Nearly half a century since children were first introduced to the pink knitted extra-terrestrials, the Clangers are returning to TV tonight, to entertain a new generation.
Replacing the late Oliver Postgate as the narrator is Michael Palin, the ex-Python who says that he was “proud and pleased” to be involved.
But enough with the nostalgia – now it’s up to the kids to give the show the thumbs up or down. After all, they will be the ones to decide whether the 52-part series (and £5 million investment) really has been worth it – and they can be pretty harsh critics.
Ask any producer of children’s TV and they will tell you that they are the toughest audience to please. If a child doesn’t like a programme, they just walk away. So I got my own to watch the first episode. Like paid-up professionals with years of experience, they know what they like.
Daisy, my six-year-old, was a massive fan of CBeebies’ Show Me Show Me when she was smaller and graduated to shows like Abney and Teal. Nowadays she hovers between CBBC and CBeebies, enjoying the period drama Hetty Feather (for slightly older children) but remaining partial to the odd bit of Mister Maker (on CBeebies). She loves Tom & Jerry as well on Boomerang. (As do I.)
As for the three-year-old, well, Matilda will watch anything that Daisy watches but is a big fan of Disney films like Tinker Bell and recently loved Cartoon Network’s bold animation Over the Garden Wall. She loves the CBeebies’ bedtime story, especially when it’s read by Ben Bailey Smith or Tom Hollander, who are masters of their art.
But what did they make of Clangers episode one, a story about a windy day and musical notes that get lost in space?
“I like it,” said Daisy. “It is really strange and funny and I like the noises the pink people make. They are funny.
“It seems a bit old-fashioned but I like it. The best bit was when they were inside the cave. Also when the sky catches music. And I liked it that they never gave up trying to catch the music.”
That was good because, as she explained to me, “the sky never catches music”. (So now you know.)
Matilda agreed. “The funniest bit is when the mouses tweeted,” was her considered assessment. By “the mouses” she meant the Clangers.
But what of the man voicing it? What did they make of Palin?
“The man sounds like a nice man, but not a silly man nice, a nice man nice,” said Daisy.
Did you hear that Michael Palin? After your long and illustrious career these are the words that can stand as your epitaph. Yes, the Pythons were a bit silly, but you have left all that behind you. You are not longer a “silly man nice” but a “nice man nice”.
Oh yes, and most importantly, would they watch it again?
Both girls in unison: “Yes!”
Clangers begins Monday 15th June on CBeebies at 5.30pm