Demographically speaking, childhood now ends at around the age of nine. The transference of what were once called children’s shows into teen dramas is complete. The BBC has long wanted to ditch that peculiar band of little people’s entertainment, and with good reason. Every few years there’s a demographic shuffle, and the closure of ‘children’s hour’ programming has long been considered. They’ll keep shows for tinies, but the rest is being lumped into what I would call Twentertainment.
Twentertainment applies to everything from Sherlock to Game of Thrones. Some of it’s shocking – but so what? Children are spectacularly, imaginatively, disgustingly rude, and they’ve got much better at it since the arrival of the internet. Kids of my generation were stuck with ‘Watch With Mother’ (Jane Horrocks’ parody of ‘Picture Book’, below, is a masterclass of mimicry, even duplicating that strange stare she used to give the viewers while waiting for them to answer.) My teen years were a time of quiet learning until I found my voice and first opinions at around 20.
While we’re better off without patronising tat for tots, it’s interesting that much TV drama draws in twentysomethings who’ll watch endless shows about ghosts and vampires, extending childish tastes later into life. In some countries where the young are forced by shrinking economies into living at home, this isn’t perhaps so surprising, but it must surely arrest development. As for the rest of the world, many teens are already hard at work, helping to support their parents.
TV viewing figures have not significantly altered overall, which surprises me (most of my viewing is via DVD or online – I can’t remember the last time I watched TV ‘live’. A quick check among my friends revealed that around half of them use very few internet services at home, and many play video games into their 30s.
This leaves me with a problem. It’s very hard to sell anything to the networks because execs no longer know what might appeal to whom. And if you occasionally work in genre fiction, as I do, you’ll find that it is still being hijacked into ‘shipping’ supernatural soaps. You’ll see what I’ve done within this area later this year when ‘Nyctophobia’ comes out.
Meanwhile, here’s Horrocks and a reminder that a simpler world might not have been a better world.