There's a new cult kiddy show on the block - Rastamouse. Students, parents, and even the programme's target audience - children - are split between bewilderment and addiction.
Adapted from the Rastamouse series of children's booked written by Genevieve Webster and Michael De Souza, the series stars Rastamouse (voiced by Radio 1 DJ Reggia Yates) who wears a traditional Rastafarian 'crown' hat, and his side-kicks Scratchy and Zoomer.
Together the trio fight crime and play in a reggae band called Rastamouse and Da Easy Crew. Others characters include President Wensley Dale, a chef named Bandulu who is missing a bite-sized chunk from his ear, and Bagga-T, a hip-hop-loving mouse who runs an orphanage for young mice.
So what do parents think of the latest TV offering for little ears and eyes? I asked around but mum of one Tamsin MacKay had never heard of it. "Rastamouse? What on EARTH is it? Sounds illegal," she muttered.
"I'm well out of the loop," agreed mum of two Jill Gill, who has also yet to meet Rastamouse.
Just when I thought I must have hallucinated the whole thing, dad of one Dorian Spackman said: "My son watched it and said 'That's wicked!' before belching loudly."
"It's brilliant;totally daft," insists dad Andrew Webb.
Rastamouse has even been the subject of The Guardian's Pass notes: 'Twitter has taken it to its heart and people are claiming that it is the most subversive thing on children's television since The Magic Roundabout.' Befoer wearily explaining that the word 'cheese' could be interpreted as a code for marijuana.
Critics say Rastamouse reinforces cultural stereotypes but I can't really agree. Yes, Rastamouse sings reggae and speaks with a Caribbean accent but he's also a mouse who likes cheese - and I don't hear anyone complaining that the show is a dire case of stereotyping against mice.
Other parents think Rastamouse is a brilliant effort to introduce the idea of ethnic diversity to little minds - but frankly that goes over the heads of my boys, who at 4 and 6 years old are still too young and innocent to have developed the kind of prejudicial outlook that warrants programmes about diversity aimed at kids.
Remember, Rastamouse is children's TV and personally I don't think it should be taken too seriously. Each episode has a decent moral storyline but most of all it entertains kids and makes adults laugh too.
Father of four, Richard Taylor, agrees. "It's pitched at the perfect level for a kids' show, if occasionally cringe-worthy as an adult viewer. It's fun, includes music - real music, not electronically generated noise - covers good ethics - crime is bad, fighting crime is good - and is many times better than some other programmes like Tellytubbies."
Richard thinks it's worth remembering most adults just won't engage with Rastamouse in the same was as the children it is aimed at. "Look back at the old-style crime-fighting programmes like SuperTed and Bananaman. They were great fun to watch as kids but watch them now and they seem cringe-worthy for adults." Maybe that's the hallmark of TV that kids enjoy?
But new mum Kirsty McDougall is enjoying it: "It makes me laugh. The Jamacan patois is no worse than the backwards language on Waybaloo or the ramblings of the Tellytubbies. In fact it's better as it's representative of a real culture and is actually spoken unlike the made up languages you often hear on children's television. Besides, does children's TV always have to be educational?"
I'm inclined to agree. And as Rastamouse himself might say on the subject, "Nah stress yer-sell about it, man!"
For Rastamouse pictures for your children to colour in, click here to print out.
Nostalgic cartoon characters: Watch DangerMouse and Top Cat all over again
Do you like Rastamouse? And what about your kids?
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