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.