Tumble and his family provide the comedy. And it’s brilliant, partly because it’s creative but, more importantly, it gets disabled people on TV. That happens less than it should, and given that hate crimes against disabled people are on the increase, a show like Something Special is important; vital even.

And right now a group of kids are playing the show’s theme song and I’m welling up and it’s ridiculous because I’m a big hairy 35-year-old, but there you go: Something Special is something special.

I wanted to say this, because over the Atlantic in Washington DC, a million puppets will be marching to protect publicly funded broadcasting. Why puppets? Because Mitt Romney’s comments about cutting funding to PBS threatens, by extension, Sesame Street. Cue a million viral Facebook posts featuring Big Bird, but there’s a serious point to be made – shows like Something Special and Sesame Street are important. Not all children have the same chances in life. Not all children go to the top schools. And while the response by some to this may be dismissive and political, I bet very few of the millions of kids who loved Justin Fletcher or Jim Henson grew up to feel the same way.

So march on, puppets, and may CBeebies and Something Special abd Sesame Streetwin every award available and receive all the funding they need. Because they’re worth it.


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