Saturday, 14 March 2015

115 Watch With Mother : Teddy Edward

First  watched  : Uncertain

This   charming, ultra-modest  programme  remains  one  of  the  most  elusive  of   the  Watch  With  Mother  series.  There  isn't  actually  that  much  to  find; the  entire  series  comprises  just  65  minutes  with  only  13  five  minute  episodes  ever  made. It  was  teamed  up  with  Ring-A-Ding    ( basically  a  tune  from  Derek  Griffiths )  and  an  illustrated  fairy  tale  to  fill  the  Watch  With  Mother  slot  on  a  Friday  at  the  beginning  of  1973. It  was  later  cut  loose  of  these  moorings  and  the  repeats popped  up  unexpectedly  throughout  the  seventies.

The  programme  was  based  on  a  series  of  children's  books  by  Patrick  and  Mollie  Matthews, themselves  long  out  of  print  and  very  collectible , about  the  titular   globe-trotting  bear  and  his  companions,  Jasmine  the  rabbit, Snowytoes  the  panda  and  Bushy  the  bushbaby. The  postcards  of  the  pals  in  exotic  places  formed  the  only  visual  accompaniment  to  Richard  Baker's  narration  and  Johnny  Scott's  haunting  flute.

The  programme  had  an  unusual  fate. It  was  all  sold, the  animals , film  prints  the  lot  , to  a  Japanese  toy  museum  and  has  thus  far  been  inaccessible  to  Western  eyes i.e  there's  not  much  on  You  Tube. One  presumes  it's  all  preserved  somewhere  but  who  knows ?

I  haven't  a  clue  when  I  first  caught  it  but  it  did  become  significant  to  me  when  repeated  early  on  Saturday  mornings  prior  to  Multi-Coloured  Swap  Shop  early  in  1978  - when  I  had  recently  turned  13 - and  I  used  to  get  up  early  to  watch  it. I  also  involved  my  friend  Patrick  in  viewing  it  and  remember  once  discussing  the  "events"  of  an  episode  with  him  later  that  morning. As  was  his  wont  he  went  along  with  it  without  any  enquiry  but  God  knows  what  he  really  thought  I  was  doing.

Did  I ?  Well  sort  of. My  involvement  in  child  psychology  is  recent  and  still  superficial  but  I think  there  were  a  few  reasons. One  was  that  throughout  my  childhood  I  was  very  tall  and so  never  regarded  as  "cute"  and  petted  or   often  treated ; I  was  conscious  of  that  and  always felt  I  had  missed  out  a  bit  on  that  score. Another  more  immediate  cause  I  think  was  recently watching  gritty  adult  stuff  on a  Friday  night,  first  Target  and  then  Gangsters,  both  of  which  we'll  discuss  in  due  course. I  hadn't  been  having  a  fiddle  while  watching  them  in  case  that's  what  you  were  thinking  but  I  did  have  some  sense  that  these  were  not  what  a Catholic  boy  should  be  viewing  and  a  vague  precognition  that  becoming  an  adult  would  produce  some  uncomfortable  new  challenges.

So  watching  Teddy  Edward  in  its  utter  innocence  was  part  comedown  ( it  actually  overlapped  with  Gangsters  for  a  couple  of  weeks )  and  part  crutch  as  I  fearfully  tried  to  delay  the  onset  of  adolescence  for  the  next  couple  of  years. This  also  manifested  itself  in  buying teddies  much  to  my  mum's  alarm,   continuing  to  play  make  believe  stories  with  my  sister  and  her  dolls  ,  and  becoming  more  religious e.g  attending  school  masses at  lunchtime.  I  did  have  another  ally  in  this; my  Dad  was  going  through  a  rough  time  as  he  was  finally  forced  out  of  teaching  and  I  think  in  some  way  indulging  my selective  infantilism   helped  him  through  that  period. It  all  ended  early  in  1980  with  the  final  onset  of  puberty  and  my  Dad's  semi-public  indiscretion  ( I  won't  go  further  into  that ) ; co-incidentally  that  was  the  last  year  Teddy  Edward  was  broadcast.



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