Over the last few weeks, the boy has developed a very real and very beautiful love for Elmo, writes Ben Keenan.
He can take or leave the rest of the Sesame Street gang but as soon as that sweet-natured squeaky voiced red puppet appears on the screen, the boy loses his legendary poise and tries to climb into the television.
Before I became a father, I’d always regarded Sesame Street as one of television’s finest programmes because its approach is to educate as thoroughly as it entertains which it succeeds in doing quite spectacularly. But as soon as the boy and I started watching it together, my love for it spiralled out of control and I now consider it the yardstick by which all subsequent viewing is judged.
I love cartoons of all shapes and sizes but I’m continually baffled and confused by the watered down insanity that floods our channels and passes itself off as entertainment for children. There are exceptions, of course, and some of the shows I loved as a toddler are still going strong today.
The fact that Fireman Sam and Postman Pat are still employed is wonderful news but at the same time, the hand-moulded sense of wonder which shone through them has now been replaced with a computerised sheen which has erased some of the magic. It’s not just that though, the reality seems to have disappeared too. Exhibit A: Pat Clifton now uses a helicopter to help him deliver the post! Luckily for the boy, I planned ahead of his arrival and have accumulated several DVDs of timeless genius by the undisputed champions of children’s television, Bob Godfrey and Cosgrove Hall. When the time is right and Tom’s vocabulary has advanced beyond Mama, Dada and Pasta, he and I will curl up under a blanket and bask in the storytelling genius of Henry’s Cat and Count Duckula which I enjoy as much at the age of 33 as I did when I was a younger! My only worry is that Tom will have destroyed our television by then in an attempt to free Elmo from inside it.