Over the last week my evening routine has been ruined by those inconsiderate people at CBeebies changing the second half of Bedtime Hour so gone are "Charlie & Lola" and "64 Zoo Lane" and instead we're confronted by the horror that is "In The Night Garden" (henceforth known as ITNG).
In case you're fortunate enough never to have seen ITNG some kind of description would be handy and where better to start than its own official website:
"In the Night Garden is best described as a modern televisual interpretation of a nursery rhyme picture book. It is about a magical place that exists between waking and sleeping in a child's imagination."
A magical place between waking and sleeping? Only if you're on crack it is. I've never seen such a bizarre collection of mind-torturing images since I inadvertantly saw the video Frank Zappa and Bickford put out for "Dupree's Paradise" late one dark night.
I struggle to come up with way of explaining just how painful I find ITNG but I'll try. Many years ago I had a broken tooth extracted at the London Hospital with the aid of a local anaesthetic and a valium and I have to say that it was one of the most surreal and unpleasant experiences of my life as floaty white-coated people with pliers tried to take things out of my face while all I could think to do was laugh and I start to have flashbacks of that type when I start to watch ITNG. I've never taken recreational mind-altering drugs, though some of you might think I ought to try, but watching ITNG is what I imagine a bad trip must be like and if you think the drug references are an exagerration I'll point you to The Guardian who described it as "The opium of the (little) people"... and that's from someone who LIKES it!
"At the end of every episode there is a recap, which is signposted by the Tittifers, brightly coloured birds who come together to form a harmony that acts as a signal for bedtime for all the characters."
Let me explain this. Just when I'm mentally screaming for it all to stop I'm confronted by hallucinogenically coloured birds introducing a recap of a story that I desperately don't want to remember, allegedgly for my benefit. They don't say that of course, they just tweet in an annoyingly repetitive manner in their hallucinogenic way and then just as they appeared for no apparent reason they disappear the same way. The floaty Derek Jacobi narration doesn't help matters as I've heard and seen Derek in a number of great productions as I hear his voice in ITNG I can almost picture him with a vacant stare of the insane induced by trying to understand what the whole things supposed to be about.
If you're not familiar with what I hesitate to call a 'cast' the main characters are Upsy Daisy, Igglepiggle, Makka Pakka, the three Tombliboos, not to mention the tiny Wottingers and Pontipines (did I forget anybody). In addition you have an airship called the Pinky Ponk and a train called the Ninky Nonk but trying explain this menagerie would take too long so I'll pick on the Tombliboos:
"There are three of these tumbly, pepper-pot toys – Unn, Ooo and Eee. They totter about as a group, rarely individually, and their trousers tend to fall down at unexpected times."
They'd be at home late night in Sutton or Croydon then wouldn't they!?!? If, for some strange reason, you find yourself in late night conversation with an officer of the law whilst you are in a state of some inebriation you might want to say:
"I am Eee. I am a Tombliboo and I always stagger around with my trousers round my knees".
I wouldn't recommend it as such, but it might give them a laugh, particularly if try and you stick to that story when you get down the station.
Now if you're thinking that these things aren't for adults so I shouldn't be judging the official web site does say
"The programme is consistently rich in music and rhyme, so that parents and caregivers can pick up on the fun and share it with their children"
Right. Sure they can.
Back to the Guardian for the final word:
"Some parents cry with frustration at their kids' devotion to it; others just weep along as their own most tender childhood dreams and memories are expertly pricked by its ingenious, half-submerged allusions and atmosphere."
I'll be in that first category then but the littler Brinksters love it of course. If you've never seen it do watch one episode.... your life may never be the same again...