Sunday, May 29, 2011

Something for the Kids: Lynn Whitaker

Lynn Whitaker is an academic researcher of children's media culture, who has just spent three years researching with BBC Scotland's Children's Department. She taught English and Drama for 10 years. (And lots of other genuine experience which means she is worth listening to - I tend to be very critical of academia especially when it comes to social matters [because most of it is utter bollocks] but she passes the test.)

What I write here is not a transcription, it is my interpretation based on my hit-and-miss notes. So it may not accurately reflect what Lynn said, or what she meant to imply. It's my interpretation of what she said.

Lynn initially described what it's like at BBC Scotland's Children's Department - the fact the staff is generally younger than elsewhere; that they have outings and do things that kids might do; run drama workshops with kids not just for the casting process but also as research and to keep them in touch with their audience.

Because Kid's TV is the one area where those that make the content cannot be the audience.

And this is vitally important to understand. If you're producing content for kids you have to know kids.

But not all in the garden is rosy. Management has a tendency to frustrate the producers (when Lynn says "producers" she means anyone involved in the production of content - including writers). And compliance restrictions cause confusion.

The classic anecdote was the talking sprout in one show: they were not allowed to show the sprout getting speared by a fork and eaten. But they could show it being scooped up and eaten. Just no spearing.

Her view of the production seemed slightly at odds with Garry's rose-tinted version, she sees CBBC as being risk-averse.

For writers she sees the comedy short-form content being the best way in, and perhaps the best content because kids like to laugh.

Kids are "differently" discriminatory. We may despise High School Musical, but a child may love it and love the Chuckle Brothers just as much. It's not for us to judge - we are merely adults with fixed ideas and we tend to laugh a tenth as much as a child on a daily basis.

To be continued...

What's on the turntable? "Round and round" by David Bowie from "Sound and Vision"

No comments: