Life Mothers & Babies

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Children under 5 should not watch TV alone, Jackanory creator argues

Published 01/02/2013 | 16:12

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Children under five should not be left watching television unsupervised, the creator of Jackanory and Playschool has warned, as she laments the "glutting amount" of "noisy, meretricious cartoons" ruining their taste.

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Joy Whitby, the award-winning producer of many of Britain’s most beloved children’s programmes, has criticised the “worthless” shows



Saying there had been a total loss of any “sense of occasion” as a result of so much television, she added she would not allow a child under five to watch programmes alone.



Whitby, who is still making television shows at the age of 82, said: “If I had a child under 5 at home again, I wouldn’t want to leave him in front of the television set unsupervised if I could possibly help it.



“My real concern is the amount of viewing. There is just such a glut of programming for very small children.



“I truly do not think they should be sitting there endlessly watching.

“I have been to houses where that happens and I am horrified, because I think ‘I’m not sure you’re watching anything worthwhile’. The children are just getting their pallet hardened.



“I worry about the glutting amount for children from early morning six till six. There is a total loss of the sense of occasion; looking forward to something that you can’t get all the time is a lost pleasure.”



Although there are good examples of children’s television, such as the Horrible Histories series, she said the worst were “meretricious cartoons”, that are “noisy”, “exploit stereotypical characters” and have “no real story”.



The pressures of scheduling children’s shows all day, she added, meant programme makes no longer “kept a sense of concern” about the small children who are watching.



Acknowledging the television had necessarily moved on to suit modern tastes, she added: “But it doesn’t mean parents should give up.”



Whitby, who launched programmes such as Play School, Jackanory and Catweazle, has worked on children’s programming at the BBC and ITV.



She is now making an animated ‘Mouse and Mole’ Christmas special for the BBC, featuring Alan Bennett, Richard Briers and Imelda Staunton, as well as preparing for speak to the British Film Institute about her career.

Hannah Furness Telegraph.co.uk

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