Of Course We’re All A Bit Odd…
Warning! Younger readers or those not from the UK may think I am making up much of the following. A brief trip round Google and YouTube will prove otherwise!
People often comment that I have a somewhat strange perspective on life, however I have noticed that many people around my age are replete with all kinds of strange quirks and character traits. Of course you could put this down to being a result of the ageing process, gaining life experiences and getting things into perspective.
More recently however, prompted by mental journeys back into childhood in order to have content for this blog, I have begun to think that there may actually have been more sinister forces afoot. A dark government (or even bigger) plot, to carry out some kind of consciousness alteration experiment on a whole generation. I refer of course to children’s television of the 1970’s.
I believe that the whole idea was spawned in the 1960’s, with the deceptively innocent sounding “Watch with Mother”. Here we were introduced to a cast of string puppets of varying degrees of strangeness, ranging from the fairly mainstream Muffin the Mule, through the clearly odd Andy Pandy, who spent his entire life in his pajamas, through to the clearly envelope pushing, Bill and Ben the Flowerpot Men.
The latter consisted of the adventures (without ever leaving their flower pots ) of two, northern sounding string puppets, made of flowerpots, who could say nothing but “Flobalob” or variants thereof. Their best pal was a weed, called Weed, and all he could say was “Weeeeeeeeeed!”.
Obviously, this could have been seen as an innocent accident or a one off, and if the story ended there I may have been inclined to agree. However, that was not the case and as we moved from the 60’s into the 70’s, the plot thickened further……
My next exhibit would have to be a program that was clearly the product of a mind that was not entirely on an even keel. This particular entry actually offers some evidence of a more global plot afoot, as the BBC imported this one from France. Ladies and gentlemen, I present…..
Yes, it is of course, The Magic Roundabout. The whole thing was totally bizarre. A dog thing, modelled on a toilet brush, would have adventures with a cast of characters including a big headed girl in a mini skirt, a VERY suspicious old bloke on a bicycle, a pink cow who liked to roller skate, some weird creature that looked like a boil and used a spring as his mode of transport, and a rabbit who was clearly stoned 100% of the time. Oh, and a snail called Brian.
I can see no circumstances in which the “suits” in the BBC children’s department could let this kind of thing through for the consumption of children unless it was approved at governmental level. No child could possibly watch this programme without it having a lasting effect on their impressionable minds.
Added to the issue of all of this mind altering stuff that was being thrown at our young minds, was the fact you simply couldn’t escape it. In the UK at that time there were a total of three channels. That was it. And to add insult to injury you had to get up to turn them over as there was no such thing as a remote control. No DVR, no Blu-ray or DVD, not even any VHS or Betamax video recorder.
Side note: I do actually remember the first remote control I saw for a TV; my Grandmother in Scotland had one. It only had two buttons, channel up, and channel down. We had hours of fun, and drover her to the point of insanity, when we discovered that my brother’s metal slinky, if rocked from hand to hand, pushed out exactly the right frequency to change the channels instead of the remote.
Obviously not content with the merely exposing us the the psychedelic reality of the Magic Roundabout, the BBC children’s department then moved to warp minds as to the sciences, and how the world works. At the Centre of this part of the plot I present my third exhibit, marked exhibit “C”……… The Clangers!
Now this little beauty really took the prize. In this version of reality, with which the child of the 70’s was presented, space was filled with planets like this one, where the indigenous population had apparently been knitted, rather than having evolved.
These creatures seemed to resemble the love child of a mouse and and anteater. Unfortunately, due either to the atmospheric conditions on their planet, or perhaps fact that they seemed to be missing a mouth, their only means of communication was though the apparent use of a slide whistle which had evidently been knitted into their vocal apparatus.
As if this whole set-up wasn’t quite weird enough, the only other inhabitant of their planet seemed to be a green dragon, who appeared to be made out of play-doh, and whose special skill was, of course, making soup. At this point there was clearly beginning to be a lasting effect on the children of the era, as this character later gave his name to an 80’s Indie band.
Towards the end of the 1970’s clearly suspicions had been raised, and the stranger British and European shows started to be seen less and less. We were however, merely being lulled into a false sense of security. The next test that was about to be unleashed upon the unsuspecting children of that blighted decade could never have been expected. It also helps to confirm my theory that this whole experiment was a global conspiracy (although that hinges on whether this stuff was really shown to kids in its home country too).
The next thing we were hit with was specially flown in from the good old U S of A. I can only assume it was created somewhere deep in the bowels of a studio in LA, where the creators had been locked in a room lit only by lava lamps, and fed cocktails of uppers, downers, and hallucinogens until they were on a voyage to trip out city. Only at that point could the Banana Splits have been conjured into existence.
Only a mind more warped even than mine could begin to explain the thread behind this one, so I won’t even attempt it and will just stick to the facts. In short, the stars of the show were four mutants, who judging from the headgear, were also part time firemen. The four consisted of a keyboard playing elephant, some sort of lion thing with a red nose (could have also been a reindeer with his horns under his hat, who knows?), a space cadet dog mutant who clearly didn’t know what day of the week it was, and an orange ape (maybe?, I’m open to offers), that played the drums and was equally off its head all the time.
This hapless crew would then proceed to bumble about banging into each other, and then randomly climb into ATVs and drive about banging into each other. Then, even more randomly, they would burst into a song (I use the term advisedly), as it seems that at the time being in a band when on your own TV show in the USA was compulsory. If that’s not entertainment, I’m really not sure what is.
Looking back, I think you will agree that we, as a generation of young and impressionable children, really stood no chance of growing up looking at the world in anything like a normal way. We were doomed from the off. So please, if you’re talking to a fully grown product of the 70’s, don’t be too harsh on us, we may seem odd to you but to other victims of this torture, it all makes perfect sense.
Checking up on the 80’s it seems like those in charge began to understand the damage that had been done, and things started to become a bit more, mainstream. I thought at first glance that it was all over, and that my generation would be the last affected. Then, as the millennium approached we found out that those responsible had merely been lying low and perfecting their techniques, before unleashing their ultimate weapon…………….