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David George
David George
7 months ago

So true. You’ve a real talent, Mary, for seeing and saying and clarifying what many of us suspected.

John Bruce
John Bruce
7 months ago

My generation were subjected to two useful idiots, aka Bill and Ben, being manipulated by a pernicious, psychopathic Weed into performing minor acts of vandalism, then denying their involvement. It was our introduction to Machiavellian philosophy and stood us in good stead.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
7 months ago
Reply to  John Bruce

I honestly read that as Mancunian philosophy initially. And on reflection, it probably fits better.

Al M
Al M
7 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

So did I. Well, Mark E Smith always had an opinion.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
7 months ago
Reply to  John Bruce

Hahaha, that’s one way of looking at it!

Dustin Needle
Dustin Needle
7 months ago
Reply to  John Bruce

We also grew up with Clangers, Oliver Postgate and the wonderful accompaniments of Vernon Elliott. The sound of a bassoon still takes me back 50 odd years. What a time to be young.

David Bullard
David Bullard
7 months ago
Reply to  Dustin Needle

I still worry about the sinister subliminal messages sent out by The Woodentops though and wonder whether it ruined my chances of becoming governor of the Bank of England.

Jonathan Weil
Jonathan Weil
7 months ago
Reply to  Dustin Needle

Last weekend I watched my daughter (1) and mother-In-law (81) clapping and bopping joyfully to those very Clangers of which you speak. Thank God for reruns.

Al M
Al M
7 months ago
Reply to  John Bruce

Being an older Gen-Xer, and spending my nightclubbing years pre-Tellytubbies, Bacchanalian evenings often concluded with watching the Open University broadcasts and a game of frisbee in the park. I suppose that some of it sunk in and we got fresh air and exercise. The Tellytubbies indeed marked the beginning of Blair’s infantilisation of Britain and the further decline of the family.

Last edited 7 months ago by Al M
Lennon Ó Náraigh
Lennon Ó Náraigh
7 months ago

Great article. But I must query this:

There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that full-time nursery care has no impact on academic performance

There is some high-quality very recent evidence that shows that state-wide pre-school programmes actually make academic performance, school attendnace, disciplinary infractions, etc. worse. This is a large-scale randomized control trial, the most rigorous kind of social science that can be done. (Durkin, K., Lipsey, M. W., Farran, D. C., & Wiesen, S. E. (2022). Effects of a statewide pre-kindergarten program on children’s achievement and behavior through sixth grade. Developmental Psychology, 58(3), 470–484.)
Similar results were found with Quebec’s pre-school programme.
These results go agaisnt mainstream expectations and beliefs – surely something for Unherd to pick up on?

Rick Lawrence
Rick Lawrence
7 months ago

I believe the “no impact” is a typo since the linked reference supports what you are saying

miss pink
miss pink
7 months ago

I’m a teacher (not in the UK). Off the record, primary teachers and principals say that many children now are simply not ready for school. Most attend some kind of day care and as stated in the article, it is totally ‘child centred’. What this means is that they can wander around and pretty much do what they like. Due to the lack of structure, when they start school many children can’t sit still or follow instructions. Some believe (as they have been taught) that they can do what they like and tell their teachers to get f***ed when they are asked to co-operate. Another issue is the increasing number of children starting schooling who are not toilet trained.

Last edited 7 months ago by miss pink
Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
7 months ago
Reply to  miss pink

Children are starting school in the UK also who are not toilet trained.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
7 months ago

As a fellow geriatric millennial, I can say there is hardly a day that goes by when I don’t feel thankful that my childhood was spent with Bagpuss, Blue Peter (in the Yvonne Fielding, Mark Curry, Caron Keating era), Byker Grove and Grange Hill. No smartphones, internet or social media and we were encouraged to make designs for new roof bosses for York Minster after the fire and send them in by post instead of hanging in front of a screen.
My one and only run-in with the Teletubbies was one morning during my studies in the early 2000s. I was all keyed up, ready to go and sit a property law exam and was looking for something to calm my nerves. 5 minutes of this brainless TV goop and I’d had enough – it stressed me out more than the thought of the exam.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
7 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

That was it. I grew up in Yorkshire and know the Minster well so the act of doing my design (aged 4) and sending it in with the hope of it being included in the great building was really exciting. I didn’t win, but I still love to look up at those bosses whenever I go into the Minster.

Michael K
Michael K
7 months ago

I always found the Teletubbies funny, but exceptionally weird. It’s incredible the parallels that Mary points out with modern life. It makes me think whether that series possibly marks the beginning of an intentional trend. Where better to grow the Transhumanism movement than with children who have no filters in their consciousness?

Paul Sorrenti
Paul Sorrenti
7 months ago

In the latest CBBC phenomenon ‘Bing’ there once again are no parents, but there are informed care-givers that the creators have designed to be half the size of Bing and his friends. A reluctant acknowledgement, perhaps, that adult wisdom is required and desired, whilst simultaneously keeping them safe in the knowledge that at any moment they could pick up the adult and throw them into the sea
Unlike the Teletubbies, things occasionally go wrong, but never more than the sadness of a popped balloon or a scratched knee, which the care-giver can easily fix. My daughter was fascinated by this show, until I began reading her fables with lying boys, vengeful wolves, innocent young girls and varying intellectual degrees of pig, all of whom put their lives or livelihoods in danger. Now she’s like ‘daddy, let the Corbynistas raise their brood on this sappy rabbit nonsense – I want it REAL’

Philip Stott
Philip Stott
7 months ago

The Magic Roundabout was my favourite trippy kids show, both as an actual kid and as an after rave “adult”.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
7 months ago

I have no telly, but am about a stone overweight.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
7 months ago

That was very interesting.

I’m curious about Mary’s statistic about the proportion of mothers returning to work within a year. I have a sense that as far as possible one parent should be at home with infant children. I offer no evidence, just a feeling.

I wonder why both parents need to work. It seems odd that I grew up with only one parent earning a less than average salary and yet materially we had everything we needed. Okay, it was a bit cold in the winter, my mother had a day’s work with washing clothes in a twin tub and my father spending weekends repairing chappy second hand cars.

I live on quite a high income now; far more than my father earned. I’m quite content but I don’t feel materially better off. Well, it wouldn’t be difficult to do without the extras.

We have friends on low income with the good luck to have inherited a home. They are very frugal but seem to me to live materially well.

I’m sorry to ramble, I know money doesn’t buy you happiness but I’m not convinced it makes you especially materially better off (compared to the 70s). So, why do families need to earn so much?

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
7 months ago

Much entertainment these days is aimed at the young and the imbecilic. When you stop watching it, you realize how much of it is geared toward conditioning people to be accepting of distasteful ideas and lifestyles.

Peter LR
Peter LR
7 months ago

Perhaps in recognition of the outcomes for the Blair generation, they should create a new Teletubbie in a white costume called Woko!

Geoffrey Simon Hicking
Geoffrey Simon Hicking
7 months ago

All my friends are hard working [married] parents that do the best for their children. The only juvenile idiot I know is me.

I never watched teletubbies. Thought it idiotic.

Jason Highley
Jason Highley
7 months ago

As a geriatric millenial who was horrified by Teletubbies the moment I first saw them as a child, I was doubly horrified to learn in this report that they are still on the air. Not all of us gave up on adulting though. I haven’t had cable television in 10 years, I don’t participate in any social media apart from the occassional Telegram and Gab, and I don’t subscribe to a single streaming service. My life is way better off for it.

Last edited 7 months ago by Jason Highley
Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
7 months ago

Recommended “THX 1138” (1971) in the context of the subjects adjacent to this piece, an odd early Lucas/Coppola largely unknown classic.

Caroline Watson
Caroline Watson
7 months ago

Strange isn’t it, that female journalists who can work from home whenever they like, and combine it with childcare, feel that they have a right to criticise other women who have no choice but to go out to work; as nurses, teachers, shop assistants and carers, to keep roofs over their children’s heads and food in their bellies?
The Teletubby young, with their blue hair and fantasies about changing sex and living without ‘fossil fuels’ remind me of HG Wells’s Eloi – and we know what happened to them!

Madeleine Jones
Madeleine Jones
7 months ago

Hello my fellow teletubbies.

Francisco Menezes
Francisco Menezes
7 months ago

Book of Revelations, Chapter 13, verses 16 and 17. The sign in the right hand is the i-phone. The mark on the forehead is a chip. Transactions only via CBDC. John of Padmos must have had a crystal ball.

Last edited 7 months ago by Francisco Menezes
David Lewis
David Lewis
7 months ago

What about The Magic Roundabout?

Steve Boyd
Steve Boyd
7 months ago

Has anyone seen the latest Teletubbies reboot? They have CG Teletubbie babies! What does it mean??

Jeffrey Chongsathien
Jeffrey Chongsathien
7 months ago

I expect this to be the first of series, covering Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors, Thundercats, He-Man, She-Ra, Dungeons and Dragons, Gummie Bears, Bucky O’Hare, M.A.S.K….

Lorenzo Gallego Borghini
Lorenzo Gallego Borghini
7 months ago

This article is genius! I’ve laughed out loud (though should I cry really?)
Thank you!

Neven Curlin
Neven Curlin
7 months ago

This is such good and pleasant reading! I’m of the same generation as the author, and found the Teletubbies baffling and eery, but even more so in hindsight, reading this excellent and insightful article. Thanks yet again.

Terence Fitch
Terence Fitch
7 months ago

Little kids liked it and their parents got a break. Artsy students who didn’t do labs sessions and so had plenty of daytime telly time on their hands watched it. They ‘grew up’ to write overblown theoretical pieces about it.

Al M
Al M
7 months ago
Reply to  Terence Fitch

Don’t know why that got a downvote. My own experience of university was having a 9 – 5 schedule of lectures, labs and tutorials, with Wed afternoons reserved for sport. My artsy female flatmates reading English lit and art history spent their days in bed or smoking fags in front of the telly. They could barely remember which afternoon they were supposed to go in.

Last edited 7 months ago by Al M
Neil MacInnes
Neil MacInnes
7 months ago

I guess as a boomer I should think myself lucky that when I pulled a pharmacologically enhanced all-nighter there was no early morning television to drag me into another generation’s childhood.
This must be the greatest amount of over intellectualised bullshit I have had the misfortune to read since, well, maybe ever.
There is no doubt Mary possess a superior intellect. Only clever people can over intellectualise to this extent.
Sometimes it pays to be just a poor little average soul.