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Worries over TV show's forward roll

The author behind hit children's TV show Charlie And Lola has revealed how her character caused anxiety at the BBC - with a forward roll.

Lauren Child has sold millions of copies of her books about Charlie and his younger sister Lola, and the stories have been adapted for the small screen.

But the illustrator and writer told Radio Times magazine that when it came to making the animated TV series, the corporation was concerned about the potential for injury when Lola performed a forward roll.

"We almost had a problem with Lola doing forward rolls," she told the magazine. "The BBC got terribly worried she could have a dreadful accident and break her neck.

"It doesn't matter that she and Charlie are fictional, and they're made of paper. The designers had to draw a very squishy mattress for her to do her forward roll on."

Child's comments came as the magazine compiled a shortlist of the best BBC children's characters though the decades, featuring the likes of Sooty and Sweep from the 1950s, and shows such as The Magic Roundabout from the 1960s, Paddington Bear in the 1970s, Willo The Wisp in the 1980s and more recently, Teletubbies and In The Night Garden.

She also said that an episode she proposed in which Lola caught head-lice was rejected by the Disney corporation, which had partially financed the show.

Richard Starzak, who devised the much-loved Shaun The Sheep, a spin-off from Wallace And Gromit, told the magazine that children's TV had become too safe.

"Slapstick is a universal language," he said. "There's a lot of comedy in other people's pain, of course. But there are things you can't do on children's shows. We can't really have characters being hit on the head. I understand why. We don't want to be responsible for kids hitting each other with frying pans.

"But I sometimes think children's TV can be overly safe. I don't think cartoon-style violence affects kids. I think it's a bit of escapism," he said.

He said of watching ITV's Tiswas during his own childhood: "They used to lift children out of tea chests by their ears. Then, one Saturday, one of the kids cut himself on the edge of the chest, and was bleeding on live TV.

"Chris Tarrant lifted him out, put him to one side and said: 'Could you pass me another one that's not bleeding?' And they carried on with the show. Can you imagine the front pages of the newspapers if that happened today?"

Meanwhile Keith Chapman - whose show Bob The Builder has raked in millions of pounds from TV sales and merchandising around the world and also features on the list - said that the series was nearly called Bill The Builder or Bob The Construction Worker.

He said: "It was a toss-up between Bill The Builder and Bob The Builder. But Bill didn't sound quite right."

Chapman said that he was advised that the term "builder" is not often used in the US, "but, thankfully, in the end they let us keep the name".

Anne Wood, co-creator of the Teletubbies, told of her horror when US evangelist Jerry Falwell denounced one of the show's characters - Tinky Winky - who is purple and carries a handbag, for "role modelling the gay lifestyle".

"It was so insulting," she told the magazine. "The fact is that children's television is about love, it's got nothing to do with sex at all. And all children - boys and girls - love to look in your handbag. I haven't known a child who didn't."

:: Shortlist of the top children's characters chosen by Radio Times and the BFI and now open to public vote:

:: 1950s

Muffin The Mule 1946-52

Andy Pandy 1950

Bill And Ben 1952

Sooty And Sweep 1955

The Woodentops 1955

Captain Pugwash 1957

Pinky And Perky 1957

Noggin The Nog 1959

:: 1960s

Basil Brush 1962

Humpty 1964

The Pogles 1965

The Magic Roundabout 1965

Camberwick Green 1966, Trumpton 1967, Chigley 1969

The Herbs 1968

Clangers 1969

Hector's House 1960s

:: 1970s

Mr Benn 1971

The Wombles 1973

Roobarb And Custard 1974

Ivor The Engine 1975

Paddington Bear 1975

Emu 1975

Morph 1977

:: 1980s

Postman Pat 1981

Willo The Wisp 1981

Gordon The Gopher 1985

Pingu 1986

Spot The Dog 1986

Fireman Sam 1987

Edd The Duck 1988

Bodger & Badger 1989

:: 1990s

Brum 1991

Noddy 1992

Otis The Aardvark 1994

Dennis The Menace And Gnasher 1996

Teletubbies 1997

Bob The Builder 1998

Tweenies 1999

:: 2000s

Charlie And Lola 2005

Shaun The Sheep 2007

Oucho 2007

In The Night Garden 2007

Hacker T Dog/Dodge T Dog 2009

Octonauts 2010

Abney And Teal 2011

Rastamouse 2011

Tree Fu Tom 2012

Sarah And Duck 2013

Strange Hill High 2013


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