Otwo Attempts… Writing a children’s TV show

 
 

RTE are seeking new ideas for children’s TV shows and Conor Luke Barry thinks he’s got just what they’re looking for

If the saying ‘children are our future’ proves to be accurate then we can probably just give up on our chrome plated, hoverboard covered version of the future right now. Children are bizarre little creatures, waddling from one pointless activity to another. They’re incapable of handling the most meagre of tasks, such as driving a manual car or waiting in a bank queue without defecating. The idea that these are the people that will build our future is terrifying.

Of course, it’s not entirely children’s fault that they’re useless. Grown humans get very excited at the prospect of creating infants but presumably the novelty of the child-thing wears off quite swiftly, kind of like when everyone got Furbies for Christmas. All parents have grand notions that they’ll raise their child as an upstanding member of society who will eventually become emperor of the Universe, but teaching your child anything takes so much effort. It can be disheartening when it takes them 6 or 7 years to learn to tie their shoes. Eventually parents give up on teaching them about the world because, you know, it’s boring.

It’s then up to the old television box to pick up the educational slack and inform these kids about how the world really works. Unfortunately, TV is the worst role model imaginable. Television has become so gross and abrasive, if TV were a human being it would be a short sweaty man wearing a winter coat in June shouting at strangers about how they’re not cooking their homemade meals like a five star restaurant. Also, modern shows have questionable morals, such as the hit series Fat people should eat less or we’ll continue to laugh at them. So when I was informed that RTE was accepting submission for an array of new children’s television series, I knew I had to give these kids a fighting chance by making a show that teaches them right from wrong.

Reading the submission form, I was presented with a bunch of different categories. For instance, the form had one section saying there were looking for “five to ten episodes of a reality/lifestyle show for 11-15 year olds. RTÉ is looking for ob-doc or string reality programming designed to appeal to tweens and teens”. Never have there been so many terms I’ve failed to understand in such a short piece of writing. An ob-doc sounded like some sort of embarrassing routine check up, perhaps the doctor making sure that your tween is in working order. Eventually I opted for the 9-12 category, mainly because they were looking for “strong and engaging characters which feature on-screen regularly”. It was a chance to provide the kids with more suitable role models.

Having decided on the category, I locked myself away from any distractions for a full weekend, lest I stifle the torrent of creative juices that would no doubt erupt from my appropriate orifices. After 14 hours of staring at a page all I seemed to have written was ‘Children like animals, I think’. It was a strong starting point. All of my childhood television idols were either wise-crackin’ rabbits, jive-talkin’ hedgehogs or smack-talkin’ turtles, so my show definitely needed some sort of witty creature. Unfortunately, all the good animals have been taken by other shows, forcing me to wade through the dregs of the animal kingdom, sorting through slugs and mole rats.

Then it occurred to me, kids today aren’t the same as from when I was a youth. Modern day little ones are so hi-tech that they pretty much have laptops sewn into their stomachs like grotesque Teletubbies. They won’t be able to relate to a real life animal, at least one that isn’t playing a keyboard. I had to communicate on their level, which is how I came up the main character of a hip-hop wi-fi router named Jeremy, rapping advice he downloads from reliable sources on the internet. My show was finally taking shape.

I wrote long into the night, adding more hip technological words like firewall or malware almost at random. Most importantly, I had to get across a message. A lot of kids shows focus on dull morals like ‘your parents love you’ or ‘not all humans are terrible’. I wasn’t going to pander, there were going to be some hard truths in my show. Such as when Jeremy has to attend a rap contest in 1989 at the Fall of the Berlin wall, Jeremy delivering a highly informative rap about the political and social conditions that led to this event. To finish it off I shoved in a bunch of things that I knew would probably appeal to RTE, such as a car that only speaks Irish as well as including a scene where all the characters stop and reflect for the Angelus. My world-changing epic was complete.

As I watched the printer slowly churn out the sheets of my masterpiece I instantly knew how Joyce must have felt when he finished Ulysses or the feeling that Van Gogh chap probably got when he painted a flower or whatever. Having sent the proposal off to RTE studios it’s only a matter of time before they call me to organise the production schedule, as well as set up my various interviews with Time magazine. But when I’m incredibly famous and rich remember that I never got into it for the money; it was for the children. And a bit for the money.

 

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