Say "Eh-oh!" to the new Teletubbies
The Teletubbies have returned! Now, if you’re horrendously young, this turn of events will make you remember being in dungarees and drooling into your lap with childish glee. If you’re a bit older, it’ll make you remember being in student rags and drooling into your lap with hungover, post-clubbing despair.
Either way, there’s serious nostalgia afoot. Plus, this time round we’ve got Jim Broadbent – yes, Jim actual Broadbent – doing the "Time for Teletubbies" bit, and Jane Horrocks playing a mobile phone. And the Teletubbies now have touchscreens on their bellies, because it’s not 1998 anymore, granddad.
But which other iconic children’s shows from the olden days should get a big new reboot? Glad you asked…
Want your kids to watch the original instead? Or do you want to relive the brightly-coloured nostalgia yourself? We have all five original Teletubbies series available on demand.
Think “Button Moon” and you may remember the big yellow moon itself, hanging in “blanket sky”. And the Heinz rocket ship. And the theme tune (sung by Fifth Doctor Who Peter Davison, don’t you know). But the other thing that made the show so great was its genuinely other-worldly atmosphere, with all the action taking place against a permanently dark, starry backdrop.
A remake should run with this, taking us on a sumptuous CGI voyage through the cosmos, its inky blackness punctuated only by swirling hallucinatory imagery. Basically like 2001: A Space Odyssey, only with Mr Spoon waggling his arms instead of a psychotic computer killing everyone.
“As if by magic, the shopkeeper appeared.” Miraculous stuff in Mr Benn, but these days the real miracle would be finding an independent shop lovingly run by one shopkeeper. The Internet is now killing the high street, so the rebooted Mr Benn has to embrace this socio-economic tragedy with gusto.
Instead of showing our hero strolling over to the costume shop, each episode would begin with Mr Benn slobbing on a sofa in stained t-shirt and tracksuit trousers, tapping on his tablet. Cue the rebooted catchphrase: “As if by magic, the Amazon package appeared, courtesy of a terrifying drone.” Maybe the drone could wear a tiny little fez, to please the purists.
In its heyday, Grange Hill was famed for its controversial storylines. We don’t just mean glue-sniffing (which, if memory serves, was something all grown-ups were convinced all kids constantly did in the early 90s). No, Grange Hill dealt with far worse, not to mention the weaponisation of sausages propelled through the air on forks.
So with the original series already being grittier than a tarmac sandwich, a reboot has to up the ante even more. It would have to feature vicious gangs and sudden stabbings, as well as parallel storylines about corrupt school governors, striking teachers and duplicitous parents. In short, it would have to be a school-based version of The Wire. With a special guest appearance by Todd Carty.
Let’s consider the iconic lyrics: “Fun House, it’s a whole lotta fun, prizes to be won.” We can all agree the first half is accurate: Fun House is indeed a whole lotta fun. But “prizes to be won”? Technically maybe, but have you watched an old episode on Challenge recently? The so-called “prizes” they picked up in the final Fun House dash were terrible. They were pencil cases and trousers and felt tip pen collections and camping flasks and stuff.
OK, there was also an occasional Casio keyboard or skateboard, but on the whole those kids were dashing around for the crummiest prizes this side of Bullseye. The new version should have PlayStations and iPads strewn around the place, and the Fun House itself should be a giant hissing steampunk chaos engine of giant cogs, warped mirrors and big zapping lightning bolts. Presenter? Pat Sharp of course. Some things you don’t tamper with.
The Demon Headmaster
You remember this one: the show where former home secretary Jack Straw stalked around a school hypnotising pupils and trying to create a kind of supernatural tyranny. We propose the reboot take a bold new direction. By which we mean: the Demon Headmaster should now be the hero.
This makes total sense in 2015: an era when school staff have basically lost all authority and your average Double Maths class is a near-violent battle of wills between bolshy brats and their haplessly cowering teacher. Now imagine the Demon Headmaster striding in to put these precious little darlings in their place. You’d fist-pump, wouldn’t you? Of course you would. Because he’s the hero.
Back before he became the god of geeks with Sherlock and Doctor Who, Steven Moffat gave us the most aspirational kids’ show ever. Press Gang, in which Dexter Fletcher and Julia Sawalha made working on a school newspaper look as awesome as Woodward and Bernstein taking down Richard Nixon in All The President’s Men. There was banter. There was flirtation. There was the unbearable knowledge that your own school life could never, ever be so cool.
Fortunately, the new Press Gang would be a lot more reassuring, because none of the characters would ever meet. They’d just be in their bedrooms, writing angry blogs, getting into Twitter arguments, and sending the occasional email to check whether their latest article needed a trigger warning or not. Pro: all viewers would feel cooler by comparison. Con: it would be rubbish.
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