Our writers are (lovingly) foisting pop-culture favourites on their unsuspecting nippers. Here, Jane Bostock introduces her four-year-old to a little bit of ’70s TV.
I always thought it was a lazy (but moderately funny) presumption that all kids shows made around a certain time must have been created by people who were high on drugs, The Magic Roundabout being the most notable example.
Having fond memories of Jamie and the Magic Torch, I decided to see how my four-year-old would take to it. At a similar age, I liked anything with a magical quality. Like Mr Ben, its premise involved a portal to new and exciting dimensions and like Mr Ben, it was slightly creepy. What’s not to like?
Jamie – who, watching it back now, is a blatant Peanuts character rip off with the hair of Cilla Black – is wished goodnight by his mum silhouetted by the hallway light in the bedroom doorway. The door closes, a Dulux dog wearing a weird hat appears out of nowhere, Jamie shines his torch on the ground which transforms into a psychedelic sinkhole and off they go down the swirling slide of neon to a place called Cuckoo Land.
A mock rock voice sings the title: “Jamie! Jamie! Jamie and the magic torch. If I hadn’t really been there I’d think that I was dreaming.” To which, the arsehole me would reply: “How do you know you’re not dreaming? You were in bed about to go to sleep; it’s entirely plausible this is one lurid dreamscape.”
The inhabitants of Cuckoo Land look like the stuff of nightmares, not a dream. A facially hairless Super Mario first draft; a green, stoned cat with a spade; a rabbit with cankles wearing spats and a top hat; A.L.F; a rag doll, and a Keystone Cop on a unicycle who eats his own truncheon. And no, that’s not a euphemism.
I can’t even start to explain how trippy this is; stylistically it’s reminiscent of the Beatles Yellow Submarine, which I found terrifying. Characters appear out of nowhere and the illustrators must have been so out of their mind on whale tranquilisers that they never bothered to make any of the characters’ mouths move, which adds the additional dimension that everyone communicates through thought alone. I am glad I’d not eaten strong cheese prior to this viewing.
The “story” centred on everyone worried about a ghost but, quite frankly, that was the least scariest proposition in the whole episode. In the end, it was only the frigging cankled rabbit with a sheet over its head. Dickhead!
My son looked genuinely concerned for my sanity and sat motionless and silent throughout the whole of this. Tentatively, with pleading eyes, I asked him what he thought.
I swear, I have never had such a patronising response from a four-year-old. Ever. He gently touched my shoulder and said, “It was a really nice story Mummy.” Like I had made it myself and needed placating.
I felt like a teenager who had just shared their precious mix tape to an unappreciative audience. I think we’ll stick to Adventure Time.
A human, like you.