BBC Children's Show Programming Criticised By Teletubbies Co-Creator, Anne Wood

BBC Accused Of 'Ghettoising Children's Shows'

Teletubbies co-creator, Anne Wood, has accused the BBC of "ghettoising children's programmes" by ending shows for young viewers on BBC1 and BBC2.

Children's programmes were dropped from flagship channel BBC1 after more than 60 years and moved to digital offerings CBBC and CBeebies as part of the corporation's cost-cutting measures.

Wood, who also co-produces hit show In The Night Garden, told the Radio Times: "On the one hand it is inevitable. But it is dismissive of children."

Wood was named the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman of the Year in 1998

She said: "There is a certain amount of overlooking of the fact that children's programmes do get a wider audience than people are aware of. Just as children's literature does.

"In my long career, I have frequently had letters from older people who have enjoyed my programmes as much as children do. A lot of the reason older people like to watch children's programming is because it is life-enhancing."

Wood told the magazine: "It ghettoises children's programmes. It is a completely different attitude to the one that scheduled Magic Roundabout before the 5.40pm news."

She added: "Children's shows have just become fodder, and as a practitioner, I feel very sad about that."

But Terry Deary, author of the Horrible Histories children's books, which have been adapted into TV shows, said the separation was "progress".

"It doesn't matter at all", he said. "The fact that children's shows have been on BBC1 since the war doesn't mean they should continue, and to hang on to them would be a very backward step."

He added: "Ghetto is a very emotive word, and implies the children's channels are inferior... Children's shows on the children's channels is perfectly logical."

Tracy Beaker author Jacqueline Wilson said the channels were a "dividing mechanism", adding: "Maybe children like the idea of having their own children's channel. But I come from an era when things like the Sunday afternoon serial was something for the whole family to sit round and enjoy.

"I suppose there's a need for different channels, since what we have now is huge variety... I think, on balance, the BBC ought to pat itself on the back."

Last week it was reported that a couple had become so fed-up of "brain-numbing" children's TV that they created their own channel.

Jezz Wright, 44, and Julianne Martin, 35, made a series of animated films based on two characters called Jack and Holly, which have since gone on to became an internet sensation.

White told the Daily Mail: "We were just fed up with all the unnecessary nonsense children's heads are filled with. We wanted to make something we felt happy about our son and daughter sitting down to watch.

"We're delighted with the success we have had. That was never the aim, so it has been a terrific bonus."

Wood has been outspoken on children's issues in the past. In 2011 she accused toddler toy manufacturers of "making money from parents anxieties".

Discussing the Baby Einstein range of educational toys on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs, she said: "I don't like the name Baby Einstein.

"The idea that there is only one way for a child to be intellectually developed is anathema to me so I hate that, and I think that it is again making money out of people's anxieties, which is a shame."

Wood aslo set up the Ragdoll Foundation, a charity dedicated to "developing the power of imaginative responses in children through the arts".

The foundation provides grants to varying national and international projects, helping children from Newcastle housing estates to post-tsunami Sri Lanka.

She said: "All the activities we support involve a story that's worth telling. There are many, many good intentions, but without that fundamental, central element you'll fail to lift children's imaginations into another place.

"The important thing is to give children the freedom to be creative, while creating the right structure within which they can find ways to express their needs, concerns and feelings.

"The trouble is that children's creativity has become a bit of a cliche these days, and too many people have a fixed idea of what it should be. They expect children to measure up to their own expectations."

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