Written by Dotty Winters


TV clangers

True, your kids may be learning all sorts of educational lessons from telly, but allow Dotty Winters to look a little closer at some of the other things they’re picking up.

Steve Backshall with a rattlesnake. Photo: BBC.

Yeah, definitely try this one at home: Steve Backshall with a rattlesnake. Photo: BBC.

Like many people, I don’t pay that much attention to children’s TV. It provides a vital service, holding your precious little one’s attention for a few moments so you can have a poo/wipe your face/run a major corporation.

Looking at the bright colours, perky presenters and curriculum-themed singalongs, it’s easy to see how a bit of kids’ TV could contribute to a child’s education. Make no mistake, your kids are learning, but look a little closer and you’ll quickly realise that children’s TV is teaching them some truly horrific life lessons.

Thomas the Tank Engine

Your only worth is as an employee. Whatever you do, make sure you are being useful at all times and try not to think about the endless gloom of working for the man. Your only joy should be derived from fat-shaming your corporate overlords and being racist about electric engines.

The Tweenies

If you eat all your vegetables, and get bitten by a radioactive spider, you can grow to near adult size while still a pre-schooler. Your adult carers will quickly realise that they are defeated and let you do whatever the fuck you want all day, even if what you want to do is sing really annoying songs on repeat.


If you are relentlessly cheerful and occasionally solve crime, people will eventually disregard your racist past.

Peppa Pig

Daddies are idiots, mummies are tyrants in endless pursuit of joy to steal. Most of the work will be done by one childless woman, because all the mummies are dealing with all the bastard daddies. Jumping in muddy puddles will result in adults laughing along, not dragging you back into the house while muttering darkly about the price of Persil.

“See that poisonous/venomous/vicious fatal-looking thing over there? Give it a prod, see what happens.”

Get Well Soon

Be a doctor, kids. It’ll take you years and you’ll be massively underappreciated and stressed out. One day it’ll get so bad that you’ll meet a kid whose actual name is Jobby and you won’t even smile.

Power Rangers

If you insist on wearing head to toe Lycra on a daily basis your parents will eventually disown you, leaving you free to hang out in a burger bar/lair kicking the shit out of alien-baddies and robots.

The Little Princess

It’s hard to deny that the central lesson of The Little Princess is undoubtedly fact based. If your parents and carers are aristocratic loons and leave you largely unsupervised you will develop attention-seeking and entitled behaviours and be abnormally delayed in your toilet training. You will probably end up in Government, or on Love Island.

Image: The Foundation TV Productions Ltd/Decode/Blue Entertainment.

Image: The Foundation TV Productions Ltd/Decode/Blue Entertainment.


Just say no to drugs, kids.

Postman Pat

With sufficient creativity and a completely unjustifiable helicopter, incompetence can be elevated to an art form.


It’s OK to ‘do that voice’ and employ racial stereotypes, as long as you start every explanation with “I’m not racist but…”, a strategy which will always make a bad ting good.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

If you flush pets down the loo they will survive and fight crime.

Mr Bloom

All food is sentient, even the veggies. If you eat ever again you are a horrid murderous bastard. Don’t look at the sentient food; concentrate on the fake accent and suspiciously luscious hair.

Steve Backshall’s Deadly 60

See that poisonous/venomous/vicious fatal-looking thing over there? Give it a prod, see what happens.

Grandpa in my Pocket

Don’t trust old people. They might steal your toys, get you into scrapes or vote the wrong way in a referendum.

Fireman Sam

The strategic move from fire-fighting into fire prevention has been largely successful, other than in one small town in rural Wales, where Norman is still struggling with the basics. Elsewhere, remote, rural fire services are under threat from austerity measures, but Norman’s one-man campaign of antisocial idiocy has saved the Pontypandy force from cuts. No one is grateful.


Useful education if you’re planning to open a lunar-based soup kitchen. Photo: BBC.

Before you despair, it’s not all bad news. There are still some highly educational children’s programmes out there. I can heartily recommend:

Horrid Henry, for lessons on radical subversive protest
Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom, for an education on jelly-based warfare and passive aggression
The Clangers, for everything you need to know about how insignificant you are in the universe, and bondage gear.


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Written by Dotty Winters

Nascent stand-up, fan of fancy words, purveyor of occasional wrongness, haphazard but enthusiastic parent, science-fan, apprentice-feminist.