With the passing of Barry Chuckle, one half of the comedy duo ‘The Chuckle Brothers’ I have started to reflect on my experiences of children’s television and how it moulded moments in my life.
CBBC was for a long time my immediate connection to British Media and the wider world. The Chuckle brothers spent over 20 years working for this organisation.
As a first Generation Briton, I wasn’t as attuned to traditional British idiosyncrasies and norms such as the affinity with the royal family, fierce patriotism and an awkward sense of politeness.
Though I was never really interested in such practices, engaging in the idea of it was a pleasant pastime because it was like exploring a different reality.
Growing up in South London, surrounded by people of a variety of different ethnicities, I was hyper-aware that ‘British-ness’ came in a variety of formats which made watching the form presented on television an interesting way to spend my days.
‘Chuckle Vision’ (1987—2009), a show about the adventures of two brothers, which as I child I regularly watched, featured over the top slapstick comedy and catchphrases such as “To me, to you” which described the passing of items from one person to another in heavy duty fictional work.
Although I look back on shows such as this as a bit cringe, at the time it was exciting to see individuals on television that appealed to my childish, not fully developed nature, which is of course what television aimed at 6 to 12 year olds is supposed to do.
This surprisingly helped me form a sense of social cohesion among the people around me. The show ‘The Dumping Ground’ (2013- ), a spin-off of ‘The Story of Tracy Beaker’ (2002-2005), was a Drama which explored the lives of young children in care.
These shows probably meant so much to my friends and I because they expressed basic stressors of teenage life, including difficulties with family and friends and just the general feelings of uncertainty that haunt you every time you do something that you know will affect you in the future.
It really created ‘you had to be there moments’ as everyone dashed home from school on a Friday to make sure that they caught the newest episode. And if you hadn’t caught the episode by Monday, you were probably lost in conversation for the next couple of days.
My academia was some-what positively affected too. ‘Horrible Histories’ (2009-2013) was a sketch comedy show about historical events that affected Great Britain and other parts of the Western World.
Heavily inspired by British historical comedy classics, it caused me and my friends to engage in conversations about British history, which helped us later on down the line in our exams.
So although my current self would denounce the fact that I was even interested in what CBBC had to offer, I have to admit that in a weird way, I wouldn’t be where I am without it.