The state of children’s television is once again in the spot light as Floella Benjamin warns of a “crisis”.
The state of children’s television is once again in the spot light as Floella Benjamin warns of a “crisis”. Benjamin’s comments were made during a debate in the House of Lords where is she a Liberal Democrat peer. Floella Benjamin was a presenter on BBC’s Play School and has actively been involved with Children’s television for many years. More recently she has appeared in several episodes of The Sarah Jane Adventures. Lady Benjamin argued that television shows should not become a form of “surrogate parenting” and that programmes should engage children and not be “passive viewing”.
“Appropriate children’s television is beneficial to childhood development. It can improve attention, expressive language, comprehension, articulation, general knowledge as well as social interaction and life skills. So I urge the government and broadcasters to wake up to the crisis in the production and quality of public service broadcasting for children. I ask the government to find creative ways of funding to maintain the traditional well-made British pre-school programmes which contain all the necessary and essential elements required for our children’s well-being.” – Floella Benjamin in the House of Lords
The debate over children’s television has been raging for several years now especially given the demise of dramas such as Grange Hill and Byker Grove on the BBC. The two dramas tackled a wide range of social issues, raised awareness of issues and featured disabled characters prominently within the cast – leading the way in many cases and shaming prime-time dramas. Byker Grove and Grange Hill were both victims of the BBC’s drive to focuses on younger viewers, instead of teen audiences, and the corporation was accused of “dumbing down” its content. The heavy reliance on imports has also been criticised. However, small steps are being taken to pump funding into children’s television and programmes such as The Sarah Jane Adventures gives hope for the future.