Pitching the unpitchable

Do you ever look at something and think ‘how the fuck did anyone persuade anyone else that was a good idea?’

Like genital piercing, for instance. Some caveman mooching around his cave with a hammer and a nail thinks ‘I bet I can drive this through my cock’. And he does. Not only that, he somehow convinces other people to follow suit. Millions of years of evolution later and the same species who stood on the moon and watched the Earth rise are still hammering bits of metal into their balls. For fun.

Similarly, some TV shows defy explanation. Not their existence, I’m not complaining about quality, but they literally can’t be explained as a concept to anyone else.

Take ‘In The Night Garden …’ for example.

Have you seen it? If you haven’t got teeny kiddies then probably not, but I urge you to seek it out. On first viewing, you’ll wonder what the fuck is going on and why you’re watching this shit … but one day, after forced and repeated viewings, you’ll suddenly realise it’s a work of utter genius.

And completely unpitchable.

I mean, how did anyone walk into anyone else’s office and explain the show?

“Well, there’s this baby, right? And he, or sometimes she, is falling asleep while his or her parent strokes his or her hand and Derek Jacobi sings him or her a lullaby. Then there’s this boat with a puppet thing made out of blue towels who takes the sail down, only it’s not a sail, it’s a blanket and he puts a light up and goes to sleep. Then all the stars turn into flowers and bloom until the sky turns into a garden. Oh, then there’s this train thing, only it’s not a train it’s like a string of kids toys only one of them is like a flying saucer or something and another one is a detached house. And this train, right, this train thing – sometimes it’s knee high and sometimes it’s big enough to climb onboard. Oh yeah, and it can go up trees and upside down and stuff. So the blue towel thing who’s got a bell in his head or maybe his hand or maybe it’s a rattle and he falls over a lot, this blue towel thing has got a girlfriend who likes to dance and sing through a megaphone and if you pull a string on her waist then her skirt inflates and rises up so you can see her pants, only she hasn’t really got any on, and then she dances and sings. Did I mention her bed follows her around the garden? And there’s this other person/thing who’s slightly smaller than the others and likes to clean stones and blow his trumpet. Then there’s this hedge/house thing with three androgynous people in who fall over a lot and play the drums really, really badly and they’ve got this ‘no trousers’ rule in their house. Or hedge, depending on your point of view. Oh and there’s an airship which farts and changes size too. And these big pillows with eyes who float around and sigh in satisfaction. And blink. Sometimes they blink. And there’s these peg dolls. Ten of them. A daddy with a porn star moustache and a mummy with a pair of binoculars and eight kids and they all dance around their garden. Did I mention they live in a semi-detached house at the bottom of a tree? Oh, well they do. And they’ve got some next door neighbours called the Wottingers. They’re exactly the same, except they’re blue instead of red. And they all fart a little bit and play hide and seek and dance and go on picnics. Sometimes on the weird scale changing train/toy thing. Which is sentient. Did I mention the train thing is sentient? So’s the airship thing. And there’s these birds who sing a song. One of them makes a noise like a trombone.”

“I see. And do they have adventures with morals for the kids to learn?”

“No, not really. They just fuck about on the train a bit. Sometimes there’s a big ball which bounces around the garden. Did I mention it’s set in a garden? Sometimes they might get on the farting airship. Other times they don’t. That’s about it, really.”

To which, of course, the only sane reply is:

“Fuck me, that’s utter genius! Here’s enough money for a hundred episodes.”

A hundred!

One hundred.


A hundred fucking episodes of randomly getting on and off an inconsistently sized toy/train thing and polishing some stones.

A hundred.

How the fuck did that happen?

I’ve thought about this long and hard and the only explanation I can come up with is drugs. Lots of drugs. Of industrial strength.

I’d love to meet whoever commissioned it and find out how mind fucked he is. And then shake his hand, because it’s fucking awesome.

Categories: Industry Musings, Random Witterings, Someone Else's Way | 13 Comments

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13 thoughts on “Pitching the unpitchable

  1. Well, you’ve got to “polish your stones” and “clear your throat” on a regular basis … or so I hear.

    This sounds like genius! I must start watching. 🙂

    And if they make a film called “The Blue Cat” or something similar I may have to watch that too.

    Glad to see someone is keeping the age-old* tradition of childrens programs alive and kicking.

    *Only in that I am of an age where I am starting to feel old (well, older), and think fondly back on shows that had a dragon on a swing under a rubbish dump, with a pterodactyl that kept flying teeth on a washing line in its cave … and singing mice with a wooden woodpecker and a cloth frog that all came alive when a cloth cat fell asleep … and a witch that lived in a kettle with a talking telescope and spine-things and toadstools sort of teleported about the place, while kind of egg-things on wheels made her cross by being happy … *happy sigh*

  2. I read this while I was in the office supposedly working. I think it was the laughing out loud that gave the game away but I shall trade on the genital piercing rant for a very long time. Thanks.

  3. Michael Cook

    Funny post.

    But of course, the real answer to how a programme that crazy gets commissioned is: Because the producer (Ragdoll) had a long history of creating massively successful mental kids shows, growing from small beginnings as the producer of moderately successful slightly unusual kids’ shows to becoming the world leader in unhinged programming for pre-schoolers.

    Incidentally, I know one of the writers on Night Garden (and Boobah) and he swears that Ragdoll does not resemble a 19th century Opium den in any sense. They are all quite sober and sensible, apparently.

    I cannot make an informed comment on genital piercing, I’m afraid.

    • Hey, don’t go bringing your rational, well thought out truths to this blog.

      Observational comedy only works when you make absolutely no attempt to understand the thing you’re observing.

  4. Now I want to watch it.

  5. Gordon

    In the Night Garden is the complete brainchild of a single person, whose name escapes me. He is the guy who wrote every episode of the Teletubbies, he’s got qualifications in teaching linguistics to kids, and based on the phenomenal success of the teletubbies he was able to get In the Night Garden under way with no real pitch needed. He did an interview with Simon Mayo which is worth listening to, just to understand what went into devising it.

    • Andrew Davenport, yes I know. Believe it or not I did read all about it before deciding to abandon everything I’d learnt in the pursuit of a vaguely interesting blog post.

      Cheers for the Simon Mayo tip – Is that a recent interview? Any idea where I can find a copy?

  6. Have you been at the Pinky Ponk juice again?

  7. Good stuff. Best movie I have seen in a while is Avatar hands down. That movie was well done and extremely entertaining. For any of you that have yet to see it, go watch it while it’s in theaters. You will not be disappointed.

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