Anne Wood, who founded Ragdoll Productions, producing the popular Rosie and Jim, Brum and Tots TV, prior to Teletubbies, reveals that she “didn’t expect” the controversy that ensued, saying: “I was alarmed really and fairly nonplussed. It was quite harmful, some of the abuse. We got attacked in public.
“I had to leave a party one time as a nursery teacher came up to me and was really abusive about the Teletubbies. I said to my husband ‘I don’t need to be subjected to that’. She said she had been a nursery teacher for 20 years, but I had been working in TV for years before making Teletubbies.
“She thought I hadn’t done anything up till then and didn’t know what I was doing.
“I did also get a very nice letter during that time from a woman who said not to take any notice of the criticism as modern parents liked it.”
The decision not to use language and to weave repetition into the show was a bold move, with Ms Wood, admitting that Teletubbies was “the bravest thing I have ever done in my career”.
Now repetition for young children is acknowledged as part of their essential brain development. A pattern of repeated activities known as schemas are recognized as a way of helping children understand the world and themselves.
A survey of 2,700 parents in the US, Canada and the UK, designed to illuminate how children age 0-12 consume entertainment content and brands, carried out by pure-play children’s content company DHX Media and market intelligence specialist Ipsos has revealed that kids have embraced mobile on-demand viewing, and that tablets are their preferred screen for consuming content…
The survey found that kids have embraced mobile on-demand viewing, and that tablets are their preferred screen for consuming content. In the households surveyed, 72 per cent of children’s daily viewing is from streaming services such as YouTube, Netflix and others. When viewing content, 61 per cent of kids use tablets, with 78 per cent of households having at least one tablet and 29 per cent having a tablet for use by a child only. Tablets were found to be the most popular screen used by children, who used the devices to watch 45 per cent of their streamed content.
In addition, the survey found that 40 per cent of kids use smartphones to consume their content, 90 per cent of households with children under 13 have at least one smartphone, and 14 per cent have a smartphone that is used only by a child. Furthermore, nearly one-quarter of children are using smartphones to watch streamed content.
The survey also found that YouTube is the most popular streaming platform among respondents, followed closely by Netflix. Of the households surveyed, YouTube’s Advertising-supported Video on Demand (AVoD) service garnered 15 per cent of all streaming viewing, with Netflix coming in at 13 per cent.
Amazon has commissioned two series for children, including a reboot of veteran producers Sid and Marty Krofft’s Sigmund & The Sea Monsters.
The live-action series is based on the classic Saturday-morning television series from the 1970s and follows the US streaming service signing a development deal with the pair last year.
The show centres on two brothers and a cousin who befriend a friendly young sea-monster that they must protect from an ambitious sea-monster hunter.
Amazon has also ordered an animated adaptation of the children’s book series Bug Diaries, which follows a comic trio of slimy, crawly and buzzy bug friends whose tiny world offers up huge adventures.
Apple has released a new Apple TV application called iBooks StoryTime to encourage parents and kids to read children’s books on big screen TV.
Apple debuted this new app for tvOS on Thursday, with features like "Read-Aloud," which syncs the audio with the on-screen text that narrates books and flips the pages for you automatically.
Read-Along books are audio-enhanced with different character voices, clear sound effects, and word-for-word narration that kids can follow. In some cases, there are also words highlighted on-screen as they are read aloud.
Kids can flip through the pages of the books on their own by swiping with the Apple TV remote after turning off the"Read-Aloud" feature.
In a piece mainly about Round The Twist nostalgia (I think I have watched the whole series at least three times over with my two grandchildren), we also get to hear about a new novel from Paul Jennings, whose stories the original series was based on.
Jennings’ new novel, The Unforgettable What’s His Name, is about a boy who can blend into his surroundings like a chameleon. It’s funny, easy to read and a madcap romp. In my daughter’s favourite bit, a character gets soaked in monkey wee. And like all his books, it includes some subtle messages about childhood too.
“Some kids don’t want to be noticed – and that’s OK,” Jennings says. “But the world is changing in such a way that it is more and more difficult to get by if you are shy.
“I hope that the book tells the quiet people that their lives can be exciting and successful.”
Netflix is sseeking a “Kids Content Tagger”.
It’s a remote working position ion a 1-year contract, working approx 15 hours a week.
Here’s what’s required:
The Enhanced Content Kids team at Netflix is seeking a Kids Content Tagger to join our group. Are you passionate about kids’ television and movies? Our team is driven by kids media and we are looking for someone who shares our enthusiasm! The ideal candidate has in-depth knowledge of kids’ (ages 0–12) movies and television content. Our team is responsible for determining, across the United States and worldwide: 1) which content belongs in Kids profiles and how it evolves as kids grow up, and 2) tagging Kids shows and movies with an eye toward accuracy and consistency.
In this position, you will:
- Tag Kids Content. You will help categorize kids content for different ages and for hundreds of themes, including tone, storyline, character attributes, positive messages,cautionary material, etc. You will participate in weekly Kids Tagging Meetings and monthly Tagging Workshops designed to ensure consistency across tagging.
- Complete Backtagging Projects. When new tags are added or removed, we will ask you to do broad back-tagging projects that look across hundreds of titles to ensure that tags are applied appropriately.
- Contribute to Kids Innovation Projects. On occasion, the Kids Content Tagger will be asked to assist with special projects. This includes, but is not limited to 1) vetting titles to determine how or if they are suitable for kids, and 2) testing and providing feedback on experimental tagging processes.
The Kids Content Tagger Needs to have:
- Extensive knowledge of kids TV shows and movies
- Passion for and authentic interest in kids television and movies
- Comfort learning and applying a complex categorization system to kids titles
- Ability to collaborate harmoniously with a dynamic variety of team members
Nice to have:
- Background working in the kid’s entertainment or media industry.
via Kids Content Tagger.
Malorie Blackman’s young adult novel Noughts and Crosses is to be made into a BBC One drama series.
The adaptation will be based on the critically-acclaimed first book in the Noughts and Crosses series, set in a dystopian society where black people are the ruling class.
It tells the forbidden interracial love story between Sephy, a “Cross” and politician’s daughter; and Callum, a “Nought” and member of the underclass.
The drama is expected to air next year.
Soprano Katherine Jenkins has realised her dream of working with her director husband, as the pair are bringing out a children’s TV series.
Earlier this year, Jenkins told the Standard how she hoped to bring together her background and that of her husband, Andrew Levitas, to create something.
Now the couple have found the perfect project, and today announced that they are busy on a new animated children’s show which will aim to spark youngsters’ interest in music.
Called Symphony Street, it will follow a group of musical characters and feature music from all genres, chosen by classical crossover star Jenkins.
Growing up, I was addicted to almost all of the ’90s kids’ shows. It was a good time for children’s entertainment and I had a voracious appetite for television that needed to be quenched. Funnily enough, the one ’90s kids’ show I wasn’t in love with is perhaps the best the era has to offer: The Adventures of Pete & Pete.
The story of two brothers named Pete was weird, quirky, and way ahead of its time. The town of Wellsville was overflowing with bizarre characters that performed feats of strength, picked up radio stations via plates in their head, and had existential crises while driving busloads of kids to school. Even the theme song was hip, an alternative rock jam from Polaris that screamed grungy cool. I simply was not in the same league as Pete & Pete, but that did not stop me from revisiting the show as an adult. Let me tell you, giving Pete & Pete a second chance was my best decision ever.
I have no doubt there were lots of kids who were pop culturally attuned enough to see Pete & Pete’s greatness in the ’90s, but I could not fully appreciate the show’s charms until I was older. The themes of social disobedience, embracing the magic of childhood, and being as weird as you want to be play so much better now. Pete & Pete is a brilliant show, one that forces you to look at the world in a new and wondrous way. If you have not seen the show in a long time, then you need to plan a Pete & Pete rewatch immediately.
Some interesting thoughts from Alice Webb, director of BBC Children’s and BBC North:
We want to reach kids wherever they are, but how should the BBC interact with children in digital spaces they shouldn’t be in – like the growing number of under 13s who use social media despite the fact that most social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter don’t allow children under 13 to join? At the last count, 50% of 10-12 year olds in the UK are on some sort of social media site. Other people are in this space in the BBC’s name, but what is the right approach for us?
The BBC’s CBeebies and CBBC are the only providers of public service TV content for children on dedicated platforms in a sea of non-public service content. We want to have an offer that combines both digital and traditional linear services, so that we are covering both bases. But this requires us to do more at a time when budgets are tighter than ever. What’s the right balance, and where should our focus lie?
We want to stay connected and relevant to kids by providing them with ever more personalised and specific experiences. But personalisation requires data about viewing habits and so on, so what level of data should be collected by the BBC for the provision of services to children? What about permissions, bearing in mind that when we talk about children we mean under 18s? And what should we do with the data we are able to collect?
We want to make sure that, however digital we are, we provide enough content – and crucially, access – for kids who are disadvantaged or vulnerable. We want our digital services to be for everyone in a way that’s democratic and inclusive. How can we avoid (accidentally) putting up digital walls that exclude the kids who may need us the most?
These are just some of the questions being debated inside the BBC right now. I know everybody has their own set of questions and concerns depending on their point of view – producer, broadcaster, parent, carer, teacher and more.
And when looking at how to navigate through the digital world for children, it is clear we can’t and shouldn’t do this on our own, and that neither should anyone else working in the children’s media sector.
To young people, the boundaries and distinctions that have traditionally been established between genres, platforms and devices mean nothing; ditto the reasoning behind the watershed system with its roots in decisions about suitability of content. What does this mean? It means that we have to adapt and start thinking more like they do.